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Help with 10 yo/5th grader - first love & secret emails

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I would really appreciate some perspective and ideas on this situation with my 10yo DD. If I'm not handling this right, please don't flame me - this is my oldest child and I just don't know how to think of her as she begins to leave childhood. When I was that age, we were all still kids!

 

At the beginning of this school year (5th grade), DH and I allowed DD to have her own email address. We created an internet use agreement, which we went over and all agreed to (not sure if it's remembered on a regular basis). Any time she wants to email (or receive email) from someone new, I have to approve the person first. She has a limited amount of screen time daily, and doesn't have a cell phone or anything.

 

Part of the agreement was that we, the parents, have the right to access her files at any time. In practical terms, I told her that that meant that I would occasionally peruse her email and other stuff, not to read details (unless I had a serious concern), but to get a general sense of who she is writing, general topics being discussed, and what she is looking at on the internet.

 

DD is experiencing her first love and it is reciprocated. She is at a Friends school (our first year) and there are only 19 kids in the 5th grade, so the boys and girls do play together both in and out of school anyway. She is exchanging frequent emails with this boy, whom we have gotten to know a little, and whose mother I know somewhat and respect. A couple weeks ago while glancing through her emails I saw the phrase "We can't tell our parents." So at that point I read on, realized there was a secret code, became more concerned, and began basically reading as much history as I could. 

 

The code they created is incredibly basic, and they are writing emails partially in them, and also just in regular English. They discussed kissing (and hiding it from their parents - the topic of the above sentence), going on a date, about having dreams about each other, and he wrote her a song. They also simply enjoy each other's company, and talk on the phone sometimes playing lateral thinking puzzles and stuff. 

 

It is lovely and so sweet. I am thrilled that she has talked with me about just a little bit of it. I am disturbed by the discussions about hiding things from parents, even though, of course this is what kids do - but she is only 10. DD has had the basics of sex ed, taught at church (the OWL program if any of you are familiar with it) - for her age, which is mainly talking about puberty, the basics of sex, and about relationships and self respect. So while she is not completely out there in the wild, we have never discussed these things in a live context of her actually liking someone.

 

I haven't yet told her that I found something concerning and therefore started reading her email - I was too shocked (why?! guess I'm getting old.) but I would like to clear that up. 

 

Some thoughts/questions I need help with:

 

I feel like I have to supervise them way more directly if he comes over to play

What if they do kiss, is that terrible?

Is my daughter (or either of them) thinking of other things to try? We've had this conversation before, but now that there's an actual relationship, how to I talk about this without putting ideas in her head?

I feel like I need to give actual guidelines about when it's ok to do stuff. Like, holding hands comes first. When is kissing ok? 

She asked me not to tell the boy's mom. That's ok, right?

I don't want to keep invading her privacy but I am afraid. I don't want to worry that she is plotting illicit things!

 

Thanks for reading this long post and to anyone who has been through this, and can offer some advice!

post #2 of 12

I think you might start with saying you were looking at her email, per your agreement and noticed she is emailing alot with this boy. Ask her about it. Let her talk, you listen.

 

I feel like I have to supervise them way more directly if he comes over to play

Okay, so do that. After awhile I think you will feel okay about leaving them alone.

 

What if they do kiss, is that terrible?

imo, no it isn't. I have no actual data I would guess most receive their first kiss between 11-14. That means some at 9, some at 18+

 

Is my daughter (or either of them) thinking of other things to try? We've had this conversation before, but now that there's an actual relationship, how to I talk about this without putting ideas in her head?

You let her talk and you listen and answer questions. In separate conversations at a later time you bring up the things like puberty, sex, etc. this should be ongoing on a regular basis.

 

I don't want to keep invading her privacy but I am afraid. I don't want to worry that she is plotting illicit things!

Listen, she is 10. She is not plotting illicit things. It is okay to freak out, normal, I'm sure. I know I will be doing the same when my kids are this age. But really it is a giant leap from thoughts and feelings about a first kiss to illicit.

post #3 of 12

Aww, gosh, that does sound sweet!  

 

One thing that strikes me is that this "kiss" could be much less of a big deal than you might be thinking, maybe more of a peck than something heavy.  I had a first kiss at ten (although I'd also say that I had my real first kiss at 14, since it was a whole different thing by that time), and it was very innocent.  I was completely crazy over the boy, but it was still very innocent.  And it didn't lead to other things, though I am sure I was thinking about it.  

 

I kinda think I wouldn't bring it up to her if I was you, maybe that you saw that they were emailing, but not that you know about the kiss.  I think it's okay for that to be their little secret.  And if you tell her you saw that they were emailing, I'd let her take the lead as far as what she wants to talk about, as pbjmama said.  

 

My 9 year old seems nowhere near this stuff, but he just started at a new school and whenever I'm there to get him there are these two girls who constantly find a reason to run over and giggle at him and run away.  It's pretty adorable.  And he seemed to have NO IDEA what they were up to.  But then yesterday we got his class picture and I made him tell me all the kids names and when he got to one of these girls I asked him if she was one of the one's that's always running up to him giggling and he totally blushed.  I think he figured it out.  But he is so tight lipped!  I have no idea how he feels about it.  

post #4 of 12

I have a 10 year old daughter too and my son (now 17 years old) also was this way at her age. They start getting interested in this grade. My DD talks about other kids "dating" and what not. It's really cute. And when she thinks she is hiding things it's very innocent and sweet. Unless you find something horribly wrong I think it's okay. Just keep your eyes and ears open. Kids this age still go from one thing to another so I wouldn't worry. I had my first kiss in 5th grade, on the forehead no less, but it was so special at that time. :)

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone, I am laughing as I read these responses. I guess I am overreacting a little - maybe remembering the things I was hiding at 16 rather than at 10! 

 

I think I am going to address the emails in one conversation just to let her know I have seen them, etc., and see what comes of the conversation. Then in a separate conversation I'll restart sex and puberty talks, as you suggest pbjmama, because you're right, these should have been ongoing.

 

Thanks to all of you for helping me lighten up a little. DD has ADHD and anxiety which we have just started getting a handle on. I think I do tend to worry a lot about her making really poor choices because she has, and has been such a source of concern for so long that I've developed a habit of thinking she's getting into something she can't handle. That however is changing, and I need to change with it.

post #6 of 12

I'm joining in because my daughter is the exact same age and going through a very similar situation. I'm freaked out about it!

 

Maybe I was a late bloomer or just grew up with prudish attitudes, but I have told her no boyfriend at her age, no kissing, no holding hands. (It sounds gruff when I type it, but we've had multiple hours-long, very open conversations and it was more of an attitude of seeing what she thinks is appropriate at her age.) I said we can revisit this in a few years when she's older. Others are saying here that some of these things are cute. Maybe I'm being way too conservative?

post #7 of 12

I really wouldn't sweat it. My daughter (now 19 and in college) had her first "boyfriend" at 10. He was a boy who she played with all the time, lived across the street - really sweet kid, lovely family, etc. It was all very innocent. They'd walk to the bus stop together (with the other Mom & I trailing behind) - sometimes holding hands 'til they got within sight of the other kids. I still remember their first Valentine's Day. He came up to the door, all dressed up, with a teddy bear and some supermarket flowers. Took her on her first "date" (local pizza joint - they sat at their own table, while Mom & I sat across the room). And yes, gave her her first kiss (just a peck) when dropping her off (walked her to the door and everything. It was such a sweet and innocent moment. They moved the next summer, and that was the end of that. (I sometimes tell her she let a good one go - he's grown into such a handsome young man!)

 

She had lots of boys who she liked after, as well as those who liked her, but nothing really meshed until she was a Soph in HS. So... 15/16. And nothing serious until her Senior year. So an early experience doesn't mean your daughter's going to go wild at 10. Or 12. Or 14.

 

I agree with the advice above that conversations about these issues need to be ongoing. The most important thing, I think, is to remain open to any topic your child wants to discuss - WITHOUT freaking out. I know we all tell our kids that they can tell us anything, but then we often overreact when they do. And they learn that they really can't tell us ANYthing. I remember never feeling comfortable discussing these kinds of topics with my Mom, and always swore I would do anything necessary to make sure my kids really could tell me anything. And they do. (Sometimes... more than I want to know. ;)  ) Many of their friends would come to me, instead of their own parents - which I found incredibly sad.

 

So, my advice is... Yes, let kiddo know that you know she's been emailing someone special. But don't freak about it. Yes, maybe supervise a bit more closely, but don't go nuts. I just made a point of having chores to do that periodically found me in the same place they were (w/o being predictable LOL). No doors closed.

 

Keep conversations going, w/o making them forced. (And obviously age appropriate) Stay calm when she brings up topics that make you uncomfortable. Remind yourself that you would rather be uncomfortable than have her get information from other kids. State your values and the why's behind them. Even if the reasons are because you did it and it turned out badly, or made life more difficult, or whatever. Don't make it a Do As I Say situation. Remind her of her dreams and hopes for the future, and how those could change based on her choices. Be they school-related, substance-related, boy-related.

 

And always remind her that she can tell you ANYTHING. I learned a lot about my kid and her friends. I knew who was drinking who was smoking, who was drinking. Be realistic that she may try things you'd rather she didn't. Let her know that she can always call you - if she's uncomfortable, if she's had a drink, if she's tried pot - and you will come get her. But to never, ever get in a car w/someone impaired by even one drink or toke (even if it's her) because she can call you at 3am and you will be there. And then follow through.

 

Sorry - that was longer than I'd planned! LOL

post #8 of 12

I think you should stick with closer supervision.  I don't agree with reading the emails unless you also don't allow her to have privacy when she talks on the phone.  I wouldn't be too worried about kissing or liking a boy.  My dd is also ten and she talks about having a new boyfriend each week.  As far as I can tell they sometimes hold hands and play together and they call themselves boyfriend and girlfriend.  It isn't something I am worried about because it is all experimenting with close supervision.  Kisses seem very fascinating to my dd and her friends right now so I wouldn't be surprised if one happens but I don't think it is a big deal and I doubt they will get one in at school.

 

I do think the secret aspect is concerning and I suggest trying to figure out if this is just part of the age or if there is something you do that makes her think she has to keep things secret.  My dd won't talk to my ex because he gets to freaked out and she doesn't like it.  Instead of listening he tells her sh is too young to have a boyfriend and takes it much too seriously.  She tells me most things because I just listen and sometimes tell her a story from my childhood.  It helps that she talks to me a daily about what is going on because I am sure I would be very freaked out if I thought what was going on was actual boyfriend/girlfriend business versus children trying on a new role in a game they think is real. 
 

post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by IncompetentHousewife View Post

I'm joining in because my daughter is the exact same age and going through a very similar situation. I'm freaked out about it!

 

Maybe I was a late bloomer or just grew up with prudish attitudes, but I have told her no boyfriend at her age, no kissing, no holding hands. (It sounds gruff when I type it, but we've had multiple hours-long, very open conversations and it was more of an attitude of seeing what she thinks is appropriate at her age.) I said we can revisit this in a few years when she's older. Others are saying here that some of these things are cute. Maybe I'm being way too conservative?

 

What I saw with my DD's friends is that the girls that aren't allowed to have boyfriends often have them anyway, but they just don't tell their mothers about them.

 

In 6th grade after my DD's best friend and her little boyfriend broke up, the girl was just heart broken. Everyone knew why, except her mother, who just thought she was moody and had a bad attitude. The mother had ensured that they couldn't have a real conversation about how the girl was feeling.

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by IncompetentHousewife View Post

I'm joining in because my daughter is the exact same age and going through a very similar situation. I'm freaked out about it!

 

Maybe I was a late bloomer or just grew up with prudish attitudes, but I have told her no boyfriend at her age, no kissing, no holding hands. (It sounds gruff when I type it, but we've had multiple hours-long, very open conversations and it was more of an attitude of seeing what she thinks is appropriate at her age.) I said we can revisit this in a few years when she's older. Others are saying here that some of these things are cute. Maybe I'm being way too conservative?

You can say no this no that, whatever, it does not mean it won't happen. It probably means it is more likely to happen - forbidden fruit and all that. The secret is half the fun, as in the case of OPs daughter. Nothing much to keep secret except the having of a secret!

 

I have two teen daughters, been there done that.

post #11 of 12
Quote:

Originally Posted by andromedajulie View Post

 

That however is changing, and I need to change with it.

aint that the truth?!!! i sooooooooo hear you on this. i am struggling with it too. 

 

to add to what everyone has written - i have one more thing to add.

 

i have warned my dd that while she can talk to me about anything and ask me anything - she has to HAS TO give me my freakout moment. i will try not to but i may yell at her or scream at her - and get all that out of my system and then be ok. and then i can be supportive. but dont expect me to all the time be sweet and supportive. i AM not always sweet and supportive. sometimes i am SCARED shit. and thus i react instead of act. 

 

i have reacted a few times recently. and when i went to apologize dd rolls her eyes and says mom its ok. we cant always be perfect. i know you freakout because you care. its ok. i understand. i have said the same to her. 

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by andromedajulie View Post

 

Some thoughts/questions I need help with:

 

I feel like I have to supervise them way more directly if he comes over to play

What if they do kiss, is that terrible?

Is my daughter (or either of them) thinking of other things to try? We've had this conversation before, but now that there's an actual relationship, how to I talk about this without putting ideas in her head?

I feel like I need to give actual guidelines about when it's ok to do stuff. Like, holding hands comes first. When is kissing ok? 

She asked me not to tell the boy's mom. That's ok, right?

I don't want to keep invading her privacy but I am afraid. I don't want to worry that she is plotting illicit things!

I agree with you that it's sweet. I wouldn't be worried at all by what you've read in her emails.

 

*I don't think you need to supervise them more so than you normally would.

*Kissing isn't terrible. I had the same boyfriend from kindergarten through 5th grade. We rode our banana seat bikes together, climbed on the big toys behind the school, hung out at each other's houses (his family had hamsters and a huge record collection plus his mom adored me and made us great snacks). We held hands and kissed; I remember the high schoolers making fun of us in the lunchroom. He was the first boy that asked me to marry him, and I still have the note. We chose to get ready for high school graduation together, and are friends to this day (38 years after we started "dating" in kindergarten). Huge amounts of time and emotion were expended for years in childhood, and nothing "illicit" ever occurred.

*She's 10; I wouldn't worry. (see last answer)

*I think she can figure the basics of this out on her own just with common sense.  You might be reading too much into it. And regardless of what ages/stages you think holding hands or kissing is appropriate, she can do those things anyway. To me, it seems an odd thing to make rules about - since you really can't control it in all reality.

*I don't think there is anything crucial to report. They haven't done anything wrong.

*I'd really try to let go of your fear about it. It is sweet and innocent; everyone goes through it. I wouldn't want to give her the impression that she is doing anything wrong. 

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