Your Kids Are Gonna Read Smut, So Don’t Flip Out When You Catch Them

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teens-looking-at-tablests-phonesI love a good overreaction. I can’t help myself, there’s just something about seeing someone flip out that entertains me in a “I guess it really does take all kinds” sort of way. That’s one of the reasons I love to read advice columns; I actually have a bunch that auto-update me when a new column goes up so that I don’t have to miss even one moment of navel-gazing, pearl-clutching, or overreacting.

One such column is a favorite of mine, Dear Prudence, where someone wrote in yesterday to bemoan the state of kids these days with their porny erotic friend fan fiction.

Q. 13-Year-Old Daughter Reading Porn Disguised as Fan Fiction: I discovered my 13-year-old daughter has been reading fan fiction for a very popular all boy band which describes in explicit detail sex acts between the male band members. I immediately instituted parental control and blocked the sites. We had a brief talk—need a longer one, but I’m not sure what to say? This can’t be good for her at 13—reading about explicit sex between ANY two people. Am I overreacting?

Oh, man. I’m at war with myself. On the one hand, I feel for this person because it must be tough to realize that your baby has grown up into a kinda pervy almost teenager, which all children do eventually. On the other, she’s talking about One Direction, right? Doing stuff with each other’s stuff? Also this line: “porn disguised as fanfiction.” That’s…adorable.

And that part of me is laughing because she just sounds so shocked and I want to hold her and let her know that while she’s confused about what she just read, there’s a small mercy in knowing that if that fan fiction were from a darker part of the internet, she wouldn’t be sleeping tonight.

Your child’s first foray into reading the sexy bits of books or looking at dirty magazines or whatever is a kind of rite of passage, and I happen to think the way that you react to it is crucial–you only have one chance to not fuck it up.

I used to love reading historical romance novels about Scottish highlanders at my local library, and I didn’t really understand that I wasn’t supposed to be until my mom found out, flipped, and made me write “I will not read dimestore smut” lines over and over. All it accomplished was that I started sneaking the books, and that I felt kind of gross about it but I didn’t know why.

Maybe I’ll feel differently when this is my kid we’re talking about, and I’m confronted with weird internet fetish fiction or whatever, but I think you should just treat it like all of the other messy bits of adolescence; by setting clear boundaries and making sure no one’s being a horrible person and just kind of gritting your teeth until it’s all over.

(Image: photodiem/Shutterstock)