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Teaching Your Child About Sex in a Fifty Shades World

Dr. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker

Here we go again, parents. Fifty Shades Darker, the sequel to Fifty Shades of Grey, has hit the movie theaters.

When Fifty Shades of Grey came out, I posted about it on my blog, a couple of times. I did this because even though Fifty Shades of Grey is rated R and is clearly a movie for adults (though I don’t think adults should see it either), the way our culture has latched onto it and promoted it makes it an issue for our kids too.

Films like the Fifty Shades series promote unhealthy and harmful views of sexuality, and our kids are being exposed to these dangerous messages through the film’s marketing. I believe it is a parents’ job to teach their child about sex, so the culture won’t.

Films like the Fifty Shades series promote unhealthy and harmful views of sexuality.

What do you say when your 11-year-old comes home from school asking you about the movie or the confusing things she heard about it? How do you respond when one of her favorite music artists has a new song out promoting the film? How do you teach her that sex in real life is nothing like is portrayed in this movie (or in the previews for the movie she is seeing online)? How do you teach her what sexual abuse is?

These are all issues raised by the entire Fifty Shades series that parents must address. When the first movie came out two years ago, I read a wonderful article by Dr. Miriam Grossman. Dr. Grossman is a medical doctor with training in pediatrics and in the specialty of child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry.

I would like to revisit what she said then because it is very applicable today. If you are wondering about how to talk to your child about this movie, or if you are considering seeing it yourself, I strongly advise you heed Dr. Grossman’s words:

“As a doctor, I’m urging you: DON’T see Fifty Shades of Grey. Get informed, learn the facts, and explain to your friends why they shouldn’t see it either.

A psychologically healthy woman wants to feel safe, respected and cared for by a man she can trust.

Here are a few of the dangerous ideas promoted by Fifty Shades of Grey:

Girls want guys like Christian who order them around and get rough.

No! A psychologically healthy woman avoids pain. She wants to feel safe, respected and cared for by a man she can trust. She dreams about wedding gowns, not handcuffs.

Guys want a girl like Anastasia who is meek and insecure.

Wrong. A psychologically healthy man wants a woman who can stand up for herself. If he is out of line, he wants her to set him straight.

Anastasia exercises free choice when she consents to being hurt, so no one can judge her decision.

Flawed logic. Sure, Anastasia had free choice, and she chose poorly. A self-destructive decision is a bad decision.

Anastasia makes choices about Christian in a thoughtful and detached manner.

Doubtful. Christian constantly supplies Anastasia with alcohol, impairing her judgment. Also, Anastasia becomes sexually active with Christian—her first experience ever—soon after meeting him. Neuroscience suggests their intimacy could jump-start her feelings of attachment and trust, before she’s certain he deserved them. Sex is a powerful experience—particularly the first time. Finally, Christian manipulates Anastasia into signing an agreement prohibiting her from telling anyone that he is a long time abuser.

Alcohol, sex, manipulation—hardly the ingredients of a thoughtful, detached decision.

Christian’s emotional problems are cured by Anastasia’s love.

Only in a movie. In the real world, Christian wouldn’t change to any significant degree. If Anastasia was fulfilled by helping emotionally disturbed people, she should have become a psychiatrist or social worker.

It’s good to experiment with sexuality.

Maybe for adults in a healthy, long term, committed, monogamous relationship, AKA “marriage”.  Otherwise, you’re at high risk for STDs, pregnancy, and sexual assault. It’s wise to be very careful who you allow to get close to you, physically and emotionally, because just one encounter can throw you off track and change your life forever.”

So parents, there you have it. I agree with Dr. Grossman. Do not got see this movie. Do answer your child’s questions about it. Make yourself your child’s go-to for all sex-related questions. Because if you don’t offer him the answers, someone else will.



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Feeling a a bit uneasy about having "the talk" with your son or daughter?
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