From the freelance files: 'Glee' and sex ed

Here's a piece I wrote for MSN Entertainment. This is the sort of thing that usually fills my inbox with hate mail, but after ten years of writing about the challenges of raising kids, that sort of thing doesn't affect me like it used to.


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Every so often other parents ask me whether they think "Glee" is appropriate for their tweens to watch.

If I wanted to give the safe answer, like the Parents Television Council does, I'd say, "Oh no. Wait till your kids are 16 before you hand them the keys to the Glee Club."

But that wouldn't be an honest answer. Nor do I think it's the right one. My kids and I watch "Glee" together all the time, and for different reasons, we're all fans of the show.

My kids like it for the music. We've downloaded most of the albums, and they sing along and have, in the process, gotten a bit of their School of Rock education.

I like the music, too, for the most part.

But what I like even more is the way the show zeroes in on some of the most awkward parts of parenting and lets Burt Hummel—Kurt's dad, played by Mike O'Malley—give us a script we use when we need to have the same conversation with our kids.

Make no mistake: There is sexuality on "Glee," involving everything from kissing to sex to teen pregnancy to homosexuality and lesbian exploration. On the face of it, that seems like material that parents would want to keep far, far away from their impressionable tweens.

I can imagine concerned parents saying exposure to these things too early steals a child's innocence and might make him or her more likely to experiment inappropriately.

But I think that attitude is a mistake. When watched with care, "Glee" can give us an opportunity to be better parents, helping our kids through the minefield of adolescence.

In my experience, shielding kids from sex and the consequences doesn't work. The first book I wrote was a memoir about pregnancy and early parenthood, and bits of it were accessible online.

Years after it came out, I received an email from a teenage reader, a smart, sardonic Catholic 15-year-old who had all sorts of questions for me.  After a long email exchange about writing and life in general, she worked up her courage to ask about pregnancy symptoms. That's when I realized why she was really writing to me.

Read the rest.