My wife and I knew this day would come, but we did not expect it to come so soon. Our son is now in junior high school, and he will soon turn thirteen. He has begun to notice something strange from which -- until now -- he shied away. He has started to notice girls! My wife and I have seen this behavior in the students we teach, but we must now deal with it as parents. We cannot stop him from liking a girl, but we do not want him to worry about dating or having a girlfriend just yet.
Asked to the formal banquet
Each January, our school hosts a formal banquet for the junior high department, grades 7-9. A very nice girl in our son's seventh-grade class asked him to take her. He did not answer her right away for two reasons. First, he did not yet know of he even wanted to go to the banquet. Second, he was not sure if we would let him because we had previously talked to him about not dating too early. We will let him go, but we want him to go as friends only.
What we see among early teens
My wife and I have both taught junior high school and high school for twenty years. We have seen countless numbers of the teenage relationships. We have seen those that have lasted all through high school and those that lasted as little as a few days. We have seen the girls' folders with "I Love Tommy 4-Ever." The next day, Tommy's name is erased and replaced with David's. Next week, David's name is crossed out and replaced, and so on. I remember a relationship of my own that lasted exactly one day.
Just make friends
We want our son to enjoy his youth. We cannot keep him from liking a girl, but we do not want him to worry about dating or having a girlfriend at twelve years old. We just want him to make as many friends (boys and girls) as possible. He can have fun playing games, talking on the phone, and socializing with anyone of whom we approve. At his age, friends are far more important that one-on-one relationships.
Ending friendships after dating
My wife and I have seen too many of our students' friendships end as a result of dating gone wrong. It happened to me in school. I tried to date my best female friend, and we ended up not even speaking to each other until well after graduation. We do not want our son to experience the emotional anguish of losing a friend in addition to a girlfriend at such a young age.
Dating will come later
Our son will have plenty of time for dating. We want him to wait at least until he is well into high school. By then, he will know more kids, learn to make more friends, and learn to find out who his best friends really are. We will also have a chance to talk to him more about relationships so he can understand a little more about them. Most importantly, we want him to enjoy his youth while he can and not try to grow up too fast. He gets one chance to be a kid, and we get one chance to watch him. None of us want to miss that chance.
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