As the mom of a tween, the time will eventually come when boys and girls in my daughter’s class will really start noticing each other in ways they didn’t before. And sure, it may already be happening some. But elementary school has a different feel than junior high, middle school, or whatever you might call that place a few years before high school. Social rules change, appearances matter more, kids are starting to, ahem, develop in new ways. Adolescence shows up front and center.
Here’s what prompted me to think about this tonight. Two moms near me today were talking about the difference between fifth grade and sixth grade, specifically about how more girls were texting their sons now that they were one year older. Last year he didn’t care, this year he’s good with it. The way they were speaking about it, they seemed to think it was somewhat cute. I wasn’t sure what to think.
Back in the day, we used to communicate the old fashioned way – through passing hand-written notes. Alright, so that sounds kind of archaic now, but you didn’t have to pay X amount of dollars a month to do it. However, an advantage of texting is that you could potentially track exactly what your kids are communicating with each other.
This wasn’t meant to become a post just about texting, but rather what parents permit their kids to do regarding dating or “going out” at that tween age. I also know that I put some restrictions on my girls watching TV shows that focus too much on dating. Not that I’m going to lock them in their rooms until they are eighteen, I just don’t think they need too much of that when they are ten and under.
This is where parents can fall into herd mentality in some ways. Other kids are into the dating thing, so maybe it is OK for their kids to do it too. And what constitutes dating at that age? That really seems to vary from parent to parent and kid to kid. Is that only group dates, individual one-on-one unchaperoned dates, sitting together at basketball games? When I was in junior high, I remember coming across kids my age who were a couple and they were making out in the halls when they thought they were alone. I mean full-on necking, touching, etc, and they weren’t even really hiding it. Seventh and eighth grade!
I was way too shy and awkward to even be close to having a chance at that, but I honestly don’t think that would have flown with my family anyway. I didn’t go on a date until I was fifteen and that resulted in me having a boyfriend for a while. A sophomore in high school is quite a bit different from a seventh grader by a long shot. And I would guess some of you readers may have had to wait until you were sixteen, or perhaps you put a restriction like that on your kids. I also know that I myself and others had friends of the opposite sex that were simply that and no more.
I know I’m likely to do more of what I knew from my growing up years, and that isn’t absolutely right or wrong. And if one of you is a little more restrictive than that or more permissive, that may still be within the bounds of healthy watchful parenting. Of course, being overly permissive in our over-sexualized society won’t do your kid any favors. But still, I’d like to know where you draw the line on boys and girls calling each other, dating, and so on.
Such a murky area, an aspect of parenting that can really cause some grey hairs. Your thoughts would be most welcome and may even give some guidance to other readers.