Is Your Teen Reading Shades of Grey?

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    by Matthew Field

    If your teenage daughter asked you if she could read Fifty Shades of Grey, what would you say? That’s just what my bright and diligent teenage daughter asked me recently.

    When she was nine, she asked me if she could read Judy Blume’s young adult novel, Forever. I said, “Yes, but I want to read it, too, and I want the two of us to have a ‘Father-Daughter Book Club’ talk about it.” In spite of her maturity, there were just some things she did not yet understand and I wanted her to learn those things from a parent rather than another fourth grader. She agreed, and we both read it. Then, we talked.

    Still, no one will confuse Forever with Fifty Shades of Grey.

    In case you’ve been living under a rock, Fifty Shades of Grey is a contemporary cultural phenomenon – or a New York Times Best-Seller (take your pick) – in which a young woman agrees to subordinate herself to a man whose sexual tastes involve physical abuse.

    And what’s so wrong with that? As society discusses it, here’s what’s wrong from a dad’s point of view.

    Unprotected sex – Condoms are not a prerequisite. It’s important for me to know my daughter will take care of herself, no matter what she does under the covers, and no matter what her partner tells her.

    Being subordinate to a man – I don’t want my daughter to believe she has to do whatever a man tells her in order to be loved.

    Being rich and handsome will get you anything – I’ve tried to teach my daughter that no matter what, it’s a man’s character that’s important, not what he has or how he looks.

    Sadistic sex is glorified – Does anyone want to imagine his or her daughter being hurt?

    So, when my teenage daughter asked me, “Dad, would you mind if I read Fifty Shades of Grey?” I thought, “Wow, she asked me if she could read, which is an activity that I’ve always encouraged, and she asked permission to read provocative, adult fiction.” Because I know my daughter, I also know her question was, “Dad, will you help me through this?”

    So when my daughter – now a young lady – was just a little girl and she needed to cross a busy street, she held my hand and I crossed with her. Today that young lady is still my little girl, and I’m still holding her hand.

    I drove her to library.

    Matthew Field is the author of The Single Father’s Guide to Life, Cooking and Baseball