October 31 – November 6, 2010: In Brief

Highlights:
Weekly Format Experiment: I’m now posting weekly reviews on Wednesdays around midday. Yay health! Since I’m an obsessive blog reader with a 100-plus blog reading habit, I’m going to share the best links from the posts I read, too.  Can I keep up the weekly format?  We’ll see.  The experiment begins… now!

Fiction Books:
Firelight, by Sophie Jordan (** 1/2) [2010] – Jacinda is a member of the rare draki species that can change between human and dragon form.  She’s especially valued by her pride since she’s the first draki with fire-breathing capabilities in centuries. Now her pride has big plans for Jacinda.  All she wants is the freedom to fly in the daylight and not care if humans see her draki form.  It’s this flight that changes Jacinda’s life forever. 

Jacinda doesn’t know who to side with in the battle between her mother and her pride.  Her mother wishes for Jacinda to let her draki-side die, flee her pride, and become a full-time human.  While the pride seems to want to use Jacinda to breed a pack of fire-breathers.  To complicate matters, Jacinda meets Will, a boy at her high school who she feels an instant fiery connection to.  Now Jacinda has to decide who to believe and what kind of life she wants.

I loved the concept of the draki species and the romantic aspects of this book.  Unfortunately this book sets up a lot of cool possible scenarios that aren’t fulfilled.  I guess the book is planned as a part of a series, but the end left a number of unresolved problems.  The most disappointing part, for me, was that Jacinda starts out as strong-willed girl, but by the end is reduced to a girl who thinks independent thoughts but doesn’t really do much.  [A YA paranormal romance for ages 13 and up. The romance is restricted a few make-out scenes.  Read on Nook for Droid Phone.]

Web Links:
Dutch-American Parent Study on Attitudes about Teen Sex – Check out this thought-provoking article on the different approaches to teen sex between Dutch and American parents.  The Dutch parents thought of sex as a natural part of growing up, allowed their older teens to have sleepovers with serious boyfriends or girlfriends, and didn’t see a difference in the ways boys and girls look at sex and love– thinking both girls and boys like sex and are able to fall in love.

The American parents didn’t approve of sex "under my roof", distanced themselves from their kids when they began having relationships, and looked at sex as a war between the genders– where boys only want sex, not love, and girls only want love, not sex.

As a result, sex in Dutch culture is naturalized as something teens feel comfortable seeking their parents’ guidance and advice with, whereas American culture dramatizes young adult sex as a war between teens and parents.  So teens often hide their relationships from their parents and feel alone in making relationship decisions.  

How does the teen pregnancy rate, abortion rate, and STD rate compare in the two cultures? Surprisingly, the U.S. teen pregnancy rate is 8 times higher than the Dutch teen pregnancy rate and Dutch teens have a low abortion rate.  U.S. teens have a higher incidence of STDs too. 

The article goes on to discuss teen dating studies about both cultures.  While teens in both countries most often have their first sexual experience in a monogamous relationships, as the teens reach their twenties, Americans tend to have more non-monogamous partners than Dutch young adults. 

American girls also often report feeling "down" about their first romantic relationship –even one without sex– because their relationship with their parents deteriorated.  In addition, many teen girls "confronted dilemmas of desire because of a double standard that denies or stigmatizes their sexual desires, making girls fear being labeled ‘sluts’ ".

Many Americans boys reported feeling pressure to lose their virginity, have sex, and treat girls as sex objects.  Interestingly, many American boys also reported that though they thought others boys were just out for sex, they were a "romantic rebel" and cared very much about their girlfriend. 

Meanwhile, the majority of Dutch teens described their first sexual experiences as "well-timed, within their control, and fun." Both Dutch teens and their parents described the teens as being in love. The article also notes that "the acceptance of adolescent sexuality in the family creates the opportunity for Dutch girls to integrate their sexual selves with their roles as family members, even if they may be subject to a greater level of surveillance." 

It’s a fascinating article worth checking out.  I think even parents who don’t agree with the idea of pre-marital sex will gain a new understanding of how romantic guidance can help their teens and how gender stereotypes hurt teens.

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