Twilight’s Message re: Marriage and Family

As we continue to examine The Twilight Saga in the light of the Gospel, it is worth noting the negative treatment given to marriage and family life in the series. 

To begin, it is essential to know that Bella is the child of divorce, but has sought no healing for that wound.  The ongoing ramifications of her parents’ divorce permeate the story, but Bella does not seem to be aware of the impact it has had in shaping, or in this case, deforming her character.  Without healing, dysfunction breeds further dysfunction.

This is clear in Bella’s attitude toward both of her parents.  She refers to her parents by their first names. They do not hold a position of authority over her.  She treats them as somehow less than peers – almost as if they are her children.  This is what she says about her mother:

“I’d spent most of my life taking care of Renee, patiently guiding her away from her craziest plans, good-naturedly enduring the ones I couldn’t talk her out of.  I’d always been indulgent with my mom, amused by her, even a little condescending to her.  I saw her cornucopia of mistakes and laughed privately to myself.  Scatterbrained Renee.  I was a different person from my mother.  Someone thoughtful and cautious.  The responsible one, the grown up.  That’s how I saw myself.  That was the person I knew.”  (Eclipse, p.45)

Her mother, Renee, abandoned her father, Charlie, when Bella was only a few months old.  Renee took Bella with her, but allowed her to spend a month with her father every summer.  But her mother’s irresponsibility is one key to Bella’s problems: “I didn’t relate well to people my age.  Maybe the truth was that I didn’t relate well to people, period.”  (Twilight, p.10)  When a child is forced to parent their own parent, the world is turned upside down and the ability to relate to others is damaged.

This lack of a father is equally problematic for Bella.  She arrives at her dad’s house, greeted with “an awkward, one-armed hug” (Twilight, p. 5).  She walks in to see “a wedding picture of Charlie and my mom in Las Vegas, then one of the three of us in the hospital after I was born, taken by a helpful nurse, followed by the procession of my school pictures up to last year’s.  Those were embarrassing to look at… It was impossible, being in this house, not to realize that Charlie had never gotten over my mom.  It made me uncomfortable.  I didn’t want to be too early to school, but I couldn’t stay in the house anymore.”  (Twilight, p. 12)  When Bella’s father brings up a friend they would go fishing with during their summers together, she can’t remember the man, saying “I do a good job of blocking painful, unnecessary things from my memory.”  (Twilight, p. 6)  The memory of her parents’ marriage, the thought of her father’s vulnerability or pain, the lack of his presence growing up – this is all too much for Bella.  So, she has become adept at blocking things out – a skill that contributes enormously to her willingness to enter into an unhealthy (deadly) relationship.  In addition, we have this sentiment expressed by Bella when her father gets up early one morning to put snow chains on the tires of her truck: “My throat suddenly felt tight.  I wasn’t used to being taken care of, and Charlie’s unspoken concern caught me by surprise.”  (Twilight, p.55)  A show of concern makes her throat feel tight.  She has been so deprived of appropriate parental care that the experience of some causes a physical reaction.  That is serious.  However, the author never makes reference to Bella being abnormal or dysfunctional – but she is clearly both.

Is it any surprise, then, to witness Bella’s reaction to Edward’s desire to marry her:  “So you can ask for any stupid, ridiculous thing you want – like getting married – but I’m not allowed to even discuss what I…” (Eclipse, p.443) She never quite overcomes this sentiment that marriage is stupid and ridiculous, but she does consent to it in order to get Edward to agree to engage in sexual relations with her and allow her to become a vampire.  Shortly before the big day, we get some insight into her mind:  “I briefly contemplated my issues with words like fiance, wedding, husband, etc.   I just couldn’t put it together in my head.  On the one hand, I had been raised to cringe at the very thought of poofy white dresses and bouquets.  But more than that, I just couldn’t reconcile a staid, respectable, dull concept like husband with my concept ofEdward.  It was like casting an archangel as an accountant; I couldn’t visualize him in any commonplace role.” (Breaking Dawn, p.6)

And Bella’s attitude to becoming a mother?

“I’d never imagined myself as a mother, never wanted that.  It had been a piece of cake to promise Edward that I didn’t care about giving up children for him, because I truly didn’t.  Children, in the abstract, had never appealed to me.  They seemed to be loud creatures, often dripping some form of goo.  I’d never had much to do with them.  When I’d dreamed of Renee providing me with a brother, I’d always imagined anolder brother.  Someone to take care of me, rather than the other way around.”  (Breaking Dawn, p.132)

This is so, so very unnatural!  But it is consistent with her upbringing.  The girl spent her childhood parenting a parent.  Why would she want to be a parent again?  Nevertheless, she does seem to make an exception for Edward’s child, “This child, Edward’s child, was a whole different story.   I wanted him like I wanted the air to breathe.” (Breaking Dawn, p.132)  She uses the frightening term “wanted” – a common term used by pro-abortion forces –  “Every child a WANTED child” – as if the value of a child can be determined by the fact that it is wanted by the mother.

So for Bella, marriage is stupid and ridiculous, a husband is dull, and babies are loud creatures dripping goo (unless, of course, the child is WANTED).  Her painful, unhealed wounds left from her parents divorce shatter her concept of what is true, good and beautiful – and she is then held up as the heroine in the story in spite of life choices which amount to abject failure.  So tell me again – WHY should we let our daughters read this?



  1. I’d never really thought of the book that way before. Dark Knight I reviewed with Christian element, but not Twilight. Thanks for the eye-opener

  2. Thank you for this. I found the Twilight book and movie very engaging, but also disturbing. Your blog helped me to identify some of the reasons why I felt so unsettled. Thank you for your insights.

  3. Are you serious? Is this a real review, or a joke?
    Are you actually saying that Bella should have had a normal, happy reaction being married at *18*? How is that a good message to young girls, even more so when Bella becomes pregnant (teenage pregnancy =/= good)?

    And you saying that Bella’s opinion of children is unnatural – *what*? So every girl should be married at 18, popping out babies, is that right? Not everyone finds children cute. Not everyone wants children. There is nothing wrong with that.

    I find it ironic how you find the fact that Bella’s pregnancy has pro-choice leanings. “Oh, Edward can hear the baby, s/he must be alive!” Sounds more like pro-life to me, especially since Bella wants to have the child from the very beginning. Get that? She doesn’t want to abort it, whereas Edward and Carlisle do.

  4. Dear Tallon –
    I stand by my review. It is not a joke. If the extreme caricature of my position (namely, that “every girl should be married at 18, popping out babies”) is what you think I have said, that is incorrect.

  5. @Tallon: I think the point Spesunica was trying to make about Bella’s reaction to the idea of marriage was that Bella rejects the idea in general, rather then saying “I’m a bit to young for that” or something to that effect.

    @everyone: You probably know this, but Bella’s life is becoming the new ‘normal’: I am a high school student, and only a some of my friends have whole family to go home to, and of those that do, two of them (at least) seem to live bizarre convoluted lives. A friend of mine actually knows someone who’s parents abuse her emotionally all the time, but CPS won’t take her because the abuse is not physical.
    My point is, the reason these books are so popular is that they (like all fantasy should) start from reality, the problem is where they go from there.

  6. This is further proof that you are a naive, idealistic fundamentalist. You expect a fairytale. Twilight’s characters are flawed by design. Flawed characters are much more realistic and easier to relate to. They are also more INTERESTING to read about. Yes, people who have been hurt, and people who have hurt others, are much more interesting characters than good or evil archetypes. You don’t like the idea of protagonists who make mistakes, and don’t always do the right thing. You think that anything a protagonist does is somehow tacitly endorsed simply because the action was done by the protagonist. Well, “protagonist” doesn’t have to equal “good guy,” and “good guy” doesn’t have to equal “perfect.”

  7. Well the author is a morman. So this book isn’t supposed to appeal to the Christian religon. I loved the book even as a Christian, I read it for enjoyment not for a sunday school lesson.

  8. I agree with andrew that broken family’s are becoming more common. My parents are both in thiier second marriage and we are in a “yours, mine and ours” typre of situation in which I am the oldest of 5 kids and wound up taking care of my younger siblings a lot and sometimes felt i was taking care of my mother in hard times. there is still a lot of shuttling kids around for the holidays and custody and what not. I’m not the only one. Lot’s of kids in my shcool are dealing with broken family situations.

    But I learned somthing through all this. Normal, healthy people will adjust and adapt when they have to, much like bella. I have some similarities to bella in my feelings about becoming a mother in general and marrriage. I feel if I got married and had children, then my adult life might be a repeat of my childhood, and I would rather have new experiences. I have siblings who needed a lot of help in school and other areas and i often felt like I was a care-giver more than I recieved care, even in elementry and middle school. my friends all tell me they think I’ve “already entered the tedium of being an adult” i know my circumstances contributed to my views of a future family and what i want in life, but is it really a bad thing? Is it really unhealthy to have no strong desire for marriage and children?

    I think the only way the situation could cause me to have an unhealthy, warped view is if I just didn’t adjust. I’ve seen one person who didn’t adjust. He really was unhealthy. His situation was not nearly as bad as mine or other’s situations around him but he wanted to believe it was. he refused all help. He would not take responsibility for his own happiness. He was trying to thrive on sympathy and wanting to be miserable and have people carry him through life. He just wouldn’t grow up.

    Bella takes on responsibility and unselfishly puts what she believes is in the best interest of her family members first. She’s a lot less selfish than I ever was. Her way of adjusting seemes perfectly healthy to me.

  9. “@Tallon: I think the point Spesunica was trying to make about Bella’s reaction to the idea of marriage was that Bella rejects the idea in general, rather then saying “I’m a bit to young for that” or something to that effect.”

    I just wanted to comment on this. She makes it pretty clear that she wouldn’t mind marrying Edward but that she disagreed with marriage right out of High School. If i remember correctly she said that she didn’t want to face the suspicious stares that she would get for marrying right out of high school and she didn’t want to appear “hick.” She repeats over and over that her mom had made marrying YOUNG, as in right out of high school, a mistake. That marriage is something that you do when you are older.

    Also I agree entirely with Alexandra when she says:

    “I loved the book even as a Christian, I read it for enjoyment not for a Sunday school lesson.”

    Lets remember that these are seminars written on religion and how we should live our lives. They are books meant for entertainment.

  10. You know what? My son wrote a brief essay about this movie (I made him). I likek that he said that instead Jesus bit him to suck his blood, He (Jesus) gave his blood for him (my son) to forgive his sins and save him. I think this is a good point of a teenager of only 16 years old who shows that reads the Bible and also lives in this real world who soon will pass on.

  11. The part that caught my attention was your problem with using the word “wanted” because it’s commonly used by “pro-abortionists”. I admit, that one really threw me through a loop. What would you have rather she felt? I’m pretty sure being ambiguous or disgusted about her pending motherhood would be worse. “Want” is entirely too common of a word for one faction or another to lay claim to.
    Besides, I’m pretty sure that she’s not the first teenager who has considered children gross and covered with goo until confronted with her own.
    Oh, and for the record, I haven’t read the books.

  12. You say: “However, the author never makes reference to Bella being abnormal or dysfunctional – but she is clearly both.”

    But in reality: “‘My mind doesn’t work right? I’m a freak?’ The words bothered me more than they should- probably because his speculation hit home. I’d always suspected as much, and it embarrassed me to have it confirmed.”

    You misquote “Twilight” as well as accuse it of various (erroneous) things on multiple occasions and CLEARLY you do not understand the context in which said quotes are intended. If you think you’re getting anywhere with your analysis, I strongly suggest you take a step back and re-check. If you really want the impact of your intentions to reach people, you need to work harder at what you’re doing. Your current contentions are mediocre at best.

    -Just Another Believer

  13. Dear “Just Another Believer” –
    I would appreciate if you would give references for your quotes – book and page number, please.
    Thank you.

  14. Dear CaitStClair –
    I would like to direct your attention to the following quote from Priests for Life (

    “First, the only proper response to the human person is welcome, acceptance, and love. This starts with the welcome we give to our own children, born and unborn, and continues in the fabric of the family, Church, and society to create a communion of love and service. The attitude of welcome, the virtue of hospitality, means that we make room for the other because of the value of the other, not because of some pleasure or convenience of our own. (The phrase “every child a wanted child” is a Planned Parenthood slogan; but as psychiatrist Dr. Philip Ney explains, it is not being “wanted” that leads to psychological health, but rather being “welcomed.” Being “wanted” means we meet someone else’s need or desire; being “welcomed” means there is room for us because of who we are and the dignity that we possess, independent of what is going on in anyone else.)”

    That is the psychological distinction I am talking about.

  15. The quote from Just Another Believer is on pg 181 of Twilight… it’s probably not good that I knew when the quote occured and what Edward said in reply, is it…

    And also, Edward tells her frequently that it’s not normal for her to want to be with him… so I guess the author does make a reference to Bella being abnormal.

  16. Dear Teenage Girl –
    Of course its scary that you know the page number of the quote without even looking it up! Still, I think it says you have a good memory and you’re smart. Thanks for sticking around and contributing.

  17. I didn’t mean I knew the page number off the top of my head!!! I meant that I knew the context of the discussion it was in (when Bella found out that Edward was a vampire, and they were talking about his powers), and I remembered Edwards response almsot exactly. I still needed to get the book to find the exact number.

    If I knew the page number off the top of my head, I’d be concerned about my own sanity. (Well, even more then I already am… Bella’s quote about her sanity applys to me pretty well).

  18. I think reading TWILIGHT and its series doesn’t need us to be bothered as Christians. As long as our faith is not shaken by any form of entertainment that we see and hear (just like twilight movie and book), we need not worry about anything. There are lots of books in the world that doesn’t neccessarily agree with our Christian beliefs but we still accept them as a form of literature and art. Twilight is an art. It is one of those fantastical books that has a unique story and I found it entertaining.
    However, since it is a book that has some contents that cannot be fully and philosophically understood by some children and adolescents, reading it must require a parent to guide his or her child during the reading process; or at least explain to the child that ‘this is wrong’ or ‘this is okay’ and why it is wrong and okay. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that there should be a parental guidance involved as the child reads the book, in order to avoid misunderstanding of the book.
    And let me say that although Twilight is rather a great book and has an amazing story, there could nothing be as great and amazing as the Holy Bible that we Christians have. We can still read the Twilight and other FICTIONAL books and treat them as artistically and philosophically as possible, but never let the Faith in Jesus Christ be neglected.

  19. or at least twilight does not need to affect your own beliefs and opinions, because it is a book in itself. you may want it or not but it has been a book and it is there. Actually, i think there’s nothing to be debated about this. 🙂 so calm down people 🙂

  20. Life is not a FAIRY TALE, okay? REALITY is not supposed to be PERFECT. I am not claiming that the book is real. But, get this: Many people are in Bella’s situation. Most children come from broken families and it’s not their fault. They are stuck in the middle of the parents’ fight and there’s nothing they can do about it. Bella was not able to understand most things because there are things that should be discussed by a mother or a father. And, since her parents had a divorce, they are not always around to discuss these matters, particularly her father. I remember in Eclipse, Charlie found it hard to discuss her “VIRGINITY”. That’s because her mother is supposed to discuss it to her and, since she now resides with her father, it is his responsibility. Though it wouldn’t be easy, he has to.

    Bella can’t do anything if Renee and Charlie now lead separate lives. It’s not like she can do anything about it now. If you can’t imagine life with that person and you know it isn’t working out anymore, why stay in something that won’t make you happy? Bella wants to have a better family than what she had before–vampire or wolf or human or whatever. She wants her child to have something she never had–a real FAMILY. She knew it wasn’t easy and she doesn’t like her child to be raised just as how she was. She wanted to create a family full of happiness.

    But if you keep on contradicting everything in the book, wouldn’t that be wrong? It would lead to a mess where you’ll lose yourself. The book lives not in apt world. So do we. And as long as your faith in what you believe in is not shaken, don’t mind it.

  21. Dear Nicole –
    You and I are in complete agreement. You are correct – life is not a fairy tale. Reality can be incredibly difficult – and many Twilight fans are in the same predicament as Bella – or if not the same, at least similar. Dawn Eden (who wrote “The Thrill of the Chaste”), a very insightful blogger recommends “Child of Divorce, Child of God: A Journey of Hope and Healing” written by her friend Kristine Steakley. She published an excerpts from the book in her Dec. 22 post at

    “Children of divorce face subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle pressure to move on. Mom left Dad for an exciting new life, and your sadness puts a damper on her newfound enthusiasm. Or Granny and Gramps disapproved of your father, that bum, and think everyone should be heartily glad he is gone. Your teachers worried that you should see a counselor. And now that you’re grown, people wonder why you can’t just get over it already. Sometimes you wonder that yourself.
    “Few of those people would have made you climb the jungle gym still sporting bandages from a fresh concussion around your head, and few would have expected you to run the fifty-yard dash on crutches. But the wounds of a child of divorce are not wrapped in visible bandages. It is easy to forget the wounds are there—even for the child who has them! It’s easier to sweep them under the rug, to suck it up and appear heroic. [,,,]
    “We did not choose to be children of divorce, to have our families ripped apart, to have Mom and Dad living in separate homes. We would never have chosen this. But finding ourselves in this situation, we do have a choice to make. Will we allow God to comfort us? And will we offer that same comfort to others who are hurting?”

    This quote really sums up the reason I wrote this post on marriage and family in Twilight. It is not me who tries to portray life as a fairy tale – it is Stephenie Meyer! You see Nicole, rather than acknowledge all the life transforming suffering that Bella has undergone because of the failure in her parent’s marriage, Meyer seems to suggest that Bella herself can overcome it, in spite of the fact that her views on life and relationships have become distorted by her experience. Her psychological wounds are no less real than physical ones – but people try to treat them as if they are in this crazy world we live in. Finding healing for the betrayals that we have suffered (and that is what divorce is – a betrayal by at least one of the parties who has taken a vow) is more difficult than taking some meds and moving on. Trust is the most basic element upon which we build relationships. When we lose our ability to trust… when we feel insecure and unloveable as a consequence, in constant fear of further wounding… it cripples us.
    I am in my late 30’s. What I can tell you at this point is that it very often happens that married people get to a point where they can’t imagine life with the person they are married to and life together doesn’t seem to be working out. Why? Because human beings are wounded and sinful – and learning to love is a lifelong process which is often painful. To make a marriage work, we have to rid ourselves of selfishness, strive to serve, always show respect – and be vulnerable to the other spouse, even when they don’t always seem to be on the same page. (BTW – I am not speaking here of situations of abuse…) Most marriages end, technically, because of “irreconcilable differences”. Irreconcilable differences aren’t. With God’s grace, patience, humility, charity, sacrifice and tremendous effort, differences ARE reconcilable. Fulton Sheen wrote a book called “Three to Get Married”. Why three? Because we weak and sinful human beings need the help of God.
    If people cannot reconcile differences in one relationship it is unlikely that they will be able to in a new relationship. Obviously there are always exceptions to this rule – but I’m just saying what is common. Often unfaithful spouses are a walking wounded person who has skewed perceptions regarding self-worth, etc. which lead them to get into bad relationships with other broken people (this is Bella, by the way) or they are a selfish person who is just looking for a new buzz – also wounded, by the way – and incapable of love. Bella may want to start a better family, but she won’t be able to if she is not healed…

  22. Art is a reflection of the human condition and has the ability to influence our thinking and thoughts. This is a idea that has been held since the days of Plato and Aristotle in Ancient Greece. In this case, Twilight reflects a horrendously twisted conception of the family, marriage and human relationships whilst while a fantasy, has the power and insidious influence to shape the real-life perceptions of young women.

    All catholics have the moral duty to boycott and to protest against the publication of such materials. The world can continue to produce such rubbish, as one who is constantly at enmity with God, but it doesn’t mean that we stand back and do nothing, or worse still, shrug and encourage such things by our silence.

    Indifference is the worse solution of all, and too many catholics have chosen this path. Our wills and intentions may be good, but we have to take a more forceful stand. Email the critiques and reviews to friends and speak up about the book’s bad influence on young women.

  23. People, this woman will never learn. I swear, no matter how many logical arguments you give her, she will simply tell you that you don’t know how to love and then change the subject.

    I don’t know if it’s because she’s just so set in her ways or because she feels it would be damaging to her pride to admit she’s wrong, but she won’t even consider that there is an alternative viewpoint. I’m open to the fact that Twilight is not a pro-Christian book, why can’t she be open to the idea that it isn’t anti-Christian.?

    Furthermore, these crazy, unfounded “critiques” aren’t anything like a scholarly review, so please don’t be fooled by her claims to be a ‘professional religious educator.’ Personally, I will be using the following quote:

    ” The girl spent her childhood parenting a parent. Why would she want to be a parent again? Nevertheless, she does seem to make an exception for Edward’s child, “This child, Edward’s child, was a whole different story. I wanted him like I wanted the air to breathe.” (Breaking Dawn, p.132) She uses the frightening term “wanted” – a common term used by pro-abortion forces – ”Every child a WANTED child” – as if the value of a child can be determined by the fact that it is wanted by the mother.”

    in a research paper about how Twilight is not a ‘horror’ novel, it is merely a re-hashing of the traditional romance novel with a gothic horror veneer. I WANTED to use the above quote to show how Twilight, like many successful books, can be twisted to fit into almost any genre if you simply read into it enough. It really has very little to do with religion except for some very basic references to very general religious concepts… it avoids the preachiness of certain pro-christian fiction and may even bring people to God. I’d rather see people Evangelizing with Twilight than (poorly) attacking it (for all the wrong reasons) on these kinds of blogs.

  24. I think this review has got it all wrong. Of course, this is simply just my OPINION.

    Flawed characters are much more interesting. Therefore, these characters are certainly not all that perfect. You are simply trying to make this author sound bad by placing petty comments, that themselves don’t relate much to Christiainiy. IT IS A STORY! Why can’t you just accept this book? You don’t have to write a whole blog about it! If you have a problem, go deal with it, instead of lashing tiyt out at everyone!

  25. Forgive me for raining on your parade, but being a child of divorce myself, I would like to say this – of COURSE it affects you and you are aware of how altered your life is. That doesn’t mean you go around complaining about it all the time or whining to people. You absorb it and take it on and it shapes who you become. You may not be perfect at dealing with it, but get this – everyone deals with it in their own way.

    I have taken serious offense to your discussion of the divorce. I was brought up in a similar way as Bella (though I was 8 when my parents divorced), and to boot, I was an only child for eight years, also. Is that the perfect life? No, of course not. Do you have issues resulting from it? Most likely. The novel isn’t ABOUT her parents or her parents’ divorce, ergo she doesn’t need to focus on it all the time. And as an only child, you grow up with a stronger sense of maturity.

    Another thing you said – “She never quite overcomes this sentiment that marriage is stupid and ridiculous, but she does consent to it in order to get Edward to agree to engage in sexual relations with her and allow her to become a vampire.” Pardon me, but when you fell in love, didn’t you want to know everything about the person and be with them always? She didn’t marry him to have sex at all. When you got married (if you are married, of course) did you not have a wedding night? Exactly.

    I’m not positive if you are aware of the fact that people in life want different things. There are thousands of people out there who do not believe in marriage and/or do not want children. I’m surprised you don’t know any, to be honest. Do me a favor and go and talk to teens today. Do they want children? A lot do not. So no offence, but maybe you need to stop wasting your time trying to find flaws in a book and instead go out in the real world and live a bit.

  26. Thats quite the review. I found it absolutely offensive. I’ll start with your reference to Bella as being deformed in character, and dysfunctional. Those are very judgemental terms for a religion that, in your words, welcomes, embraces and loves all humans you have quite the way of condemning them. Bella is not deformed. One is not deformed by experiences in their life. They are shaped. I am almost through my education so that I will have a degree in psychology. I am speaking about this from an educated point of view. Bella does suffer from low self esteem, she is a product of her environment, however, for one to be abnormal, or suffer from mental illness, they must be unable to function in their life. Bella functions perfectly fine, she takes care of her mother, cooks for her father and takes her education seriously. She then meets Edward, who is equal to her in intelligence, who strives to protect her, who saves her and loves her. She loves him as well. One can’t help who they love. Edward is not abusive as some people like to read between the lines. Bella’s happiness is the most important thing to him, as is her wellbeing. Thats hardly something to be concerned about. Its unfortunate that more men don’t respect their girlfriends, love them as they are, and want nothing but the best for them. Thats a bigger problem with todays society.

    Let’s move on to her pregnancy. Your offence to the word “wanted” is reaching. You are just looking for things to condemn. How can you possibly talk about Bella being Pro-choice here? The second she realizes she is pregnant she already loves her baby and sees the child as human. That would be the most pro-life thing I’ve ever heard. Yes she wants her baby. That’s not a bad thing. Are you a parent? Did you not want your children but felt stuck with them so you reconciled that someone wanting a child is mentally unstable? I think your issue with the word “wanted” is rather ridiculous. She loves her husband and wants his baby. That’s pretty normal.

  27. Dear Leah –

    If you read what I wrote very carefully, you will see that my claim is that Bella has unhealed wounds. That is not being judgmental – it is simply factual. You say yourself that she is “a product of her environment” – I would actually qualify what you say and claim that she has WOUNDS from her environment. Wounds are something inflicted on another. It is not my fault if someone stabs me in an alley. In the same way, it is not Bella’s fault that her parents had a bad relationship or made selfish choices. She has been wounded by it, however. It is not a condemnation of Bella, in the same way that it is not a condemnation to say that the victim of a stabbing should visit a hospital for stitches. It is a problem, however, when someone suffering from wounds goes into denial and pretends there in nothing wrong with them or seeks to self-medicate. As someone studying psychology, you should know that people who suffer from addictions have usually experienced a violation in parental attachment at an early age. You will also know, from programs like AA, that getting them to admit that they have a problem is usually the most difficult part of treating the addiction. To tell an alcoholic that they are addicted to alcohol is NOT judgmental. It is FACTUAL. They may “feel” offended or may consider it a judgment – but until they accept the reality, they will not see the need for treatment and healing. It is false and unloving – in fact, it is cruel – to suggest that we stay in denial about the wounds that someone carries because acknowledging them is somehow judgmental. To deny wounds is to leave another human being wounded. We wouldn’t leave a stabbing victim lying on the floor in a pool of blood. Why should we leave someone with psychological wounds uncared for and unhealed???
    The second point is that being “unable to function” is not limited to cooking or cleaning or studying. It also involves having properly functioning emotional relationships. A man can go to work every day, make a good living, provide lots of money for his family and be completely addicted to pornography. Is he “unable to function”? Well, he is not showing signs of major depression (yet) – but is he loving his wife as he should be? Is he providing for her needs and caring for her as a husband should if he spends his free time in an imaginary world fantasizing about other women? Of course not. He is “dysfunctional” as a husband. Also – as a side note… Bella’s mother does not have a debilitating disease. She is not elderly and infirm. There is NO REASON WHATSOEVER that Bella should need to “take care of” her mother – other than the fact that her mother is immature, selfish and needy, and therefore Bella feels obligated to her. In the prime of their lives, mothers are meant to take care of children, NOT vice versa – unless there is, like I stated above, an unfortunate circumstance like illness.
    “One can’t help who they love”. That is false. One can’t help who they are ATTRACTED to, but attraction is different from love. Love is a choice – an act of the will – not an emotion. Does Edward LOVE Bella? We all know he is attracted to her – but does he consistently choose what is best for her? I have other areas on this site where I refute that.
    Of course it is not a bad thing to want to have children with your husband. It is entirely natural and normal. However, regarding the use of the word “wanted” – let me ask you this: if Bella had been raped by a stranger a month before her wedding, would she have had an abortion? I think, based on her character, that she would have. She makes it very clear that her acceptance of her pregnancy is rooted solely in the fact that Edward is the father of the child. So… would she carry a child who was not Edward’s? I suspect not. She “wanted” Edward’s child, but would NOT have “wanted” the child of an unknown rapist. While the emotional abhorrence to conceiving as a consequence of rape is entirely understandable – does it reduce the humanity of the unborn child in any way? Does it give us the right to kill the child who is “unwanted”? If we follow the wanted vs. unwanted logic, it takes away the unequivocal right to life of every human being (We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are CREATED equal; that they are ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR with certain UNALIENABLE RIGHTS; that among these are LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) and puts the life or death call into the hands of the mother. That is what the pro-abortion movement has tried to do with the use of the slogan “every child a WANTED child.” In other words, I can get rid of one I DON’T want. It is a different thing entirely to say “every child a WELCOME child”. That means I welcome EVERY new life – not just the ones that I WANT – no matter the father, no matter the time, no matter my financial circumstances… even if it is not the best time to be a parent. When a pregnancy occurs in a tragic way or at a very difficult time, it is possible for very mature and unselfish young women to refuse the temptation to kill the life growing within them and to place a child with a loving adoptive family…

  28. Dear Marni-

    Do you believe that wounds can be healed?

    As I said regarding another comment – if a girl was stabbed, would you leave her on the floor, in a puddle of her own blood and just say “Oh well – bummer. I guess her life will be altered. She better not complain or whine.” Of course you wouldn’t. Now tell me this – why are emotional wounds any less worthy of care and healing than physical ones? Answer that question.

    We live in a society that shows very little compassion for those with emotional wounds. I think it is a crime that people with “issues” (I would call them “wounds” – wounds are INFLICTED – and in the case of divorce, inflicted by grown adults on young, innocent children) are expected to just “absorb” the pain and allow it to shape who they become. Don’t you think it is better to acknowledge the wound – forgive the wound – find healing for the wound? If the stabbing victim is slashed in the face – do we attempt plastic surgery and try to reconstruct her physical beauty – or do we just blow it off and say “well, she can just absorb her lack of a nose and upper lip – it will shape who she becomes!” Nonsense. Emotional wounds are just as – if not more – SERIOUS and WORTHY OF RESPECT and COMPASSIONATE TREATMENT than physical wounds. Do you want to know why I think they aren’t treated as such in our culture? Because I think that parents want to pretend that kids CAN just absorb the emotional pain of decisions like divorce so that it LESSENS THEIR OWN GUILT when they make SELFISH CHOICES. We as a culture have rejected our need for a Savior. Life is tough. Marriage is hard. We aren’t strong enough or unselfish enough to make life long commitments to other weak and selfish people unless we seek the help of God. If we are too proud and think we can go it on our own, we screw up and then mask our guilt by telling ourselves that it was “for the best” and that “no one really got hurt.” False.

    So, you are free to take serious offense at the fact that I acknowledge the pain and suffering that damages children of divorce. I don’t think your offense makes the reality any less true. It doesn’t rain on my parade that you disagree with me. What rains on my parade is that children buy into the lie that they can be just fine by absorbing pain that was never meant to be absorbed. If they buy into that lie, they will NEVER seek healing. And that – Marni – is why many of them do not believe in marriage or want to have children. That is not natural. It is an unnatural way of thinking based in unresolved pain, anger, violation of trust, etc. You would be surprised by the number of teens I talk to and work with – and also ADULTS, who are still bearing the wounds of their childhood – and now find that they are, to their shame, passing them on to yet another generation.

  29. Bella has normal emotional relationships with friends. She cares a great deal for Angela, Alice, Jacob, and even Mike Newton and Jessica. She is shy and doesn’t like to be the center of attention but she does make friends. While in a period of depression she excludes herself from some of those relationships, but still stays close to Jacob. Yes Bella was suffering with depression when Edward left in New Moon, however, it is not abnormal for someone to suffer when they are left behind by someone they love. She does do some dangerous things while depressed. That was an issue. I am going to refer to one of Charlie’s lines in New Moon, where he told Alice that Bella didn’t act like someone left, she acted like someone died. This sentiment can be said for many, many people when they lose someone they love. I have seen and experienced myself, severe emotional pain when a relationship ends. It does feel as if someone has died because that person is gone from your life, and with them goes a possible future you could have shared. Some people when they lose someone do very stupid, reckless things while trying to deal with the amount of grief they are consumed by. It takes one time to work through their grief and Bella should have had help then. When Edward returns, she regains that future and her life returns to where it was when he left. Since she is not still grieving, she goes back to being herself. The wounds are there and sure she could have talked to someone about how she feels, but time will heal those wounds of being left. She is not suffering from clinical depression. I see nothing in Bella’s actions to tell me that she suffers from some serious mental health issue that requires immediate attention. I do agree that wounds should be healed and that addicts need to admit they have a problem before getting help. However, mental health issues are of a wide variety. You do not treat ones issues from divorce the same as you treat addiction. I have a friend who didn’t have the greatest upbringing, she has many issues from her parents. However, she has a found a way to function and live her life. Yes the issues are still there, but I don’t believe she is deformed or in need of being told that she is dysfunctional and abnormal. Time heals some wounds. Proper guidance and in extreme cases some counselling may be required. These are not serious psychological issues. Bella doesn’t really appear to be suffering. At many times she seems very happy and adjusted with the way her life turned out. I don’t see any case of her needing to be told she has a problem and should get immediate help. She meets her boyfriend at school, falls in love with him and they eventually get married and have a child. Her apprehension to marriage is obviously from her mother, but I don’t see that as a problem. Even the most devoted to their religion may feel fearful of getting married and experience cold feet the night before their wedding. Its a huge committment. Yes you can make the argument that she was committed to becoming a vampire like him, but I’m not talking about the fantasy aspects of the story. The vampire storyline is what separates this love story from others. Its just fantasy.

    I do not agree that love is a choice. Love is an emotion when we feel attracted, connected and intimate with someone. Even a child who is terribly abused by their parents still loves them. It’s not a choice. It’s an emotion we feel. When a woman’s husband turns abusive she can’t just turn that love off and walk away. It is much harder. She chooses to walk away from that emotion, but lingering feelings may still exist. This is what makes life so complicated.

    I’m not going to talk about the rest of your argument. We will not see eye to eye, as I do not believe that a teenage girl that gets raped should be forced to carry that pregnancy to term.

  30. I just want to comment on something you said to Marni. We took serious offense to what you said because you referred to Bella as deformed and dysfunctional for being a child of divorce. I don’t agree with the use of those terms. I also don’t like the use of damage that implies that it is irreversible. Emotional wounds can be healed. I agree children suffer when their parents divorce, but its not as if this marks them for life and they can never heal from it. With proper guidance and love they can heal.

  31. Maybe there’s a point to some of the themes pointed out in this article. Bella’s parents have not been the best parents in the world, but through the Cullens she now has a chance at having a normal family and experiencing the kind of love that she missed out on as a child. In ” Breaking Dawn” she comments about how she has finally found a place with her new family, a place where she belongs. Carlisle and Esme Cullen are very good parental figures just as she and Edward in turn are good parents to their own daughter. Bella is as disfuctional and damaged as the article suggests, this is resolved by the end of the story as she marries and becomes part of the Cullen family.

  32. I think it’s funny how people need to over-analyze everything. I’m a Christian, I enjoy the books. Period. Simple as that. Maybe Meyers wanted to pump the Twilight series full of anti-christian literature for her own self fufillment…..But isn’t it more likely she wrote for the sake or writing? For the sake of entertainment? Most Christians these days seem to take everything as a personal attack. Grow up and just enjoy life the way God intended it to be enjoyed.

  33. yet you forget that Bella us willing to sacrifice her life for her unborn child. most of the family wants her to abort it to save her life, but she refuses.

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