So the other day, I am driving home from picking my 9 year old daughter up from school. There we are riding in the car when the dreaded topic arises. Boys.
Not just any boy either, oh no.
“Mommy, there is this boy at school I kind of like. Well, more than kind of. His name is J and I really like him, but there is a problem. He is dating O.”
Yep, in 30 seconds, my precious little girl wrecked my world. Or so I thought.
I have spent many a nights wondering how I would handle this exact moment. That moment when my precious third grader came home to tell me that someone had awakened the butterflies in her heart. Yes, I know that this is a silly grade school crush, but it is her first, and that is a big thing right?
In the past, I have shut down similar conversation, telling my daughter that school was for learning, not boys. This time was different though, this boy was her first real crush. Thus, I found myself taking a the conversation in a very different direction.
Believe it or not, I found myself asking questions and encouraging feelings, and guess what I found out? While I was sweating bullets the entire time, no one was injured as the result of me allowing the conversation to continue. My 3rd grader is not pregnant, and I have no additional grey hairs.
Funny how that worked.
So why did I decide to encourage my daughter to talk boys at 9 years old? A few reasons actually.
Validating her Feelings and Learning Today’s Definitions
All to often now a days, I feel that young girls are being shut down when the topic of boys comes up. The excuse I hear most often? They are “too young.”
Honestly, I feel like this is a bunch of crap.
While I feel like my daughter should be waiting several years before she starts thinking about boys, lets be real. Society has made it the norm for kids to start thinking about boyfriends/girlfriends much earlier now a days. Heck, I remember still believing that boys had cooties well into fourth grade. Yet, I frequently hear preschool parents talking about their boys having “girlfriends”.
In a world where all of this is brought on so soon, would it not be normal then for my little girl to start talking about feelings with other girls, and thus come to the conclusion that she “likes” a boy?
Upon opening up the conversation, I learned from my kiddo that she like’s J for his style, (He wears green a lot, which is her new favorite color since he wears it.) and because he is funny and makes her laugh. I also learned that to like and date someone, means to hang out at school and eat dinner at his house with his mom and dad. Sounds pretty innocent right?
That being said, I wanted her to know that I supported her feelings, and I wanted her to talk through them with me. Unfortunately, I know that if I was to shut down the conversation that she will then seek validation from someone else, most likely her friends. Then, only God knows what she will walk away from that conversation thinking happens when you “date” someone.
Scary stuff, eh?
Building her Confidence
Pre-teen/Teenage years are hard. Stupid hard.
School, friends, hormones, “the change”, all of these things are starting to fall into place. Now, lets throw in boys and see how you fare. Yea, this is what our little girls are going through.
Now, knowing that my baby is either going through or on the verge of going through these things, I have one goal. To build her up and make her feel confident in her ability to make decisions so that she does not have to doubt herself on top of all of this.
If I have to do this through answering boy questions, so be it. You see, when my little girl and I started talking about boys, you know what happened? She became excited that I was interested. She became even more excited that she had the words to express what she was feeling. Who am I to shut her down when she is so confident in her choice of her first crush?
Honestly, she is not out making dangerous choices, and watching her have faith in herself makes my heart full.
Crazy the things this one boy has lead to.
Opening that Door
While nine was not necessarily the age that I wanted the “boy door” open, I had decided previously that I did want it open as soon as she was ready.
Seriously parents, look around. Our children’s world has been sexualized since they were very young. If you have not seen it, then I challenge you. Walk into a pre-teen store and just take it all in. Crop tops are now the “in thing” for your 7 year old daughter.
How does that make you feel?
Do not get me wrong. I am not one of those mom’s who is handing her child condoms and explaining the birds and the bees at the first mention of boys. I am however, that mom who is engaged. Who is asking open ended questions and letting her fill in the blanks. I want to know how her brain is processing this stage of life. I also want to make sure she knows I am a safe space for her to ask questions without judgement.
Fingers crossed, she will continue to feel comfortable bringing things to be as she gets older, because you and I both know we do not want our babies navigating these waters alone.
While my preteen and I have had our disagreements, I am so very proud of the girl she is becoming. As she is growing, I am realizing that more freedom is expected with each birthday.
This. Is. Hard.
Alas, it has to be done. And as it is being done, trust has to be being built on both sides of this equation. I want my daughter to have all of the information she needs to possess in order to make good, informed decisions.
At the same time, I want her to know that I trust her to make these decision’s, and to come to me when she needs help. Her coming to me when she needs help however, means that she has to trust me. If I am not engaging in these conversations now with a genuine interest, how is she going to trust me with these things?
Yeah, this parenting girls thing is rough.
While I know that my daughter and I are going to have many, many more boy conversations in the future, I will be meeting all of them head on. The last thing I want is my daughter to think is that she cannot come to me.
Have you and your daughter started talking about boys yet? How do you plan to address them, or did you take a different direction? Let me know in the comments below!