My 13-Year Old Daughter and "Boyfriend" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 28 Old 12-30-2009, 12:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello -- happy new year to you all. This is a great group, and I hope to be able to learn and contribute to discussions here. Now a question:

I am a "single-father" raising two kids - a girl 13.5 (in grade 8) and a boy, 12yrs(in grade 6) alone.

My daughter has become so interested in boys, and seems to think that it is necessary for her to have a boyfriend. I have told her that a boyfriend is not necessary at this stage, but she still believes that she needs to have one. For the past two years, she has told me she is in love with about 3 different guys. My daughter and her younger brother spend most times with me, hence I am not sure if she ever met any of these guys more than once - though I believe they communicate by electronic (facebook, IM chats) and other means (excluding face-to-face contact).

I am concerned, and thought I would come here for some advice about how to handle this. She is an "A" student, and I would rather she remains that way.

I am not sure what to do -- I don't know whether I am probably one of the "old school" folks who have a different understanding of this new-age boyfriend phenomena. I want to maintain an open communication with her, even though she knows I am opposed to her having these "boyfriends". How should I handle this stage - i know either choice: total permissiveness vrs total strictness is probably not a good idea. I would therefore appreciate any thoughts from mothers and fathers with similar/related experiences?

thanks - Punda
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#2 of 28 Old 12-30-2009, 06:50 PM
 
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Hi there,
We have a 16 y.o. over here, and when you figure out what works, please come back and let us know.

It's all trial and error over here. On one hand, DSD and I have good enough communication for her to share quite a few details about her relationships with me and her dad. On another hand, I do think that things developed too fast with her first boyfriend, and (hind sight 20/20, right?) more strict approach would have set a better precedent.

Either way... DSD is allowed to date. She will not be going over her bf's house if she has one, but he is welcome to come over during reasonable hours. We've had a total of three bfs at this house, and one questionable "friend". They stay in the living room, watch movies, play board games, etc. She did go out to the movies a couple of times, and went walking around the mall.

She was 15 when she got her first real boyfriend. That lasted for 6 months, and there were a few non-serious ones since then. Nothing right now. It's very scary and emotionally draining to watch them pick the wrong guy, and pray that they learn from their mistakes. The rules are what they are: if there is an interest, she will have to invite the guy over our place.

DP and I try to talk to her about relationships without criticizing her choice too much, but at the same time talking about self-respect, physical aspects of the relationships, developing emotional bond with someone, recognizing when someone does or doesn't have your best interest at heart, etc.

Good luck. We are in the same boat!

New endeavor coming soon...
Raising Alice in Wonderland (DSD, 17), and in love with a Superman
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#3 of 28 Old 12-30-2009, 09:30 PM
 
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My boys are 14 & are in that stage. For the most part though, having a girlfriend really just means they have a special girl they talk to at school or text message but they don't generally actually date. If they do get together then it's usually as a part of a group activity with several other kids. And the girls tend to get tired of boys pretty quickly around here so it doesn't usually last very long.
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#4 of 28 Old 01-02-2010, 01:42 AM
 
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For the most part though, having a girlfriend really just means they have a special girl they talk to at school or text message but they don't generally actually date.
at my DD's school, they declare themselves "dating at school," which means that it is official that they like each other but doesn't involve getting together outside of school at all. (i don't get it)

There's really no point in making it against your rules. One of my DD's BFs isn't allowed to have a boyfriend, but she does. Everyone knows it except her mother. The only thing that mom has done is insured that her DD will not be honest with her.

However, if your DD believes she *needs* a boyfriend, I'd be a bit worried about her overall emotional health and sense of self. Is it possible for her to talk to some one? A trusted woman friend, the school social worker, a private counselor, etc.? That belief isn't one that will help her have a happy life.

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i know either choice: total permissiveness vrs total strictness is probably not a good idea.
I think there is a middle path with boundaries and guidelines but respect and realism.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#5 of 28 Old 01-02-2010, 11:50 PM
 
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My kids aren't this old yet, so take my advice as you wish .

Facebook and IMing and whatnot would be best to have access to - do you have her passwords? Would she be willing to share them with you? Would you share yours with her? There are all sorts of people out there, and having access to your daughters online stuff is a really good idea.

I read some terribly scary books about kids and what they do now at parties (they were recommended here on MDC, but I can't remember titles - someone may chime in). Hold onto your kids is one that I remember that was very good. Another one scared the pants off me - they do all sorts of physical things at really young ages now at parties because they don't see sex as being tied to a relationship the way earlier generations generally did. The book suggested having the rule of no parties for a girl where someone is more than 3 years older than her.

Ok, so back to your daughter. Some girls are really interested in boys and some aren't. If you want to discourage it, be your daughter's best man. Lavish on the love and affection, give her the attention and time. She'll be so busy with you that she won't have time for some kid. Find a good hobby that she can focus on and feel really good about. Does she like animals? Volunteer at the Humane Society. You get the idea.

HTH

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#6 of 28 Old 01-03-2010, 04:12 PM
 
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Facebook and IMing and whatnot would be best to have access to - do you have her passwords? Would she be willing to share them with you? Would you share yours with her? There are all sorts of people out there, and having access to your daughters online stuff is a really good idea.
I disagree. Going through other people's communications is like listening to their phone calls or reading their mail or their diary. Lots of parents do it, but I feel that it is VERY disrespectful.

It's one thing to have your own Facebook account and friend your child, it's very different to have their password.

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I read some terribly scary books about kids and what they do now at parties ... they do all sorts of physical things at really young ages now at parties because they don't see sex as being tied to a relationship the way earlier generations generally did.
I'm sure that there is some truth to what those sorts of books say, but I don't think they paint a realistic picture of what my kids and their friends are up to. I've no idea what % of kids are out of control compared to the % that are busy reading vampire novels, but if you know your own child, it really doesn't matter what the other kids are up to.


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If you want to discourage it, be your daughter's best man. Lavish on the love and affection, give her the attention and time. She'll be so busy with you that she won't have time for some kid. Find a good hobby that she can focus on and feel really good about. Does she like animals? Volunteer at the Humane Society.
I thinks it's a great idea for dad and DD to have a hobby or do some volunteer work together, not just to keep DD busy but also so she can find her passion in life (other than boys). However, I don't think that "keeping her so busy she doesn't have time for some kid" is realistic or healthy. The goal, IMHO, should be balance. She's going to like boys, but it would be nice if her entire world and feelings of self worth didn't revolve around it.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#7 of 28 Old 01-03-2010, 04:22 PM
 
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My kids aren't quite old enough to have FB accounts yet, but when they do I will feel perfectly comfortable setting firm rules about online interpersonal behavior, and saying "You may have an account, but we will share passwords and you should know that anything you say on there, I may read. I might not necessarily read it, but you should act as if I am reading everything you write, and gauge your online behavior accordingly. If you earn my trust by following my rules, I will give you more freedom online. If you betray my trust, the consequences will include losing your online privileges."
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#8 of 28 Old 01-03-2010, 05:21 PM
 
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Well, I know how "innocent" I was at 13 so with that being said; if my daughter was talking to boys via internet; BYE BYE COMPUTER/CELL PHONES/ETC. I can say that now though, my dd is only 3

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#9 of 28 Old 01-03-2010, 05:57 PM
 
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Well, I know how "innocent" I was at 13 so with that being said; if my daughter was talking to boys via internet; BYE BYE COMPUTER/CELL PHONES/ETC. I can say that now though, my dd is only 3
Seriously?

You think that a 13 yr old should be prevented from talking to 50% of the population?

What if your daughter is gay? She can't talk to anyone?
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#10 of 28 Old 01-03-2010, 06:47 PM
 
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I disagree. Going through other people's communications is like listening to their phone calls or reading their mail or their diary. Lots of parents do it, but I feel that it is VERY disrespectful.

It's one thing to have your own Facebook account and friend your child, it's very different to have their password.

I agree that sneaking and doing it would be disrespectful. I think that doing it openly is not disrespectful, it is prudent. Part of why I suggested sharing his own passwords with his DD was that it would be a mutual way they could keep eachother accountable.

Tjej
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#11 of 28 Old 01-03-2010, 08:54 PM
 
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When my boys got interested in girls a few years back (5th grade and up) I started asking the question "what does having a girlfriend mean (as in what do you do/don't do how is that person treated differently than anyone else etc)?"

Usually the answer to that question makes me lose concern and opens up a conversation where I get to add my input. They may seem uninterested at times during these chats, but I know they take notes because inevitably they follow my input. At least...in this department (so far).

Mama to 4 Boys & One baby Girl! My DH co-sleeps! (with the couch) I'm a Student Midwife!
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#12 of 28 Old 01-03-2010, 09:55 PM
 
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If you earn my trust by following my rules, I will give you more freedom online. If you betray my trust, the consequences will include losing your online privileges."
By the time my kids were old enough for such accounts, they had already earned my trust over and over in all sorts of other ways.

Dh and I have been very frank with them about how and why to stay safe. To me, asking for a teen's password just tells them that you, the person who knows them best, thinks they are an untrustworthy idiot who doesn't deserve to be treated with respect. That's not a message I want to give my DDs.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#13 of 28 Old 01-03-2010, 10:03 PM
 
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Seriously?

You think that a 13 yr old should be prevented from talking to 50% of the population?

What if your daughter is gay? She can't talk to anyone?
Well, First off, the title of this thread is: My 13-Year Old Daughter and "Boyfriend. I'm assuming that the 13yr old is not gay Secondly, I'm SURE the 13yr old could see people of the opposite sex IN REAL LIFE. Everything is not on the computer. I would rather my child be hanging out with a boy in the neighborhood talking, than talking online to a 59yr old sexual preditor who is on the verge of getting our address. and third.. you don't have to be snarky, jeez.. I also said " I can say this now though, my dd is only 3.. duh, I'm not there yet" LOL

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#14 of 28 Old 01-03-2010, 10:07 PM
 
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Well, First off, the title of this thread is: My 13-Year Old Daughter and "Boyfriend. I'm assuming that the 13yr old is not gay Secondly, I'm SURE the 13yr old could see people of the opposite sex IN REAL LIFE. Everything is not on the computer. I would rather my child be hanging out with a boy in the neighborhood talking, than talking online to a 59yr old sexual preditor who is on the verge of getting our address. and third.. you don't have to be snarky, jeez.. I also said " I can say this now though, my dd is only 3.. duh, I'm not there yet" LOL
Sorry if I came off snarky! I AM there now,with a 13 yr old and and almost 16 yr old...fun fun fun

Already went through the first broken heart, no doubt more to follow.
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#15 of 28 Old 01-03-2010, 10:11 PM
 
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Well, I know how "innocent" I was at 13 so with that being said; if my daughter was talking to boys via internet; BYE BYE COMPUTER/CELL PHONES/ETC. I can say that now though, my dd is only 3
I couldn't disagree more. Kids will go around the doors you close. I am personally striving for a more open and respectful relationship with my kids, and hopefully that will serve as a model for their own relationships. I don't have a road map as I wasn't raised that way, so I'm bound to be making lots of mistakes, but still....
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#16 of 28 Old 01-03-2010, 10:13 PM
 
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Sorry if I came off snarky! I AM there now,with a 13 yr old and and almost 16 yr old...fun fun fun

Already went through the first broken heart, no doubt more to follow.
awww, first broken heart.. no fun My first broken heart hurt for over a year.. so bad. Everyone said "there are more fish in the sea etc" and I would get so upset. I hope time goes by S.L.O.W.L.Y. I need time to prepare

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#17 of 28 Old 01-03-2010, 10:26 PM
 
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awww, first broken heart.. no fun My first broken heart hurt for over a year.. so bad. Everyone said "there are more fish in the sea etc" and I would get so upset. I hope time goes by S.L.O.W.L.Y. I need time to prepare
I know. It's so hard to balance between "You WILL get over it" and remembering the intensity of my own feelings at that age...added to which, he was a jerk and it hurts to see you own DD hurting over a kid not worth hurting over...
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#18 of 28 Old 01-04-2010, 12:30 AM
 
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When my boys got interested in girls a few years back (5th grade and up) I started asking the question "what does having a girlfriend mean (as in what do you do/don't do how is that person treated differently than anyone else etc)?"

Usually the answer to that question makes me lose concern and opens up a conversation where I get to add my input.
This is what we have done so far (of course, DD is only in 6th grade so there hasn't been too much "so far" ). I have no problem with DD having a "boyfriend" or a "crush" because, IMO, what they are doing in that context is totally age appropirate and healthy. In fact, I like it because DD has been having "crushes" on boys since 3rd grade and she has really come to some interesting (and I think good) long term conclusions about what she likes in a boy she likes (how they do in school, how they treat her and others, etc...)

 

 

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#19 of 28 Old 01-04-2010, 02:46 AM
 
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I couldn't disagree more. Kids will go around the doors you close. I am personally striving for a more open and respectful relationship with my kids, and hopefully that will serve as a model for their own relationships. I don't have a road map as I wasn't raised that way, so I'm bound to be making lots of mistakes, but still....
This is sooo true. The parents who try to control everything about their kids just end with kids who lie to them.

It was true when I was a teen, and it's still true with my DDs' friends.

There are a lot of fun and goofy games on Facebook that my DDs enjoy playing with each other and with their friends from school. People used to go off on how unsafe the entire internet was, but now that negativity is just focused on Facebook.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#20 of 28 Old 01-04-2010, 03:16 AM
 
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This is sooo true. The parents who try to control everything about their kids just end with kids who lie to them.

It was true when I was a teen, and it's still true with my DDs' friends.

There are a lot of fun and goofy games on Facebook that my DDs enjoy playing with each other and with their friends from school. People used to go off on how unsafe the entire internet was, but now that negativity is just focused on Facebook.
You have a point, I love farmville; mafia wars, and all the goofy quiz's. BTW, I'm just lurking here, I always just hit "new posts" but it's interesting and has given me something so think about for when my dd is older. And ya'll are right, if you block communication, or say no.. at least for me when I was a teen, I would have found a way to do it regardless. It's just a scary reality; I mean I can't imagine my baby girl even wanting to be away from me.. let alone, wanting to date.. AHHHHH!!!

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#21 of 28 Old 01-04-2010, 11:25 AM
 
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I have my kids' passwords - have done since they became active online. They know that it is a way for me to help make sure they stay safe - I don't abuse my knowledge and have checked their email, etc. accounts maybe a handful of times over the years. No, they do not have my passwords. I'm the adult in the house. It's not their job to check up on me.

Having said that... both of mine are active online and on social networking sites. Yes, I'm friended on them. No, I don't interfere, unless I see something that could cause them trouble (I think once).

If this girl is 13 1/2, and has been active online (including FB) for 2 1/2 years - I have to wonder if OP knows the age restrictions on these social networking sites? I think they have to be 14 to register. So... what's she doing on them?
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#22 of 28 Old 01-04-2010, 12:00 PM
 
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It's just a scary reality; I mean I can't imagine my baby girl even wanting to be away from me.. let alone, wanting to date.. AHHHHH!!!
One of my very ap friends with DDs in high school said that when it happens, it's really quite sweet. The boys her DDs like tend to be good kids.

In a relationship, people are drawn to what feels comfortable, so teens who've been treated with respect feel most comfortable dating people who treat them with respect. Teens who'se parents are controling either want to control the people they date or feel most comfortable dating people who try to control them. It's why family pattern play out over and over. Kids who are treated well at home tend to date people who treat them well.

However, there is a big difference between "dating" and "having a boyfriend." In middle school, the kids don't actually date, but they do like each other and fall in and out of relationships fairly easily. It just doesn't involved going anywhere or ever being alone. It's the next step up from the "I like you. Do you like me. Please check one YES NO" notes from first grade.

Yet, my DDs have friends who are already keeping secrets from their mothers. One of DDs friends first boyfriend broke up with her and she was sooo sad, and I felt sad knowing she was going home to a house where she can't tell her mother why she is sad.

It isn't a choice whether or not our kids will be in relationship, but we have a choice whether or not we are someone they can be honest with. That's totally up to us.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#23 of 28 Old 01-04-2010, 01:09 PM
 
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My son is 13 and I have his Face book password. It was the only way I would let him get one. When he's older...like 16 or so...then he can change the password and keep it private. I also have a Face book account and am friends with my son on-line. I don't go on his account very often. I did check what some of his friends were posting when he first got his account but I don't do that much anymore. I found that the postings are innocent. Sometimes, I log on for a brief moment to send myself a gift in farmville or one of those other applications.
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#24 of 28 Old 01-05-2010, 07:05 PM
 
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Hey Punda, I'll just reiterate what someone else suggested, because I think it's worth repeating: ask her what she thinks having a 'boyfriend' means. It's worth it to at least get a better understanding of what's in her mind. It might not be as intense or as involved as you are fearing.

Someone moved my effing cheese.
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#25 of 28 Old 01-22-2010, 06:44 PM
 
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I wouldn't make it in to something that's forbidden. My 12 y.o. dd has been boy crazy since she was 5. In our district, they start middle school in 5th grade and she couldn't wait because she thought everyone would be dating. Some were "dating" which meant one asked the other out and then they pretty much ignored each other, but maybe said "hi" on the playground. The point was that everyone knew they were "dating".

dd and her male friend started dating in 5th grade...she said the friendship became awkward after that and he broke up with her after a few weeks.

In 6th grade she again really wanted a boyfriend. A boy she barely knew asked her out and she said yes...and quickly learned that she didn't really like him. It was awkward and she ended up hurting his feelings.

In 7th grade she had a little crush on a boy and it was clearly reciprocal. He asked her out and then wanted to be by her side all day, every day...playground, cafeteria, in class, etc. She got tired of that very quickly--broke up with him (they're still friends) and now says she's done with boys until high school.

My point is that, had I followed my gut reaction and said "no dating!" she would have been sneaking around and/or angry at me for making her miss out on the experience. Instead she figured out on her own that she's too young for dating. It's hard but I think you need to listen to her as if what she's saying is perfectly sane Sometimes my dd will go on and on about a boy she barely knows--saying that she knows they have a future together. I remember being the same way when I was that age...

If your dd actually meets someone--if you've kept an open relationship she'll tell you about him--you can invite him over, take them to the mall, etc.

I don't know why some girls are so boy crazy--I always blamed it on the fact that my dd doesn't have any father figure in her life--good to know that's certainly not the case with your dd.
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#26 of 28 Old 01-22-2010, 09:09 PM
 
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I wouldn't make it in to something that's forbidden. My 12 y.o. dd has been boy crazy since she was 5. In our district, they start middle school in 5th grade and she couldn't wait because she thought everyone would be dating. Some were "dating" which meant one asked the other out and then they pretty much ignored each other, but maybe said "hi" on the playground. The point was that everyone knew they were "dating".

dd and her male friend started dating in 5th grade...she said the friendship became awkward after that and he broke up with her after a few weeks.

In 6th grade she again really wanted a boyfriend. A boy she barely knew asked her out and she said yes...and quickly learned that she didn't really like him. It was awkward and she ended up hurting his feelings.

In 7th grade she had a little crush on a boy and it was clearly reciprocal. He asked her out and then wanted to be by her side all day, every day...playground, cafeteria, in class, etc. She got tired of that very quickly--broke up with him (they're still friends) and now says she's done with boys until high school.

My point is that, had I followed my gut reaction and said "no dating!" she would have been sneaking around and/or angry at me for making her miss out on the experience. Instead she figured out on her own that she's too young for dating. It's hard but I think you need to listen to her as if what she's saying is perfectly sane Sometimes my dd will go on and on about a boy she barely knows--saying that she knows they have a future together. I remember being the same way when I was that age...

If your dd actually meets someone--if you've kept an open relationship she'll tell you about him--you can invite him over, take them to the mall, etc.

I don't know why some girls are so boy crazy--I always blamed it on the fact that my dd doesn't have any father figure in her life--good to know that's certainly not the case with your dd.

Thank you for sharing this. We're on the cusp of interested, but not much beyond that w/our pre-teen. It all feels pretty normal and safe, although certainly not every kid experiences this. But, I have been interested to see that a few of my dd's friend's parents are rabidly 'anti-boy" for their dd's, and I find it odd-not a choice we would make. Their kids are all about boys in places where their parents aren't, ie school, some social activities. I don't know-it seems not very open to me. We are aiming for healthier relationships, with good boundaries, but staying away from denying that kids do exhibit some interest in each other.
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#27 of 28 Old 01-26-2010, 12:45 AM
 
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I have a few more years to go before my DD becomes a teenager. Although we are very close I am enjoying her while I can.

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#28 of 28 Old 01-30-2010, 12:51 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post
Hey Punda, I'll just reiterate what someone else suggested, because I think it's worth repeating: ask her what she thinks having a 'boyfriend' means. It's worth it to at least get a better understanding of what's in her mind. It might not be as intense or as involved as you are fearing.
This, most definitely. I don't have any teens or preteens but I had boyfriends when I was in junior high.

It consisted of IMing, phone calls and talking at school. Sometimes a note in the locker and holding hands in between classes. We hung out outside of school as well now and then but it was with a group of friends. Not really "dating". It was all quite innocent, honestly. I did kiss a couple of boys but it was never anything that was premature or should cause concern. A shy peck and then lots of gushing and giggling about it with girlfriends later on.

Wife to a bearded dude.
Mama to DS [05/21/08] & DD [09/16/10] 43 weeks 1 day!
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