I think I was about 13-years-old – maybe a little younger – before my parents deemed that I was technically allowed to have a boyfriend.
Of course, I knew little boys in my fifth-grade class who had liked me before, and I had that die-hard third-grade crush that I thought was just the bee’s knees. Call it puppy love, call it what you want to call it. But, I knew I wasn’t supposed to have a boyfriend yet, so I actually never did until my parents said it was okay.
(Yes, I was that “goodie goodie” child who listened to my parents and respected them.)
While a second-grade boyfriend and young love is seemingly adorable, even emotional attachment at a young age is a real thing and can leave one or both young kids feeling heartbroken.
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I remember my parents always said it was because they were trying to protect me – they did not want me to ever experience a true heartbreak. Although I did go on to experience one in high school, I ended up not being one of those girls who has “loved” seventeen boyfriends and gone into depression over fourteen failed relationships…
While, I understand sometimes this is inevitable, I somewhat attribute my lack of experience in heartbreaks to my parent’s sound dating advice and protection. Here are some things they talked to me about regarding relationships:
Would you marry them?
One of the very first things my parents taught me at a young age – and something I will go on to teach my children – is that the purpose of dating is to find out who you will marry. Why date someone if you know you would not want to spend forever with them?
Let your children know that dating is basically interviewing for their spouse. While they might not talk about marriage right off the bat, and that is very much okay, they should still consider that they could fall deeply in love with who they start dating. So, choose wisely. It is all just a trial run for their future.
Tell them the dark details.
They don’t necessarily need to know when you lost your virginity, but tell them about your heartbreaks. Tell them about relationships you might have had where you thought they were the one, but how they turned out not to be.
While we can’t teach them everything through our experiences – yes, mom and dad, they will have to make mistakes on their own – we can help them along the way by sharing.
Don’t beat around the bush – give them real answers and let them know the ins and outs of dating. Once they have a solid foundation of why people date, then they understand what it is all about and what to expect, they will go into a relationship with a much clearer and sounder mind.
Lastly, set guidelines. While too many guidelines can be confining, leading them to rebellion, or no rules, leave a lot of room for trouble and heartbreak.
Possibly, if your child is reasonable enough, work with them together to set rules. By allowing them to collaborate with you, it will feel less like confinement and more like collaboration.
In a world full of social media and other devious outlets, relationships – especially at a young age – are not what they used to be. All too often, children are exposed to things too young.
They will both thank you.
There is something to be said for a sound relationship. By teaching your children the foundations of a good relationship and what to look for, hopefully you will guide them one day into a healthy marriage where they know what they are looking for and how to appreciate their spouse.
Then, they will both thank you. How do you discuss relationships with your children? Leave a comment below!