My Mom Wants Me to Date Edward Cullen

In an era where the 'tween' demographic is targeted directly by mainstream entertainment without much focus on parental values, Kaija Kinney and her daughter have recently bonded over the same Twilight book, Twilight movie, and now the same Twilight moral values. The appeal that the Twilight series has to both mothers and daughters is a great reason for its success.  Unlike
the similar Vampire stories,  Sookie Stakehouse or Vampire Diaries Series', Twilight has transitioned with ease from tweens to moms and this may be due in large part to its advocating of male chivalry a - quality both mothers and daughters can admire. But while moms may view the male character as an ideal boyfriend, their focus should be redirected on whether Bella makes a good role model for their daughters.

The reason for the unprecedented success of the series among tweens and moms could be due to the fact that Edward and Bella have a relationship built on sexual tension and abstinence, with Edward being portrayed as the ideal boyfriend. Edward is characterized as a genteel vampire; one who not only dates the girl whose blood sings to him, but refuses to allow her to seduce him. He is always being quoted as telling Bella that she is "testing [his] control" while she crawls onto his lap or starts kissing him. "Edward had drawn many careful lines in our physical relationship, with the intent of keeping me alive. Though I respected the need for maintaining a safe distance between my skin and his razor sharp, venom coated teeth, I tended to forget about trivial things like that when he was kissing me." Even when Edward is presented in situations where lust should take over, as they would with almost any other teenage boy, his unusual ability to restrain himself is something that appeals to moms on two separate levels.

On the surface, Edward is strictly creating these boundaries to keep Bella alive. This s characterizes  him as a protective selfless boyfriend. Regardless of a woman's age, having a man that wants to protect and care for you is something many women want. Having said that, Meyer's ability to create such intense sexual tension without ever referring to anything deeper than kissing
allows mothers to admire Edward for his self repression, leading them to believe that, even though Edward is a Vampire, he is still a great example of who they would want their daughters to be dating. One such Twilight fan, Kaija Kinney, summed it up for me as: "even though Edward is a vampire, he has a lot of the qualities that I would want my daughter to date. He's got chivalry." And the chivalrous males of Twilight are what mothers and daughters, like Kinney and her daughter, can admire together.

 The books represent old fashioned values and ideals that have been lost in marketing of Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus as role models, and it doesn't hurt that the protagonist of the novels is a golden haired, extremely pale young man whose body is like a roman sculpture. Teen girls getting drunk
and having sex with a random guy after reading about a vampire who can
keep it in his pants until he marries the love of his life seems a lot less likely - at least this is the illusion of hope Mothers can feel after reading New Moon.

Even with Edward's redeeming qualities there are some very deep issues with the relationship that Bella and Edward have, and the mom's who would so quickly fall into the "twi-hard" phase with their daughters should think again.

Bella is clearly head over heels in love with Edward, and while Meyer attempts to have their relationship come across as one of intense and everlasting love, she has a tendency to make Edward seem slightly emotionally abusive and Bella incredibly weak with low self esteem. Dr. Cara Zaskow, a psychology professor at Capilano, weighed in, "[Bella's] place within the relationship is unhealthy; she's lost herself within the relationship." Always making herself out to be a plain Jane and describing Edward to have God-like looks and abilities, Bella gives young girls the opposite of what mothers love when they look at Edward. So while moms may love that Edward is the daughters-boyfriend of their dreams, it is worrisome that they (and young women for this matter) look at Bella as the heroine of this series and as a role model. She not only throws herself at Edward time and again, but she will put up with his brooding moods and his silent treatments towards her.

"By the end of the day, the silence was becoming ridiculous. I didn't want to be the one to break it, but apparently that was my only choice if I ever wanted him to talk to me again." This quote occurs after Bella cuts her arm at her birthday party and Edward's brother Jasper nearly attacks her. For the next two days, Edward hardly speaks to her and while he tells her afterwards that it's not her fault for Jasper's reaction, giving Bella the silent treatment was the wrong thing to do. This is just one time in the book where Edward pulls a passive aggressive tendency out towards Bella. In this situation, she eventually speaks up, but only because she is addicted to the attention he gives to her, not because she has self respect and plans on telling him this is the wrong approach to conflict. How any mother could choose to have this as a role model for their daughter, or even just a beloved character in a book is beyond comprehension; "as a parent that would concern me." Dr. Zaskow said, regarding Bella's role in young women's lives.

After Edward breaks up with Bella later on in the chapter, she becomes cathartic, "zombie" like almost and goes to extremes in order to hallucinate hearing Edward's voice. The only times in New Moon that Bella seems to feel happy is when she is either jumping off of a cliff, learning how to ride a motorcycle, or is being held in Edwards arms. Until the second last chapter of the book, the relationship between Edward and Bella is one in which she
consistently never feels good enough to be with him.

The girls reading these books are super impressionable for the most part, and it is worrisome that Meyer would write two out of four books in the twilight series in which Bella is portrayed as weak and full of doubt. Dr. Zaskow was quick, and quite right, to suggest that "rather than looking at the ideal [that Edward portrays] because of the sexual abstinence, [we should] look at the problem here [which] is when people lose their self identity within a relationship," and the role that the Twilight Series has in
promoting these relationships.

// Nicole Mucci

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