August 6, 2009

Mature Twilight Themes? I'm more scared that my daughter will choose Dude over Dartmouth

Twilight Parents Examiner has an interesting article pondering how old should your daughter be before reading Twilight, and how different parents dealt with some of the mature themes (Twilight = Abstinence Porn, anyone?) in Twilight.

My biggest concern over my theoretical, non-existent daughter reading the Twilight Saga is not actually over the schmexy undertones or pillow-ripping, headboard-breaking hints of what sounds like it was a very good night -- TV is far more raunchy, and when you're 10 years old, you probably can't really fill in the smutty blanks that us corrupted adults did when we interpreted what happened on that honeymoon night, or how Edward was really feeling when he hitched Bella's leg up on page 168 of Eclipse (Hello David Slade -- Please read about my Schmexy Leg Hitch in Eclipse Campaign).

My greatest worry is actually over the implications of Bella's decision to prioritize a guy over going to college. Yeah, yeah, he's her hot, soulmate vampire. But most 17 y.o. high school senior boys are not. Here is what I shared with the Miami Books Examiner:

Matriculate! Matriculate!
As big of a fan as I am of the series, I might have mixed feelings about my own daughter reading Twilight at a young age without the context of the real world. You know that I'm the ultimate TwiCrack Addict, but sometimes I don't always agree with the decisions that Bella makes.

While it's great that Bella finds a guy who respects her and doesn't want to get in her pants, she gives up going to freakin' Dartmouth and plans to forsake her life and her family for a man. Perhaps I'm simplifying Bella's decision, but giving up a college education for a dude is not what I'd want my daughter to accept for herself. So, I think it's important for the youngest Twilight fans to balance their absorption of Twilight with other experiences and exposure to many different types of heroines.
Am I the only one who had a beef with Bella's lack of interest in her education? You can read others opinions at Twilight Parent Examiner.

TCA

47 comments:

  1. Mmm, schmexy leg-hitch sceen - can't wait for the gif of that!
    - Lorabell

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  2. There better be a schmexy leg hitch scene to make gifs of!!

    we should put that on our sidebar. hehe.

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  3. I didn't think she wasn't that uninterested in her education. I saw it as "I'll have forever to go to college once I become a vampire and finally shag Edward. 'Cause God knows I'm gonna combust if I don't get some VERY soon" :))

    I might be wrong :)

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  4. I absolutely agree, i liked bella in the book but this decision really annoyed me, especially cause edward supported it and everything. Definitely not something i would have given up.

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  5. She didn't think she could go to Dartmouth because she'd eat the students :)

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  6. I agree with you. I'm a mother too and my daughter is a twilight fan. I let her read just the first two books..
    Mamita71 "Twitter"

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  7. yeah, that is sort of how i interpreted her decision too to an extent, goz. :-) though then she gets preggers and post-Vamp Dartmouth plans go into the pooper -- but she does have Infinity and beyond to actually go to school. And it doesn't sound like she'll have to change any diapers. Does renesmee poop? i can't remember. hehe.

    i'm just wondering what other book could i give to my fake 11 y.o. daughter for balance? are there other YA books where the heroine excels in other ways?

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  8. That's how I saw it too, the Cullens were constantly repeating school, it seemed to me that Bella would become one of them, and could go to college whenever she wanted after she'd got what was, for her, more important. Not everyone has high ambitions for education and work, it's a personal choice, and Bella was well within her right to choose a different path, as the theoretical daughter would be, even if their parents wouldn't want them to. I don't think anyone is going to use Twilight as a reference when making these decisions, though.

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  9. I'm with Gozde - I guess just figured she'd get to college eventually - I mean, how many times has everyone else in the family matriculated?? She's got all the time in the world (and I'm a tiny bit jealous...).

    Plus while the way the actors look in the films is unlikely to make anyone consider this, think about it: Edward is 17-looking, and if Bella had went to college pre-vamp, she would be what, 22 or 23-ish at graduation (if she was almost 19 at the end of her human life)? Not a huge deal, but if she's going to have to pick a "forever age" I can't say I blame her for wanting it to be closer to Edward's "age."

    That said, GO TO COLLEGE, BELLA! Er, right after you spend a lil' more time in the cottage and at Isle Esme and...

    : )

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  10. My daughters are 3 in 2 weeks. I think i am safe ... although ... I will admit that I have been reading the twilight books to them when putting them to bed.

    haha.

    But I think I would be okay to let my daughters read it when they are 12 or up. I mean, at that age, they won't get the full blown visuals that I got.

    shivers**

    I am thinking Renesmee doesn't poop. That sucks. I would have got a kick of Edward changing a diaper. Then again ... he probably would have done it perfectly. :S

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  11. Yeah actually all of this makes sense, i never thought about the fact that she couldn't just go to college straight after she was bitten haha, i thought she could just have both

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  12. Pfft!
    I mean, babe, I completely see where you're coming from in terms of her giving up her education but pretty much every decision B makes you would never, ever make in real life. eg. engage in dangerous activities in the hope that the voice of your long lost spunky vampire soulmate will start conversing with you in your head. Also, I'm sure at the college application stage the thought that she would graduate from multiple high schools and colleges throughout the rest of eternity and most likely attend Dartmouth twice by the time she's turned 450 would have crosses her mind.
    I totally see what you are getting at from a motherly perspective but I think that's why mum's need to sit down and explain to their daughters my exact point above.

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  13. Yeah, in my head...Bella goes on to college many times over. And I would want totally want to freeze myself in time when my butt was cellulite-free and not saggy too. (sob - TMI)

    I guess I just wish that there was more talk in the book about how she did eventually want that, so that when my 12 y.o. cousin interprets these books, i don't have to worry that she's more focused on finding Her Edward over anything else.

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  14. My 9 year old daughter is begging to read the books after watching me become a Twi-addict this summer. (I let her see the movie-she hides her head for the kissing scene.) I told her she'd have to wait til she's 11. My husband is currently reading New Moon and says she has to be 18! (It will be 25 by the time he finishes Breaking Dawn.)

    My main concerns were about marriage and teen pregnancy. I didn't think about the college angle. Thanks for bringing up the topic-my daughter's age to read the books is edging up by the moment.

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  15. I think it depends on the kid.
    Some kids are very mature early on and others are not.
    The best advice is parents should read a book before their child and gauge what age they think is best.
    And be there to talk issues from the book out.

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  16. I'm not a parent but I would fault myself if the values I gave my child, the importance of going to school etc went to garbage by the book she read where a teenage girl fell in love with a vampire, got pregnant and didn't go to college.

    I do think 12 is too early to read Twilight. 15 is good :)

    And I hope

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  17. @juju agree with what you say. I don't have children myself, but am old enough to have lots of friends that do and each parent should decide for each child- just like television shows. Every 10 or 11 year old is not at the same maturity level.
    As far as the books- Bella does want to go to college and doesn't give it up for Edward- he begs her to go to college- she give it up because she thinks she will be killed by victoria or the volturi if she doesn't become a vampire. She doesn't want to put any of her family/friends in danger of the "non-vegetarians" coming to Forks. Through-out the story her character is always selfless acts for others- not herself.

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  18. Bella was going to go to college but got pregnant instead. They had a few more weeks of time & then Bella wanted to be human a little longer cuz of the sex. Edward was scared that the baby was going to hurt Bella so he wanted them to go home. Bella made her descion to keep the baby. ( a very serious descion to make at 18)
    I think it's our job as parents to instill values in our children. These books are entertainment, maybe a vocab lesson. Not a parenting book. If we teach our children the right values, they will make up their own opinions & make their own descions. Allowing our children to read the books at an early age is a personal choice. When I was 12, I was reading Danielle Steel & Jackie Collins. It depends on your child's maturity level. Also, reading the books might also lead to "the talk" with your kid.

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  19. Am I being completely stupid here? Page 168 of Eclipse according to my copy, is Rosalie talking to Bella about why she thinks Bella shouldn't be a vamp... help me... !! :)

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  20. Do you have hardback or paperback?

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  21. Paperback - i thought that may be the issue. I know this is sacrilege, but i cannot remember in detail the 'leg hitching' scene and it's driving me mad!!!

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  22. I think these are very brutal books, so much blood, so many injuries - in real life similar accidents force a woman to leave her husband and run to a women's shelter. Bloodthirsty, gory, lascivious - a dangerous mixture for children.
    I would not have wanted my daughters to read Book 3 and 4 before their 14th year. And number 1 and 2 not before they were 12. Although Bella is intelligent her actions are often brainless and inconsequent, just as one thinks a girl her age would act when helplessly in love. I don't think the idol of a girl who moves to her father, helps him with the house, learns, is best at many subjects at school is not a bad one.
    But why should a little girl read about the suffering and injuries while pregnant and giving birth? This is not the world of little girls normally - the love o.k. infinite curiosity, but the suffering consequences, OMG, this is perverse.

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  23. You can't remember the leg hitch? *GASP*. It is THE scene that made me hopeful BD wouldn't fade to black...but it did...and now I'm a fan fiction addict. Damn you young adult books and their "rules"! :))

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  24. Ha Ha @Gozde!!! I have to say that I was a little annoyed at BD myself, for following the rules and what not, but I do LOVE the fact, that for all the conformity to YA rules, the whole saga still ends on a vamp sex scene. Woop! Anyway.. someone please tell me what page THE scene is on in the paperback version. I NEEd to read it ha ha :)

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  25. I agree with Gozde...my 12 year old will not read the last two books until she is 15. She's read the first two, but that was before I read them. Then, I quickly realized that the media was crazy and that these were NOT tween-y, teen-y books..and that while the angsty abstinence, pillow ripping, headboard breaking, leg hitching (my fave part!) was great reading for ME, it was not so great for a 12 year old who has no life experience to relate it to. I also thought it might create unrealistic relationship expectations!
    And, as a parent, I also didn't like the message that you give up everthing including your family, for a guy..even a guy like Edward Cullen! So, my daughter is waiting with baited breath until she is old enough to read it. She lit'rally cried when I told her she couldn't read the last two yet. I understood her pain, but it was the right move. I just don't think you can understand the themes in NM and BD unless you've been in love - AND, I'd even go so far as to say I'm not sure you can COMPLETELY understand BD unless you've been a parent. I know, I know..I'm gonna get skewered for that comment - but just as I don't think you can completely relate to Bella if you haven't been in love, I also think that being a parent changes your perspective so drastically, that you can't TOTALLY understand BD if you haven't experienced that. Not that you can't appreciate it and love it - just that you might not get Bella like a parent might....Or - I could be completely wrong! Either way - my daughter isn't allowed to read it until she gets a little older. She doesn't need to read about that birthing scene...I do want grandchildren someday and reading it now might scar her for life :-)

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  27. Chinamother: Aren't you afraid she'll read it at school on breaks secretly? If she cried about reading them maybe it's a better idea to talk about the book while she is reading it? I think banning it would create more interest no? :))

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  28. Just on the point of what age girls should be able to read the series - I was very young when I first read the Judy Blume books and they are far more graphic than Twilight, and yet still aimed at YA's. I really do think that it depends on the maturity of that particular person and what level they are at socially. I think that so long as they are at an age that they can understand that it is fiction and that things like that don't happen in real life, then they should be allowed to read the series. Yes, Bella makes some silly/wrong/downright stupid decisions, and her thoughts aren't always completely sane, but it is fictional, and the object of her affections is a vampire. If you cut out the fact that the Cullen's were vamps and the Quileute's were werewolves, then you can say, no they shouldn't read it.... However, as a mother myself, if a daughter of mine was, at the age of 17 to meet an utterly gorgeous vampire, who was also a veggie, I think I would have to forget about conforming to society too... That is the point, it's not a realistic snap shot of society within a saga because (unfortunately) vamps don't exist, and the young girl reading it cannot EVER be in the same situation as Bella, because she won't ever be choosing between a vamp or college etc etc... anyway enough of that... :)

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  29. As a parent I wouldn't have worry's about any of my children reading these books, that is with the proper preparation. I tend to be honest about the sensual and sexy parts of movies and books, it saves time and embarrassment in the long run, and you are the one that gets to explain it to them, and not their friends.
    Am I concerned about Bella choosing Edward over college? NO! because she has prepped her parents to believe the lie that she will be attending college while she is adjusting to become a newborn vampire.
    And we already know that the Cullen's continue to attend school in one form or another be it High School or College, over the decades since their own change, so you know Bella will be going to school in one form or another. And can you imagine what she can learn from a husband who is 107 years old.

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  30. Gozde- no I'm not so worried that she'll read it at school. They aren't allowed in her school library and she doesn't have much time during the day to be able to read it. Not to mention that she's a great kid and I don't think she'd read it when I said no (I know, I know...I'm probably naive on that)
    She and I have already had "the talk" etc...but this isn't just about Sex. It's about the feelings explored in the book - and i just think 12 years old is too young to be reading about longing for someone's body and touch etc....
    It's terrific reading for this 37 year old mom of 4, but for a 12 year old? I don't think these books were ever intended for such a young age, regardless of their YA designation. I think even SM said that herself. I don't have as big of a problem with Bella not going to college, because I do believe she went to college after BD. It's more the sensual/sexual stuff that I have a hard time letting her read. I know they wait till they are married and that is a great message - but there is an awful lot of longing going on, and frankly, in real life, not many 17 year old boys are going to say to wait as Edward does...At least not the boys I knew when I was 17 anyway!
    to each their own...I have no problem if other parents think their child is more ready for it. But knowing my daughter, I just don't think she is.
    Plus - I don't want her borrowing my books when I need them so often :-)
    Oh, and I follow you on twitter - my twitter name is jlpsu

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  31. Oh thank you:)) I definitely agree about the age.

    On Bella making stupid decisions. She is my favorite character in the saga. I LOVE they way she decides on something, I love her thought process. And except for the suicidal things she did when Edward left her I think her choices were very mature. I wanted to kick her ass when she kissed Jacob but I could understand her.

    Anyhoo, twitter is fail and I'm blabbering:)

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  32. I agree with you, but I think my problem was more with the scene where (on the Honeymoon) she *does* decide she wants to stay human and go to college -- but only so she can continue to have sex with Edward. That, I felt, wasn't a very good message for young girls. I'm in my 30s. I can appreciate what it was like when I was 18. But she should have wanted to stay human and go to college for other reasons too (for life experiences) as well as sexual experiences. That did bother me when I considered my (also imaginary) daughter reading the story. I think there is just so much we miss from the story overall. We only see this little, tiny, few-month period where she's all over-sexed (again, I remember being 18). But eventually she would want more just like any woman. I agree that she would eventually go to college many times over and I like to think of that ;)

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  33. I agree with going to college. I don't think she gave up college. We all know that Bella went to college over and over just like the rest of them. Also to the parents who think "Twilight" is too mature, then don't let your kids read it until they are older. Why should everyone else have to settle just because parents don't want kids watching mature themes? If you think your kids don't understand then you need to think again. I learned all about mature stuff from school. Your kids know more than you think. I hope this doesn't upset anyone, I'm not trying to. I'm just tired of reading about people trying to change the movies for children. Some people want to see the movies as close to the book as possible.

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  34. @Gozde - I too like Bella's character alot. My favourite of all of her lines, is when Alice 'kidnaps' her in Eclipse and she rings Edwards mobile and leaves the message for him, about being afraid of what he is returning to. I hope they put that in the script!! Sorry, off topic completely!

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  35. How I see it, I don't think these books SHOULD be for 12 year old girls ... but the thing is, if my kids want to pick up a book to read, especially Twilight, I would let them do it. Twilight and New Moon are not bad for tweens ... I would feel more comfortable if my kids would wait till they were 14-15 for Eclipse and BD, but, you know how addicting these books are.

    In the end, 12 year old know what sex is. Or at least, they should know what it is. They will hear about sex every place they go. I don't see it as a huge deal. I would hope my kids would know better than to try to copy a character out of a book.

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  36. I also saw the underlying theme of Bella's sacrifices. It gives the story an extra layer to chew on that younger readers might not get.

    As much as I didn't like Bella giving everything up for Edward, that was her personality and I think A LOT of 18 year old girls would have made the same choice. It's important to remember in certain cultures, even here in America, that women are still expected to start families and become mothers instead of going to college and becoming independent.

    As far as young readers are concerned - I was reading HP Lovecraft and Stephen King at 11. I devoured those books.

    This saga is so deep, however, I'm GLAD I didn't start reading them until I was 29! I would've never enjoyed it the way I can now.

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  37. I agree with Juju... I have to say I was a pretty grounded kid (and I'd like to still think I am one being only 23 lol...), and although I stuck with The Boxcar Children and The Babysitters Club, I don't think that if I had read Twilight at that age it would have affected my life choices. My parents never censored what I did because just didn't do crazy things. I hope that my daughter one day is the same way.

    Twilight is so not the worst thing a kid can read. (I only get surprised when I hear girls as young as 8 reading it because man, thats a lot of pages and words for an 8 year old!) I think I'd be WAY more concerned if my daughter who was 8, 9, or 12, or even 14 was watching shows like GOSSIP GIRL. Because those are more "realistic" and potentially attainable behaviors in their eyes.

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  38. I think it's messed up to let them start but not finish. Anyone who has read these books know how addicting they are...I would be mad at my parents for taking them away from me, esp after I have started them LoL. Kids are learning younger and younger about sex. It's a parents job to be there to answer questions. I'm tired of parents blaming books, movies, music ect on how their kids turn out. If you teach them right, they will be fine.

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  39. Just be happy your kids are reading.

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  40. Okay, even though we have tons of comments, I had to put my 2-cents in. I have a 10 year-old daughter who is dying to read Twilight. I finally gave in to her relentless begging to see the movie, which we watched on Mother's Day with my own mother also (lovely family bonding moment) all males kicked out of tv room. She also hid her eyes during the kissing scene, and had to visit the bathroom during ballet studio fight. I have decided not to let her read Twilight until 6th grade, by the time she gets to Breaking Dawn, she will have completed the intense sex-ed class in 7th. She's my baby, and I'm trying to keep her innocent as long as possible, but also give her enough freedom so she doesn't rebel at the age of 14 (like Mom did, cough). I hope my devious plan works!

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  41. I have to say that I mostly disagree with a lot of the comments here. The way I see it, parents are the ones responsible for their kids moral values, and it's the only thing that matters. I would let my daughter read whatever she wants, because it's part of our human curiosity and a good way for her to form her own values and thinking process. But I would encourage her to think and talk things through. I would like her to grow up into an opinionated and well informed individual. And I remember what I was like when I was growing up, I was a clever little piece of work: if someone tried to hide something from me, I WOULD find a way to figure it out. And as soon as my parents saw how I operate they stopped banning things and instead started discussing things I wanted to know with me. I turned out to be a completely rational and functional human being.

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  42. I'm a 12 y.o and i'm going into 8th grade this year.I read the Twiight Saga over fall last year in 2 weeks and i did understand every bit.The honeymoon , everything.And i do agree with Juju and Heidi Ho it does depend on maturity.In 5th grade at school i had "the talk " with my teacher , so when i read BD knew what was going on.It just a BOOK!I'm looking foward to college and i'm not going to through college away just for an Edward , just for a guy.So i don't think Twilight will effect my goals on life.I setr my goals and i'm working hard at school , doing my best for when i'm older.My goals in life are becoming a ER doctor , rockstar or an actress.And that's all i have to say about this article.And that is cruel having your daughter read Twilight at the age of 15 and up

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  43. TwiCrack-
    I have a whole list of other appropriate books to read. That's a post for another day! ;)

    Thanks for checking it out!

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  44. @TwilightTreasury/emmywoo84: Re-read chapter 20 - I do every time :)

    P.s. I'm still hopefully that Bella will actually be away at Dartmouth in a further book that goes into Renesmee and Jacob's relationship when she's grown up... with potential interference from Nahuel, by which point Jacobs all "emmer effer, not again!"

    - Lorabell

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  45. I read everything I got my hands on when I was a kid. I borrowed anything they had at the library. Now as an adult I can realize that the librarians probably wondered what a 10 year old was going to do with books written by Marquis De Sade or Guillaume Apollinaire... My parents also had tons of books, and they were only happy that I read. And boy, did I read!

    If I was a parent (which I am not and probably will never be), I would probably let the kids read what they want. If you ban something, they'll find a way to get their hands on it. I probably would limit computer and TV time strictly and keep tabs on the sites they visit, games they play and shows they watch. I don't think that staring a monitor or a TV several hours a day is good for kids. I also think that visual images are more hurtful than what you read in books. I never got nightmares on what I read, but I did get tons of them based on movies and shows I saw as a kid. But I hope I wouldn't ban things but rather explain and experience them together... But it's all theory anyway!

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  46. My comment: Teach your children right from wrong, teach them about abstinence in your home, teach them how to protect themselves, teach them the difference between fact and fiction, and for the love of all things holy TEACH them to BE THEMSELVES.

    I do not believe that parents on a whole are doing this. That is why so many believe what they read in books to be a true and wise course. The same goes for movies, tv shows, and news.

    Bella's decision is based on the fact that her vampire love is NOT aging as she is. Given I lived in her circumstances I would likely choose the same. I believe had they both been human she would not have married him so soon, she would not have given up on going to college.

    Just my thought, as far as my girls reading the books... I don't see an issue with it. If I do not let them do it then they will do it themselves. Of course I have a while before I need to worry about these things seeing as my daughters are 3 and 5.

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  47. interesting discussion post... but i'd have to say that it's pretty obvious that bella values her education. and she'd apply herself if she did end up going to college- very apparent especially with the deleted excerpt in NM about edward trying to send her money for college incognito and her vehemently rejecting it. i think she's just scared to lose edward, and is really pushing for him to change her, so with that long-term perspective, there's plenty of time for college in her eyes. i don't see a problem with her fighting for what she wants with tooth and nail. college is hardly the best option for everyone all the time (it wasn't for me).

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