My Teenage Daughter is Reading Adult Romance Books

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I’m still adjusting to the fact that I have a teenage daughter. There are days that I don’t even realize how old she really is. At times, she still acts like the little girl I’ve always known. The cuddly and clingy girl that follows me around everywhere I go. She still kisses me goodbye when I drop her off and says I love you. I’m fortunate to have a teen who doesn’t seem to be embarrassed by her mother like I was when I was her age. I have to remind myself she’s not little anymore constantly.

One day, she came home and asked me if I had a copy of “The Hating Game” by Sally Thorne because she needed something for free reading time in her English Lit class. I didn’t have a copy at home, but I told her I would get it from the public library. Then I thought, wait a minute, this book is categorized as adult romance. Is this really something she should be reading? I was conflicted, and here’s why. This child has never been a reader. I have always been of the opinion that if she finds something she wants to read on her own, regardless of the book, I’m going to let her read it. Until now, there really was no issue; she was primarily only reading class-assigned reading.

I was completely caught off guard by her request. It made me realize, whoa, I have a teenage daughter. Of course, she’s going to start asking for more adult content. She has consumed a good amount of adult content in other forms of media. She and I watch Law & Order SVU together every week and there is a plethora of tough topics covered on that show. So why would I pause at her requesting an adult romance book? I think it’s primarily because of the romantic relationships and what we do in those relationships.

My daughter and I have had some conversations about sex and intimacy, and she’s told me about some of the things her friends have gotten in trouble for. A mild example would be sending “noodles” to a boy. She told me she understands the importance of making good decisions, being safe, and, most importantly, consent. She really hasn’t been interested in romantic relationships. She’s had a few crushes here and there, but nothing serious…yet.

When BookTok took off and engaged with readers of all ages and all reading preferences, I was here for the adventure. It’s fun to watch the trends evolve and listen to a community of readers talk about books on a new platform. In the past couple of years, SpicyTok became a trend that caught on like fire. Even though I associated it with adult romance readers, teens are picking up these books, too. Books like Icebreaker by Hannah Grace, Twisted Love by Ana Huang, and many others have cute covers but feature some “spice,” aka sexual content on their pages. So again, when my teen daughter asked to shop for books, I had to ask myself to let go and just let her pick out what she was interested in and read.

Now, I know my approach isn’t for everyone, but here’s a great resource to help you. Common sense media.org provides information and ratings on the content of books, movies, TV shows, games, podcasts, and apps.

Every now and then, small and simple moments like asking for a book hit me like a ton of bricks, reminding me that my girl will be 16 years old this year. My mind and emotions tend to dwell on how I can’t be involved in everything she does, and she will be living her own life soon. But mostly, I’m happy and proud of the wonderful young woman she is becoming.

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Alicia Gebert
Alicia is a full-time bookstore manager in Indianapolis and the resident bibliophile here at Indianapolis Moms. My family of four, Hubs Ellis and daughters, Claire & Isla have settled in Fishers and absolutely love the community we call home. Our family wouldn't be complete without our sweet trio of kitties. Anyone that knows me, knows I'm obsessed with all things books. Reading them, buying them and looking forward to Indy Moms Book Club meetings. I'm mildly obsessed with Harry Potter and a proud Hufflepuff. I do have room for other things in my heart like coffee, houseplants, being surrounded by nature but most importantly, I love Harry Styles!

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