Parents of preteens can be very naïve these days. I remember the days of my youth when I would lie to my parents about who I was talking to on the phone . . . and now as a mother myself, I think about how I have caught my own teenager lying about who she was talking to. As a result of my experiences as a teen and what I got away with, our family has some very specific rules in place.
One of these rules includes no preteen dating.
Recently, I received a phone call from the parent of my 12-year-old daughter’s male classmate asking if she could go to the movies with them. The parent said she would be watching them the whole time.
I said no and couldn’t help but to feel upset.
Here is the thing. If her son was ready to be socializing with people that he was interested in (male or female), he should have called me (the parent) and asked himself.
And I still would have said NO.
I said no because I knew they were not just friends. I came across an email from the two 12-year-olds conversing and saw the words “I love you.” At 12 years old. While I understand kids are attracted to people and may feel certain things – right or wrong – we don’t allow these interactions to occur at home. My children are 13, 11, and 10 years old, far too young to be going steady, and their time outside of school is reserved as family time.
I said no because 12 is too young for “love” interests.
I said no because in middle school kids need to be concerned with their grades, extra curricular activities, parents, and friends.
I said no because I remember being a teenager and am aware how vulnerable they can be.
I said no because I was that vulnerable, trusting teenager who became pregnant and had a child at 16.
So if you wonder why I may be more strict on rules than others, or you think I’m a helicopter mom when I shouldn’t be, there is a reason why. I look back and see the mistakes – the cracks I fell through – to make a decision I was not old enough to make . . . and I don’t want that for my kids.
So next time your preteen comes to you asking to go on a date, even with a chaperone, think long and hard about the effects of adding that element to their lives and what you as a parent can do to prepare them for “romantic” relationships. It’s more than just a night out at the movies. Or dinner. Or a trip to Frankie’s Fun Park. It’s feelings, advances, curiosity, and the desire to do much more.
And for our family, it’s not a part of life we are willing to embrace at such a young age.