M.M. asks from Leawood, KS on October 08, 2007
13 Year Old Son Has a "Girlfriend"
My 13 year old son has a girlfriend. He is the youngest of four and believe it or not we have not delt with this until now. My other boys are so into thier sports and school things and say they don't have time for girls and enjoy hanging out with the guys. We have always told our boys dating is for finding your future wife and not for your entertainment and he is not looking for a wife right now! This girl sends text messages all day long saying I love you, did I tell you I love you today and calling him "babe". He says he does not say the same back and it is awkward for him but he does like her. These are 7th graders. I am just shocked by this! Of course he says everyone has a girl/boy friend. My other boys were in a Christian school and he is in public and this just did not happen there. I think this is to young and very distracting. Am I over reacting? Is this normal and innocent? What do you guys think?
M.G. answers from Kansas City on October 09, 2007
I have to agree with Cori B. Christian schools and public schools do differ in a lot of ways. I have went to both, and so has my son. You are going to get a lot more support in not dating and staying pure in a Christian school than a public school. And I am not saying that Christian schools are perfect, because they certainly are not. There is just more of a common ground in a Christian school, and that is Christianity, which supports staying pure before the Lord (both in mind and body) and protecting your heart.
Yes, boys and girls notice each other at a certain age, especially when certain hormones kick in. God created us this way. But we also need to protect our children's heart and prevent them from getting into things they cannot handle. We need to explain that it's normal to have feelings towards and notice the opposite sex. But we need to explain to them what to do with those feelings. We have a 15, almost 16, year old son that we don't allow to date. His focus right now needs to be on school, sports, a job, his friends and things of that nature. The minute you get involved with the opposite sex your focus totally turns to that person. I also believe, at that age, your child's feelings and heart is exposed to feelings and disappointments prematurely. And, little by little, their innocence gets taken away. At that age, more than likely, the person they "date" is not going to be there wife or husband. So why "play house", so to speak? Are they ready to marry that person? Of course not. So that means there will be lots of break ups and heartaches and things that kids should not go through at such a young age.
In my opinion, 13 years old is WAY too young for a girlfriend. What does he know about taking care of a girl and handling her feelings and her heart in the right way. I believe this relationship with this girl is doing more harm than good. What does she know about loving your son? Actually, it probably is awkward for him to hear those things she tells him. It taps into feelings and emotions that he is not ready to experience or handle.
Go with your heart and your gut. I can hear in your words that you are not comfortable with him dating and with him talking to this girl. GO WITH THAT! We only have an extremely short amount of time to impact our children's lives and to protect them. I believe that if every person on this board said that you are overreacting and you need to let him date this girl, you still would feel unsettled with that. Again, GO WITH WHAT YOUR HEART IS TELLING YOU!
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B.S. answers from Kansas City on October 08, 2007
Well...I went to private Christian school until I was a sophmore and I'll say that "dating" or whatever you want to call it certainly does go on there, even at young ages. There was an instance when I was a freshman that a girl and boy snuck up in a media room together and had sex. They didn't kiss, just had sex. They didn't kiss simply because if their parents asked, they weren't lying. So yes...stuff like that (dating or what be it) most certainly does go on.
I come from a conservative family. I grew up thinking pretty much the same thing. Now that I'm a mother, I will do things a little different. Kids WILL do this whether you like it or not. I just had this talk with my dad regarding my little sister who is 16. I basically told them that even though she is a perfect child (she never, ever gets in trouble, makes A's, involved with every activity at church), she WILL still "go out" with boys. I guess as a mother, I'd just rather know who my daughter was going out with along with their family, etc, rather than stress that they were "going out" in the first place. It will happen. Even in the best of families. Maybe just set guidelines for the situation...
No phone calls after 9. No being alone together. No going "out" in public places without a chaperon. She's more than welcome to come to the house and play games, etc., etc..
Maybe this will help a little.
J.C. answers from Kansas City on October 09, 2007
I think in a sense he IS looking for his future wife. I didn't have many relationships before I met my husband, but I learned something about myself or what I wanted in a partner from each one. By exploring how boy/girl relationships work, he is building a base of knowledge that will help him find and relate to his partner later on.
Your concern should be making sure he knows what is appropriate behavior and what is not. He should know that even if she thinks she wants to behave inappropriately, he will be respecting himself AND her by behaving appropriately. My friends' parents had what I thought was a great strategy, and my parents employed the same tactic with great results. They created a semi-private area in their house where their kids WANTED to hang out with their friends (a basement, or family room with a glass door). This kept the kids close to home, and while the parents didn't check up TOO often (you don't want to meddle too much, or they'll start going to someone's house where parents aren't around), it was always a possibility that mom or dad could walk in at any moment. This kept the kids behaving how they should, but able to talk freely to eachother without mom & dad overhearing.
You need to give kids SOME space and let them know you trust them to do the right things. You need to know that by setting a good example and talking to them about what you expect from them, you've taught them how to make the right decisions.
As for the girl saying she loves him, this is HER lesson to learn from this relationship. In a couple of years, she'll look back and be mortified that she was so forthcoming with her affections, and she'll be more appropriately reserved.
C.B. answers from Kansas City on October 08, 2007
Ok, you are going to have a lot of different advice on this.
I understand and agree with your views on dating...the whole point of dating is to find a husband/wife, not for recreation. This is how we feel and our very good friends feel this way too. My friend is actually going through the same thing with her 14 year old right now. They eventually had to call the boy that their daughter was talking to in that way and tell them their views. This was a last resort after trying to let her handle it herself. But it didn't happen so they had to intervene. I think explaining why again (and again and again) will drill it into him. And then sitting down and asking why he feels like he needs to pursue this. If it's a peer pressure thing, or what. Talking about the importance of knowing someone very well before saying the "L" word and understanding what it means. I don't think you're over reacting at all. Do you know how many kids "now a days" are having sex at that age? And normal and innocent is just defined by your family's beliefs. Some families think it's normal and innocent, while others are just frantic when this kind of issue comes up. And when he says he doesn't say it back, I'm afraid he may not be telling the whole truth. A lot of kids just tell their parents what they think they want to hear so they're not embarrassed or in trouble for it. But he is your son, you know better than anyone if it's true or not.
Christian schools and public schools are so different when it comes to morals. In a Christian school, you have the help and support of the school to back up your morals and beliefs, in public schools, they can't even touch the subject of religion or faith so things are over looked as "normal". I understand the need to feel like he fits in with the group. It was the same way when I was going to school. The pressure is horrible, it's almost like you're the only one without a girlfriend or boyfriend and then the hormones are going crazy anyway. It would have helped me if my parents reminded me why I wasnt' allowed to "date" and always told me they were proud of my strength and responsibility to sticking to what we believed in.
Good luck..I hope I was some help.
B.H. answers from Kansas City on October 08, 2007
i would talk to your older boys (the 20 and 18 year olds)and get their view on it. they may be able to give you some insight and even help with communication with the 13 year old.
S.D. answers from St. Joseph on October 09, 2007
Sorry to say, yes this is very normal. The intense feeling one gets at the beginning of a relationship can be overwhelming to a pubescent teen. So of course they would call it "love". Try to keep the lines of communication open and make clear what is and is not acceptable behavior with this girl. Like hand holding, hugging, and kissing are ok, but other forms of touching are not. If you make it all taboo he will only hide it from you and probably do some things a lot sooner than he might with your supervision. Make it normal and healthy and he will (for the most part) act that way. You can't stop the puberty train, but with understanding and support you can help keep it from becomeing a runaway train. lol hope this helps.
C.L. answers from Kansas City on October 09, 2007
Honestly, at this age, it is normal. I'm 25, and back when I was that age, everyone had a girlfriend or boyfriend. Of course there was nothing more to do then walk each other to class, write notes, and go to dances together etc... My son's in 1st grade, and even there some of the kids have "boyfriends/girlfriends" which means nothing serious to them, except that is a special person they like, so they gave them a special name. I don't think it's to big of a deal as far as being normal. My cousin is 16, and used to seem he had a different "girlfriend" every month or so, but the older he gets, the longer they stay together as they are learning how relationships work. In a sense, it's good practice so they know how relationships should work as far as thought, consideration, giving and taking etc... I didn't date till I was 18, and of course fell hard for the first guy I got in a serious relationship with because I didn't date around or have that relationship experiance before. Know what I mean? I'm assuming that you want him to take dating serious, as he shouldn't just get in a relationship with anyone (hence your statement of dating is for finding a wife). BUT some people might not be just anyone to him, and dating around in a sense helps him learn and grow in all honesty, so when he does find that right one, he'll know for sure, and how to make that relationship work. I hope that makes sense... I don't think I'd worry to much about the title of this "girlfriend" but more as to what thier "girlfriend/boyfriend" activities are...
P.S. As far as the Christian Vs Public schools go. My friend used to go to Chrisitan school before transferring to public, and there was way more PG-13+ going on in that Christian school then some of the teachers or parents knew. So it really doesn't matter what kind of school it is, it more matters as to what kind of teachers there are working at the school, and how wide they keep their eyes open ; )
A.L. answers from Kansas City on October 09, 2007
Going to a Christian school (or not) has nothing to do with having a boy/girl friend, it's the "times". Things have changed (and not necessarily in a good way). Kids are in a hurry to grow up so fast (some have no choice) plus, his older brothers (who are role models), probably have girlfriends now. I would not get to worried at this point, as the connotation of "girl/boyfriend" does not mean they are going on dates, planning a future or anything like that. Ask your son what it means to be a boyfriend. It could be as simple as they write notes to each other and hang out at recess (if that). Don't freakout, just talk to him and I'm sure everything will be fine.