Why are some parents so afraid to talk to their children?
While I was helping at the registers today, a woman came up to return a book she'd bought an hour prior. "It's for my daughter. She's in 6th grade. The first story has someone getting drunk in it. And the next story has someone getting high. And that's just too much. I have to be careful."
You know what that book was? The Best American Short Stories 2015, edited by T.C. Boyle. This is quality literature here! You mean to tell me that you'd rather deprive your daughter of experiencing the written treasures collected in this year's volume of one of the oldest and most venerable literary anthologies (100 years and counting)... because you don't want her to know about people getting drunk or high?
Granted, ideally she knows her child and what the girl could handle, and doesn't overestimate what's too much for her. But this lady talked like any mention of any drug or alcohol was an automatic disqualifier; as if these substances are top secrets-that-shall-not-be-named except amongst the adult-iest of adults. Why shelter your child from life, when you could just as well say, "Look Suzie. I'm going to let you read this book, but understand something first. It has some themes in it that are a little mature, so if you have any questions, I want you to talk to me about them. Also, there are certain actions going on in it that I don't want you to emulate. These are real things that people do, but I don't condone them, and here's why.... Just don't go thinking that something is acceptable or cool just because you read about it in this book. Okay? Understood? Okay. Happy reading. And again, talk to me if there's anything you don't understand."
This is a conversation that may be difficult, but is by no means impossible. Ma had this conversation with me many a time, and they worked. Like this customer's daughter, I was also a bookworm of a young'n who read beyond her grade level, but my mom didn't hinder me just because she was scared or wanted to avoid discomfort. She read/flipped through it, she explained her conditions to me, I agreed to follow them, and then she let me read!
People, talk to your kids about difficult and confusing stuff! Your children are not made of glass; I can bet you they're not that fragile. Please talk to your kids instead of coddling them forever.