My Pre-Teen Daughter Wants to Have a Boyfriend!
In a televised interview in the OWN Network, Kim Kardashian confessed to Oprah Winfrey that she lost her virginity when she was 14 and her mother facilitated the contraceptives before her first sexual encounter. I am sure her confession caused a reaction in all the points of the spectrum. Some, like me may have been surprised that her mother didn’t advise her to wait a little longer or to abstain all together; and others, may think that as long as the sexual encounter was voluntary, it’s better to be prepared.
Kim Kardashian was 14 when she had her first “official” boyfriend but it is glamorized stories like hers that encourage our girls to enter into emotional relationships earlier and earlier in their lives. However, what the media is sensationalizing and what the experts in the social sciences are discovering don’t seem to go hand in hand.
As a parent of a pre-adolescent you should keep in mind that the experts don’t sanction pre-adolescent relationships. Here are some of the reasons:
- They (pre-adolescent relationships) affect the mood of the pre-adolescent robbing them of their happiness
- They create conflict in and around the relationship of the pre-adolescent girl
- They decrease the time the pre-adolescent spends with her friends and family
- They increase the possibility of the pre-adolescent girl to engage in risky behavior like consuming alcoholic beverages
- They increase academic problems of the pre-adolescent girl (or boy for that matter)
The negative effects of an early relationship seem to follow a girl for a lifetime as shown in the life of the famous personality of Oprah’s interview who has lived through many failed relationships and at only 35 years of age is already into her third marriage.
Having said that, it is important to point out that pre-adolescent children need to learn how to relate to the opposite sex. But that doesn’t mean they are emotionally ready to have a boyfriend or that they are able to make decisions without being influenced negatively by other kids who do not share their values. This tension is what makes it crucial for a parent to step in and prepare them for what’s coming. A parent should take this period of their pre-adolescent stage and prepare the heart and mind of their daughter for a future healthy relationship. The National Council on Family Relations published the results of a study in May 2001 that suggest that parents’ strategy to prepare their children before adolescence have an effect in their sexual and social behavior once they become adolescents. Parents that directly monitor their children without coercive control but supervising their activities and supporting them emotionally without allowing themselves to be manipulated are the most effective.
So when a pre-adolescent girl wants to date (and even if she doesn’t express interest in dating), parents, instead of ignoring them or denying them without explanation, should take control and guide their children through the complicated maze of relationships “do’s” and “don’ts”. They can do that by answering their questions, determining and talking together about the age she is allowed to have a boyfriend, talking about what the rules will be once the time comes, discussing her friend’s relationships, etc. (For example, you can ask: why do your friends have boyfriends? What do your friends do when they go out? What would you like to do when it’s your turn to have boyfriend? How can you tell if a guy is abusive?).
Once your daughter is mature enough to have a boyfriend:
- Insist that she would focus in developing a friendship, not romance.
- Encourage and facilitate group dates with various friends to wholesome places that everyone can enjoy.
- Make your home the preferred hang out spot for friends.
If you teach and prepare your daughter even before her adolescence about relationships, she will be more likely to have a healthy relationship once the time for boyfriends and dating comes knocking at the door.