C.C. asks from Alvin, TX on August 11, 2009
11 Year Old Boy "Dating"
OK - I need some guidance. I have an 11 year old boy who's very interested in girls. I have always been as open & honest with him in regards to anything he has ever wanted to ask. He's at the age were everyone is "going out" with someone. What/if anything could/should I allow him to do with girls? I don't wanna be overprotective, but I also in NO means want to seem as though I am encouraging sexual activity.....Anyone out there already been or currently going through this??
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W.W. answers from Houston on August 12, 2009
He sounds pretty grown up for an 11 year old boy. Even though he likes girls he is not allowed to touch anywhere inappropriate at that age. I would let him go out with girls but only if others who are sensible are there. Let him know that anywhere under the clothing is out of bounds, but he can be friends.
K.M. answers from Houston on August 11, 2009
My experience with my two boys (one grown, one in college) is that at the age of your son "going out" is more of a status thing at school than actually going anywhere. Both of my boys were "going out" with girls at different times, but it didn't involve anything other than phone calls (monitored by us) and talking at school until they were in high school. There is absolutely no need for alone time or unsupervised communication at this age!!!
One suggestion is that you have your husband have a man-to-man talk with him about getting ready to be a good husband by learning how to treat a girl. He can even tell him he is teaching him what he needs to know for when it's time to date: holding your chair at dinnertime, helping you on with you coat, holding the door open for you and other women, grooming, hygine, safty issues, etc. It's never too early to learn to be a gentleman. Also, it's time to communicate with him what your beliefs are about sex. Our beliefs are that sex is only appropriate in marriage, and we were clear with our boys about that. Communication is key here. No shame, just wanting to have what is beautiful when it is time.
Check out Lookadoo.com and see what you think of Justin Lookadoo's website and books. He had some things to say that really effected one of my boys. One of the things he said that I remember is that "we don't open the doors for women because they are women, we open doors for women because we are gentlemen." He also talked openly about the issues with sex and dating, etc. It has been several years now, so I don't recall what is age-appropriate for your son, but it seems like his talks and book/books were insightful.
One other thing I remember from this age is that while they boys feel all grown up and manly, they still need their mommy. They may not know it, but they do. I wish you well.
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N.S. answers from Houston on August 12, 2009
Encourage him to be friends with girls. 11 yo is too young to be dating and regardless of what he has told you - not everyone is doing it.
Lots of kids hang out together - they meet at the mall, the movies, a restaurant - but parents should always be involved and in sight.
Kids grow up fast enough - there is nothing wrong with letting them be kids for as long as possible. What did your parents allow you to do at 11?
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M.B. answers from Beaumont on August 12, 2009
We never allowed our son or two girls to get involved in these kinds of adolescent going together kind of things and they were so glad when they were older.
Explain to him that dating is for picking the person that he is going to ultimately marry and that at 11 he is no where near ready for that and that he needs to chill out and be friends with girls and boys and learn to make those kinds of relationships first.
Get him involved in sports and church and other activities that are healthier and where he can interact with members of both sexes without the weird pressure of going out.
Believe me not everyone is doing it. That won't be the last time you hear that one you have to learn to nip that one in the bud.
Tell him that all the really smart beautiful girls are going to be in college and he does not want to be already tied down to somebody since he was 11 when he gets there.
They need you to help them make long term goals and you need to help him aim higher than just hooking up with girls.
If his friends are doing that then he may need to find a wider more diverse group to hang with.
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C.S. answers from Houston on August 12, 2009
This cracks me up! I have a friend who has 2 daughters that are just about my sons ages. She would tell me since they were in 6th grade that someone was "going out" with someone. I would ask "What do you mean by going out?", because who goes out at that age? And where do they go? They can only get somewhere if a parent takes them! She explained it's just what they say. My son who just turned 12 said he had 3 "girlfriends" last year. He thinks he's "Mr. Cool" and I never heard a girl call the house for him or heard him call a girl. I would ask your son what he means by "going out". I personally am not going to let my son go on a "date" until he's going to high school. He can meet a group of frineds at the movies that include girls, but not a one on one thing. Call it overprotective, but I remember having a friend who got pregnant at 14. I was so naive that I couldn't imagine doing anything like that. Needless to say, my mom decided I wasn't going to be friends with this girl any longer. Hope this helps.
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L.R. answers from Austin on August 12, 2009
Truthfully, I doubt if "everyone" is going out with someone. Kids your sons age think that one to three people means "everyone". My guess is that your son would be secretly relieved if you put the brakes on any sort of "dating" at this time. He has a lifetime to date and just a short time left to be young.
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L.W. answers from Austin on August 12, 2009
Have you talked with your husband about what his vision is in this area? I just went to a conference this weekend that talked about preparing our sons to eventually be husbands, and helping our daughters look for qualities in men (eventually) that show they'll be good husbands (I know radical for our day and age!)
www.crossway.org look for Voddie Baucham Jr's book called, What He Must Be...if he wants to marry my daughter....
I know you are just asking a question about dating, but at the age of 11 its a good time for parents, especially dad to encourage their boys to spend the time preparing for one of the most exciting times of life...and in my opinion that's not by dating, even though the interest may be there...letting your son know that this is a really special part of life and that girls his age may be trying to get his attention, (or he may start to be distracted by them) If he takes this time of life to begin developing his own character, one day the best will come.
Dating is relatively a new concept historically, and used to mean going and doing something fun...the goal was self-gratification. There's nothing wrong with taking a group of kids out for an ice cream. But its not fair to either a boy or girl to create a situation where they feel they need to date to grow up.
Courting used to be what was done and involved the parents helping the child chose a mate when they were ready...I am not saying choosing it for them! I believe that we can help our children to spend this time developing character traits that will help them when it is time for this.
Again, all this would come better from Dad to son...part of that becoming man thing. Please check out the info above...my husband found it helpful.
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D.C. answers from San Antonio on August 12, 2009
This is long-winded, but it gives the view point of talking to a son AND to a daughter, and about discussing different topics. It may be over-the-top for some, so my appologies an advance.
My husband and I are also open with our daughter and son, age appropriately. Our daughter knows all of the science of reproduction (yes, she's watched animals on farms mate). Our 6 yr old son knows how boys & girls have different body parts and their proper names, about privacy of each person's body and that it takes a Mommy and Daddy getting married before they're allowed to have a baby. We only answer the questions they ask and he's not interested right now. He has a "girlfriend" from Kinder last year. They both decided that they "love" each other. I know her Mom and we've talked about it. We've both told our kids: NO kissing, period! NO hugging, except after school when one of us Moms is there.
I have told our kids about being true to the other person. I'll tell my conversation with just my son since using "he/she told his/her girlfriend/boyfriend" gets real old, real fast and with him the conversation was simpler. I told him that since they have discussed and AGREED that they are a "couple", that a person can only have ONE girlfriend or boyfriend at a time. He cannot be anybody else's boyfriend while he is her boyfriend. If he wants to have a different girlfriend, he has to tell the one he has that he doesn't want to be her boyfriend anymore BEFORE he asks another girl to be his girlfriend. I told my daughter that she needs to follow this rule, as well, that it is not just the boys who have to be true. Also, that they can break up with someone if the other person is not true in return.
Our son has mentioned that he wants to have babies with his girlfriend when they grow up. I explained that they BOTH need to graduate high school first and that IF they still love each other at that time, THEN they can get married and THEN they can have babies.
My daughter will be 10 next month. This past school year (3rd grade), she and a boy she has been in class with since Kinder decided that they "liked" each other. On Valentine's she brought home the $1 Store flowers, heart ornament and teddybear keychain he gave her. It was really cute. I asked if she liked him back the same way. She said yes. I asked if it was because she felt she HAD to since he gave her the gifts or did she like him BEFORE he gave her the gifts? She said, "no, we talked about it last week." I asked her if they were boyfriend/girlfriend. She said yes. Had they kissed? "Eeewww, no, gross!" So far, so good. I explained that since I knew who he was AND his parents it was okay. They could hold hands SOMETIMES, however, there was to be NO KISSING. She said okay. I explained that I asked her those questions so that in the future she would know that she does NOT have to like someone or do anything she doesn't want to just because that person gives her something.
I know it sounds young to teach them that, but I feel that learning now to "be true" and "waiting" will save them some heartache later and help them to be better spouses (and maybe help with "the Talk" later as well). I can't stand hearing people say: "it's not an issue - my daughter can't date until she's 30, but my boy can have as many girlfriends at one time as he wants and he can start dating and doing "what he wants" with girls when he gets interested in girls - that's My Boy! What a Stud!" Hello! Who's daughter is he going to be dating at 11? Someone's 10 yr old daughter! So, my son and daughter are going to learn respect for themselves and others NOW.
No real dating until 16 for my daughter OR my son. They can hang out at school, and maybe the other child can go on outings with us as a family activity. I've agreed to discuss kissing at a later date, but NONE for now, and sex would be best saved for marriage, if possible. I was 17 and CHOSE not to wait for marriage (I haven't told her THAT yet), so I know it can be difficult to resist. We'll have the birth control/protection talk when that seems appropriate. My daughter asks questions earlier than most people feel she should, but it's hard to shield her when things are all over the commercials now AND she thinks AGES above most kids her age (her Gifted/Talented Teacher says that's normal for G/T kids and she'll always be ahead in things like that intellectually even though WE'RE not ready). She knows what the word condom is, but not exactly what the item is or is used for. She figured out the Viagra and the "makes men bigger" drug commercials (can't remember the name) all by herself! Ugh! If I feel the answers to a question are too old for her, she accepts when I tell her, "Sweety, MOM's not ready to answer that one, let me think about how I need to talk that one over with you." We have always been open with our kids about our bodies, that waiting until marriage for sex is best, that NO ONE has any right to make them do anything they don't want to and that they can talk to us about ANYTHING.
I hope some of this helps. We're in for a wild ride :)
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H.P. answers from Houston on August 11, 2009
You can't control what interests him or when, but you can control some of his activities. Get to know his friends and which girls interest him, and be careful to monitor any activities that include those girls. You and your husband (especially your husband, at this point) should continue to teach him how to treat people, girls in particular...how to respond to any advances, whether or not they are sexually overt. Help him to avoid getting too close to any one girl by limiting their contact and encouraging multiple girl friends.
Be sure to keep open the lines of communication between you. Try not to overreact in his presence to some of the things that he might tell you or that you might overhear because overreacting will teach him what to keep quiet about.
Good luck to you! You're entering a most awkward period.
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