Dating and Middle Schoolers

Updated on May 18, 2012
N.A. asks from Palmyra, PA
25 answers

So my daughter is twelve and just was recently asked by her crush "will you go out with me?". She is struggling with this because her best friend likes this boy too but he does not like her. Her friend is telling her to go for it, and that she's happy for her but is sad that no one likes her. Her grandmother however, is telling my child that she should definately say no because she will gain a reputation as "that girl" and to watch out for Karma. Seriously?! She's twelve! Who says that to a kid? And the last time I checked I am her mother.

I guess I have two..three concerns. Is she too young for "dating" which in middle school is really just texting and saying hi in the halls. Although, this boy does not own a cell phone so they will not be texting each other. Should I be encouraging her to say yes or say no. And would you be mad about her grandmother and what she told her?

Also I should say that we do not have a computer at home and she is not permitted to have a facebook account. She is also a distinguished honor roll student.

There would absolutely be some rules/boudaries such as no spending time alone, outings will be chaperoned by me, etc.

What can I do next?

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answers from Minneapolis on

My 12 year old 7th grader has a few boys this year who have become her good friends. They talk on the phone. They see each other at school. That's really about it. She says she does not like them romantically. One of them asked her to a movie. DH and I said no to that. 12 is too young to go to a movie, just one boy and one girl. Now I would certainly allow her to go in a group of 5-6 or more mixed genders to a movie (didn't tell her that), but not one on one or double date kind of group. She actually didn't give her Dad and I too much grief when we said no. It made me think she may actually have been relieved to make us the heavy in telling this boy no. I do think he would like her to be more than a friend, so we're watching it carefully.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

A friend of mine is dealing with the same issue. Her daughter is 12 also. She let her have the boyfriend because she said when she was that age she couldn't have a boyfriend so she had one anyway without telling her mother. She said their going out consists of saying you are my boyfriend/girlfriend they actually go anywhere. My friend talks to her daughter about the boyfriend and her daughter tells her everything. I guess just try to keep open communication with her. The boyfriend won't last long anyway.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

To young to date in my opinion..... they can be sweethearts and mail stuff here and there..... but would not allow holding hands or them being alone. I think some rules should be established as a family now this is coming up. But that is just me ( kids are just starting too young and things are happening too fast these days ). My children won't be able to date until 16 and I think that there should be some back up expectations prior to that happening...meeting the boy, parents, establish that they are not allowed to go in a car, meet alone somewhere......things like is overwhelming to think these kids are not far from this.

I think if friend is okay, there should not be hard feelings.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Pittsburgh on

From O. of your other questions...
You said "Also, she doesn't have a good relationship with her dad and that does make a lot of sense that she is seeking male attention. She is a straight A student and I don't beleive she has any intentions on being promiscous though"

You need to watch this girl like a HAWK as far as relationships with boys are concerned. (Straight A's, band, good kid or not!)
She is at a very, VERY high risk for promiscuity and a trend of allowing males define her, approve/disapprove of her, etc.
The term "go for it" here troubles me, it's as if she's claiming a prize or something...

So...texting? Sure--as long as you're checking it daily.

If she asked for her grandmother's opinion then granny had a right to give it, I guess.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I met my husband when I was 13.

We were very chaste. Hold hands, sit next to each other, send notes, phone calls.

We dated on and off for years. Stayed virgins till college.

When and if we went on any dates while in middle school, it was with a group of friends and our parents drove and picked us up.

I think this is a good age to speak openly about your expectations and proper behaviors.

My mother used to talk with me and any of the guys I went out with very openly about what was proper behaviors for our ages.

The boys I liked were all pretty much gentlemen and respected my mom, so if they did not live up to expectations, I dropped them.

My mom invited them to our home a lot. Family board games, movies, church and church events and also our big family events... She was a very smart woman. These guys really looked up to her, so they respected me too.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

12 was when I had my first "boyfriend" which was really nothing like dating at 16. We only saw each other in school and didn't even talk on the phone that I remember.

I would not encourage or discourage it. This isn't dating, it's about emotional maturation. You can't tell someone to not feel something. That always backfires. You also shouldn't make it more than it probably is, a short term crush.

You do need to talk to her about what is and isn't appropriate behavior. It's okay to like a boy and talk to him, but don't compromise yourself trying to get him to like you back.

Unfortunately, some little girls are already exploring sexual activities at age 12. You're going to need to talk to her about that stuff too. Even at school, there are opportunities to make bad choices.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I would laugh at grandma but not be mad, they come from a different time, ya know.

My girls are/were not allowed to date until they were in high school. The one that just graduated from college took that restriction and raised me to college. She went on her first date halfway through her first semester of college. She hung out in high school with a coed group. Oh she went to an all girls high school. She never went to a dance alone but going with a friend is just not dating.

The younger one is eleven and has the same rules. Pretty sure big sis has already lectured her to not date in high school as well. :)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

for starters, of course i wouldn't be mad at grandma. she didn't say anything lewd or derogatory, she simply gave her opinion that is tinged with her beliefs. a teenager is bound to encounter some opinions in the world that don't exactly line up with yours. personally i'm delighted when family members express care and concern by discussing important matters with my kids. conclusions or opinions that we don't agree with make excellent discussion fodder.
as for the crush, i myself don't get panicky about it. 12 year olds are teenagers in training, and it's only natural that they're interested in exploring opposite sex relationships. you can put whatever boundaries your parenting philosophy requires around (no solo dates, no kissing, all texting to be monitored or whatever) but telling her to 'go for it' is a little on the racy side. what interests me most is that she's considering NOT dating this boy, not because of anything you or grandma is saying, but because she doesn't want to hurt her friend. what a sweetheart. i also love that the friend is encouraging her in spite of her own disappointment. that's where i'd be directing my conversations, at learning to draw the mutable lines between being sensitive and courteous, and being true to oneself. sounds like you've been doing a bang-up job thus far.
so my answers to you would be no, she's not too young for dating, so long as the dating is clearly defined. as for question 2, i'd step out of the approve/disapprove box altogether. discuss her feelings and your morality with her and let her make her own decision. and absolutely not mad at grandmother.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

At this age, no dating, no texting, no cell phone. Your mother is right she is way too young (perhaps she could have worded it differently, but she said it out of love and concern), so no I would not be upset with her. If your daughter wants to communicate with her friends, she can do so from the computer at home.

If a group of kids want to get together at the mall, pizza, or a movie, that's great. These one on one dates at this age is just asking for trouble. You may have already given her "the talk", but are you ready for a twelve year old to become sexually active? Her friend is telling her to "go for it"! Go for what?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Yes, she is too young to successfully navigate a boy/girlfriend relationship even if it's just texting. Remember, boy/girlfriend relationships can and often do progress very quickly.

In terms of advice to give your daughter as it relates to her friend, I would ask your daughter, "What is your intent in "going out" with this boy?". She will likely say, "To have fun". Then, your response can be, "Do you need to "go out" with him in order to have fun and enjoy his company?". And the answer should be, "No".

At this age, I'd imagine her friendship with her friend is more important to her and long lasting. And it would hurt her friend by accepting this invitation of "going out", which is meaningless anyways since they just text.

Should you be mad at the grandma? No, she's telling your daughter the truth, however not tactfully.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

She's too young, don't encourage it, and don't be mad at grandma.

My son is 13, in 7th grade and he is not allowed to date until he is 16.
He tells me he doesn't want to.
(He has friends, but he tells me all his friends are more or less alike but a few just happen to be girls - they are not 'girlfriends'.)
I tell him if anyone asks he can make me out to be the bad guy and say he can't cause of Mom's 16 yr rule.
He says he sees what some of his friends go through, the initial euphoria, and then the inevitable crash and burn followed by weeks/months of pointless drama and my son is like "You do this for fun?".
Your Mom (MIL?) is not wrong although her terminology might be a bit dated.
Personally I prefer '16 and never been kissed' to '16 and never been missed'.
And just because you are sure your 12 yr old is not active sexually, there are some who are and they can get some pretty bad reputations.
Young people seem to push for exclusive relationships very early, way before they are ready for them, then wig out when the whole thing fizzles in a few weeks.
Texting people and saying 'Hi' are great ways to be friends, but I wouldn't call that dating.
Have talks with your daughter so you are both on the same page about what dating means and is.
Dating does not mean you are engaged, so no one should be storming off in a huff because someone spoke to / texted another boy or girl.
(There was a post awhile ago about some then 12 yr old girl who set up and terrorized a guy for being 'unfaithful'. Oh and it's such a funny story now although the participant is slightly ashamed about it now at how immature she was back then.)
Young people (teens - older high school into college) SHOULD be dating lots different people so they can find out what they like and more importantly what they don't like.
Exclusive relationships come along when you are pretty much done with your search for an eventual mate, and when you are sure, the engagement happens.
My son knows this and he understands what he is and is not ready for.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Okay, the boy likes her, she likes the boy, the friend is okay with it. Why is this a problem? As for karma, is she only allowed to date boys no one else is interested in???

The only thing I would watch is to make sure it really is limited to texting and saying hi in the halls. "Going out," in jr. high, CAN mean a whole lot more than that. I don't think you have any real justification for preventing this, but I WOULD try to monitor the spaces where they're together. At the very minimum, monitor her each and every text.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

Ignore Grandma. That reasoning is kind of out of the realm of reality. But what good does it do to be mad at Grandma for what she said? She's very old school and a little strange (sorry), if you ask me. Just tell your daughter that her grandmother doesn't understand modern day dating.

However, I would not allow a 12 year old, boy OR girl, to date. She is too young. Period.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sherman on

i have a son who is the same age and we are going through this , my answer for when he wanted a girlfriend was,lets start slow you can have a friend at school who you sit by and pass notes to maybe text and call holding hands maybe could wait and make sure you like the girl, i tell him right now its not that important to have a girlfriend because your still kids and you should just have fun.

i would tell her that she could(only if your comfortable with it) and tell her what she can and can not do, lay the ground rules.

and yes i would be mad as heck if anyone said that to my daughter, your daughter is coming of age and is now intrusted in boys if you tell her dont she will want to just becuase she cant, as for that girl?? thats just crazy like you said they are 12 there only gonna see each other at school, i dont see any harm in it, just talk with your daughter when she does get a boyfriend keep up with whats going on just to make sure its going the way you want..good luck

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Don't open this Pandora's Box. She is still a kid as far as I'm concerned. Neither of you need drama. Encourage the girl to focus on academics and save dating for when she's a junior or senior in high school.

If she starts now, she's going to be a baby mama by the next school year or have a really awful reputation on Facebook, whether it's true or not. That's just the way things are today. I say don't be a Lemming and avoid the usual and be happy. Dating...even at age 12 isn't group outings anymore. It's code for sex. So get that straight right now.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I'm editing, just for brevity and clarity:

First: is she too young to date? (even if it's just texting and saying hi): Yes. In my family, 'dating' was reserved for at least 14/15 years old and already in high school. AND your grades had to be up. Before that age, you could meet at the roller rink or arcade with a group of friends (or other common gathering in public), but that was it.

No boyfriends or girlfriends until high school. Period. I don't believe in changing rules because 'they'll just do it anyway' morals and guidance don't change because of my fear my son will do it anyway. If I don't stand firm, who does he have to look up to for support and guidance--the woman who caves in?

If it were me, I'd encourage my child (daughter OR son) to focus on their interests, schoolwork, etc. and let them know that if that other person is really, truly their destiny, they're going to still be interested AND will have time to get to know each other better by hanging out at group gatherings and developing friendships. Prioritizing getting to know someone, in my opinion, teaches our kids that relationships are about more than crushes or attraction, they are about getting to know the whole person.

I would be the big bad mom and say "no". There's something to be said for having something to wait for. When I was a kid, signs at many businesses would say "12 and under, Free" or "Over 12/Adult" because 12 year olds are still perceived as children. Children do not need the complication of 'dating'. Would you also want this to complicate her friendships? It sounds like this has some potential to do so.

And no, I wouldn't be mad at grandma. Consider her generation. Consider that she's concerned about her grandchild's reputation. In my opinion, she's just telling it like it is. Yes, it would have been better if she'd saved that concern for your ears alone, but I don't think your daughter will be traumatized-- I'm sure she's heard worse spoken about other kids at school.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My son is in the 8th grade, and is 14. When he was 12, he asked a girl to "go out with him," but they didn't go anywhere. It was just what they said when they liked someone. It only lasted a month, and he hasn't had a girlfriend since then. He's much more focused on his friends (male and female) and grades. A couple of his friends have gone on group dates to the movies, but only a couple. None of them had at 12.

As for grandmother's comments, I guess she has a right to her opinions, but you certainly have a right to disagree, and make your opinions known to your daughter. What I would stress to your daughter is that friends are more important than boys. That is a difficult message to teach to young girls, but it's an important one.

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answers from San Francisco on

In middle school this isn't really dating, it's "practice" dating, and I know a lot of parents say they don't allow it but it's going to happen at school whether you allow it or not. I think it's a great time to learn about boys and friendships without sex being an issue.
Having said that, keep the dialogue open with your daughter, and above all else make sure she knows that she should do what SHE wants to do. At this age there's a whole lotta matchmaking going on, kids are constantly pressured by their friends to "go out" with someone they may not even like.
As far as her grandmother? She's just old fashioned, and probably having a hard time seeing her granddaughter grow up, I wouldn't take that comment too seriously :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My son was 12 when he had his first and second girlfriend. His second he's been with for going on 10 months. They see eachother more than most kids that age do but her mother and myself are best friends so it's easy to get them together but they are always with one of us or at the libarary together after school. Your mom probably does not want her to have a boyfriend cause she thinks she's too young my mom still gives me a hard time about my son having a girlfriend. I remind her that I am the momma not her. If the friend is ok with it then she should not feel bad.

Good luck and God Bless!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

In middle school, it is really not "dating" as some people associate dating as one on one. Like you said, it is mostly lunch, texting, sitting together when possible, maybe the school social if they have one.

I am in the camp that if you forbid a boyfriend, then she will more than likely go behind your back which sets up a wild ride for you are mom when you lack communication.

Set boundaries, make sure your communication is clear with her and have open dialogue a LOT, believe me, you need it.

Some middle schoolers around here will meet at the movies in groups of 10+. Parents drop off and pick up.

Don't agree with something you are not comfortable with but make sure you communicate with your daughter.

I think Grandmother's comments were out of line.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

YES, she's too young to date! If she's going to start dating at 12 what will she expect at age 14? How about 16?She needs to do age appropriate things. 12 and dating is not one of them. You don't have to "encourage" her to do anything. You tell her what's acceptable and what's not, period.

Was Gramma wrong? Well, her intentions were right and she had a right to voice her opinion but maybe not quite the way she did.

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

someone below mentioned a post about not connecting with her dad or not having a good relationship with him and I agree with them that its the perfect storm for being promiscous(sp). I had a rough childhood somewhat and wanted male attention so bad. I didnt realize why, obviously I do now...luckily I hung out with all older kids and dating wasnt available to M. (since i was off limits in the crew) until i was 14. I met my ex and started physical activity by 15 and I can tell you that if I wasn't with him from 14-26 I probably would've been a WH**E because I was missing something. I was missing a positive male figure and all of the sterotypes are mostly true. I felt I needed a guy. Instead I put all of my issues into pleasing him and was only with him for that period.

I would be mad at grandma jusst tell my daughter, ohhhh you know grandma she's a little crazy and quirky, but ya gotta love her (it was her opnion, she didn't tell your daughter something so bad)
as for caring about the other friend liking the boy- i had sittuations like this happen, whoever liked eachother ended up together...the friend cant be mad he doesnt like her
As for dating at 12---I'd discourage it...don't be naive kids ARE doing more then texting

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I was 12 when I went on my first group "date" to a movie. We had the home phone, but no cell phone or texting back then.

A relationship has to be mutual, so if a guy didn't like me, but liked my girlfriend, I'd be fine with it. The grandma is way out of line....and obviously was the girl that no boy liked. LOL Don't be mad (wasted emotion), but explain to your daughter that the grandmother is crazy.

Don't discourage or encourage...that's a friend's job. Be the parent and tell her with dating comes responsibilities. Set and write up rules together, have her sign them. Make sure you have an in-depth talk about sex and leading up to it. Don't giver pointers - give her facts. I was unprepared for a boy to stick his hand up my shirt, so I was shocked and didn't react. I didn't necessarily think it was sexual. Now, I know better. My mom told me about intercourse like it was a Lifetime movie. I needed to know what could happen and assert myself when it did. Give her tools.

No one ever thinks it will be their child, but when I was in 8th grade, a 7th grader was pregnant. I hadn't even kissed a boy.

On a side note: reputations are just that - and not necessarily the truth. In HS, I went out with a guy, my neighbor, and he told all of his football friends that I had sex with him. I didn't. I broke up with him, but instead of defending myself, I knew the truth and that's all that mattered. I could care less what other's think. Boys are stupid.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

I have a few mixed feelings about this. Yes, 12 is a bit young and her focus should be on herself and not boys. Reality says she is going to do it anyway, so why not be open to it.

It is the end of the school year, will they really see each other over the summer? If not, they could be on two complete different planets by next school year. I would try suggesting she let him know it is not that she doesn't like him, but maybe the timing isn't right. She sounds like she has mixed feelings about this and maybe she should wait.

As for Grandma's comment, well there may be a little bit of truth to that, but you have to teach your daughter to realize people will talk, but never give them something to talk about. So if such a comment would bother her, she may give this whole thing some thought.

Back to the focus on her...summer fun.



answers from San Francisco on

I think she's too young to be "dating" and I would tell her that.

I would not be mad about what grandma told her - I think what she told her is true. She may be only 12, but that is definitely old enough to have a reputation.

I would be encouraging her to say no because 1) she's too young; and 2) her friend also likes this boy. She should not learn to give up a girlfriend for a boy. She should be taught to treasure her girlfriends and that dating a guy is not worth losing your best friend.

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