You are tucking your 9-year-old daughter in at night when she informs you she has a boyfriend at school. You are picking your 11-year-old son up from school and you see him holding hands with a classmate. You wonder, is this darling or terrifying?
Most moms and dads we talk to admit they’ve never discussed dating rules with their child; instead they are waiting for a situation to arise and then figure out how to handle it. Without clear guidelines from their parents, kids often turn to their friends, tv shows, movies and the internet to learn about dating. Most of us agree, this is not where we want our children to learn about relationships.
Don’t worry, if you haven’t had a conversation about dating with your child we can help. This is a golden opportunity to open the lines of communication.
How to proceed:
1. Thank them for sharing with you!
2. Ask your child questions like: What does it mean to have a boyfriend or girlfriend? What is appropriate behavior and what isn’t? When do you think a boy and a girl are old enough for a romantic relationship? Their answers may surprise you. When asked about two kids “dating” in her class, one ten-year old said, “Basically it means that they ignore each other and feel really uncomfortable when they see each other on the playground.”
3. Tell them your opinion! “I think you are too young. Sixteen is a good age to start dating.” or “It’s great to have friendships with guys and girls, but let’s save the romance for when you are an adult.” or “If you like someone, let’s invite him/her over to spend time with our family.” If you don’t say anything, it’s like telling them to take dating advice from TV, their friends, and Miley Cyrus. Giving them an alternative voice in their head is a great gift, even if you change your mind and want to adjust your dating rules later.
Click below to watch how we advised one mom in this very situtation.
What do you think is the right age for kids to have a boyfriend or girlfriend? Come on over to our Facebook page and tell us about your thoughts and experiences!