One mom gets closer to her daughters -- through books.
Beth Falkenstein: I know I'm the only mother with this problem: my kids don't tell me everything about their inner lives. Oh, if things are catastrophic -- or too big to hide -- they will deign to give me broad details. But when it comes to the day-to-day soap opera of their BFFs, crushes, and dreams, they play it pretty close to the vest.
Frustrated in my attempts to get them to open up, I have found a pretty good intermediary: books. My girls may resemble Marcel Marceau (look it up, all you non-boomer moms) when it comes to discussing their own affairs of the heart, but they turn into Joan Rivers ("Can we talk?") if I bring up Ginny and Harry (that's Potter, for all of you who may be living in caves).
That is why I have undertaken the tactic of reading what my children read. And to those of you who have also suffered through the mind-numbing fluff that is the Clique series, you understand what maternal devotion that is.
Want to talk with your girls about their friendships with other girls? Try the Traveling Pants series. Abusive relationships? There's Breathing Underwater.
Not every discovery is profound; I have learned that my kids prefer fantasy over realism, action over romance, and will require bribery to read another work of historical fiction, which they consider boring beyond belief. (I'm talking to you, Johnny Tremain.)
But interesting conversations can arise from even the most innocuous sources. I once suggested my teenage daughter read the graphic novel Stardust after we had gone to see the (PG-13 rated) movie. I soon discovered that the book went into greater detail about the night Tristan was conceived than the movie did ... and that my oldest daughter understands erotica.
By sharing books, I have gained valuable insight into the minds of my children -- what moves them, what interests them, what frightens them.
This summer, that seems to be really hot vampires.
|Beth Falkenstein was a sitcom writer and freelance contributor to "Self," "Redbook," and "YM" magazines before taking a full time job in her kitchen. She loves her new bosses (ages 13 and 10), and is grateful that they approve of inter-office romance, because Beth thinks her co-worker (Jim, age 45) is really hot.|