Melynda's daughter is 13, and she wants a boyfriend. Erin's daughter is 11, and she does, too. Both of these concerned Circle of Moms members want to know how they should handle the situation. Is 13 too young to date? What about 11?
In Melynda's case, her daughter's interest in boys is still pretty abstract. But Erin's daughter says there are boys at school who are interested in her.
While many moms of girls in this age range are adamant that they don't want their daughters dating yet, the many Circle of Moms conversations on this topic reveal that parents aren't always clear on what their daughters are referring to when they say they want to date. What does it really mean at this age to have a boyfriend or girlfriend?
Do Tweens Really "Date"?
Many Circle of Moms members say that when tween girls say they are "going together" or "have a boyfriend," what they are actually doing is a far cry from real dating. Barbara, for instance, doesn't really care what her daughter calls the male friends she hangs out with, so long as she can keep a watchful eye on them and make sure they "keep it light." And Kathy agrees that the key is not the language her daughter uses to describe her relationships with boys, but what they actually do when they are alone together.
She believes that the best way to really understand what her daughter is up to is to give her free rein in terms of who she hangs out with and to allow her to describe these relationships in her own terms. Kathy says this communicates to her daughter that she trusts her, and that in exchange, her daughter it more willing to be "visible," when she's with her "boyfriend" and more inviting of her mother's presence in general. "After all," she points out, "they're not even old enough to drive. Can we really say they're dating?"
But what about the tendency that kids naturally have to hide their behavior from their parents, even when they're not doing anything wrong? If your kids are secretive, several Circle of Moms members recommend establishing firm limits on unsupervised time with a "boyfriend."
At What Age is Unsupervised Time Okay?
The age at which moms tend to allow their daughters unsupervised time with a boy ranges from 14 to 17. Deanna, for instance, let her daughter begin to "group-date" at age 14, but won't let her go out with a boy in a twosome until she's 16. But many moms draw an even firmer line; Dee, Joan, and Lynn all say, simply and surely: No.
I have to wonder through, whether this will really stop a tween girl from experimenting. I agree with Deanna that if your daughter is showing an interest in boys, it's probably a sign that you should begin talking to her about what dating means, and stay open to her curiosity and questions. If you don't, you stand a good chance of being left in the dark where your child's activities are concerned.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.