It’s definitely something to get used to when your child gets their first boyfriend or girlfriend. When this happens will be different for each child, but kids can start showing interest in crushes as early as kindergarten and even want to kiss their classmates. Sure, it’s just a fling and a friendship, but more serious crushes that could lead to a romantic relationship aren’t far behind. It can happen to children as young as 9 or 10 years old. The highest average age for a first boyfriend is between 2 years or early teens, for example between 12 and 13 years old.
The actual nature of these relationships will vary with age and with each child as well. 10-year-olds can think of themselves as a couple if they play together at recess, while 13-year-olds can kiss and hold hands in the hallway. Yes, mom, it happened so fast, and it’s a big change. In the tween and preteen ages, your child develops a sense of self and develops more relationships outside of the home and outside of their immediate family. This is where those first relationships appear, and they can be a doozy.
Your child’s first boyfriend or girlfriend is definitely a milestone. Your family’s personal dating rules will of course affect when and what your child starts dating, but often those first relationships are just very early innocent relationships. It’s also important to note that any sort of dating ban may not stop it. Your child may decide to keep their personal life a secret. It’s so important to adopt a healthy and open tone when it comes to your child’s relationships. It’s definitely a transition for both of you, but with a little patience, anything is possible.
Ask questions and answer theirs
Whenever your child expresses interest in another child in a more romantic way, definitely dig deeper into that topic. It’s not the type to sweep. You must be curious anyway so ask questions. The younger your child, the more questions you are likely to have, because it may seem silly to you that your 10-year-old son has a girlfriend, but he does. Ask things like are they holding hands? Or just play together? Is this feeling mutual? Also, get the details of how it happened. Consent is also something that needs to be discussed. Ideally, consent is something we should discuss with our children about a variety of situations as young as possible. Approach it casually early on, but really approach it as soon as those early crushes start to develop.
It’s so important for all of our children to grow up knowing that what they say to themselves is worth it and that the object of their affection never says “no”. that means no. Of course, answer any questions they have for you. And if you haven’t already, maybe it’s time for age-appropriate “conversation.” Good luck!
Set guidelines and expectations
Your child may be about to take a big step, but set clear guidelines and expectations for dating. This is perfectly fine as long as there is a minor child in your household. You have the right to know what they are doing and with whom. Clearly explain what they need to share with you. When it comes to an actual date, first relationships are different for parents. This is your first time dealing with this and all you can do is allow what you are comfortable with and what your child is comfortable with. Very Well Family shares that when tweens date, they do so in groups.
A group of tweens, maybe 5-7, will all hang out together, go to the movies, attend school dances, hang out at each other’s house, etc. but there may be only one real couple in the whole group and everyone is just accompanying friends. They’re tweens, we’re talking about, so they’re super awkward. Group meetings are an ideal solution for them, and you as a parent if you are not ready to give them one-on-one time.
Get to know them
Well, as crazy as it may seem to you, your child has a significant other. You have to meet them or at the very least be introduced to them. Don’t be unnecessarily hard on them and make it your goal to develop a good relationship. Phase 2 of parenthood also suggests parents meet the new boyfriend or girlfriend to pay attention to red flags as well. It would be things like maybe being too much into each other. Or any sort of control issue.
Source: Fine Family, Today’s Parent, Phase 2 of Parenting
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