Parent Freak-out Moment #1

* Sweet Something = 5th grade daughter, * Nameless = 5th grade boy

Sweet Something (SS) bounds into the house home from school proudly stating, “Nameless told me I am the smartest and most beautiful girl he has ever dated!”

Mom:  (Thinks) Holy &$%@!  What do I say?  What do I do?  The floor looks real nice to lie on right now. 

Mom:  (Speaks) “Oh, wow.  That’s quite a compliment.  How does it make you feel?”

SS:  “It’s nice.  We sat next to each other in assembly.”

Mom:  “I see.  How many girls has he dated?”

SS:  “Lots, I mean, way back in 3rd and 4th grade, but now we’re going out because he told my friend he likes me an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10.”

Mom:  “Okay, so what do you actually do when you’re going out and you are almost 11?  Hold hands?

SS:  “Eww, no.  We sit together sometimes at lunch and sometimes me and my friend pick up the soccer balls for him at recess if they go over the fence.”


I have read enough single parenting blogs to know there is a wide range of opinion on how to approach this sort of thing, but most seem to be broken into 3 categories:

1)  Sit the child down and talk to them about all the details of sex and the possible consequences, including birth control, STDs, etc.  Basically scare the bejeezus out of them.

2)  Don’t ever allow a child under 16 to have a boyfriend.  It’s just not right.

3)  Talk to your child about the basics of relationships, asking them what qualities they like in a person, include information about the basics of sexual relationship, make sure they know they can ask you anything and talk to you about anything.

My intuition tells me #3 is about right for me.  But that’s all I’m going on here is intuition.  My own life experience has been so less than ordinary (dare I say extraordinary?), that it feels like uncharted territory.  Well, everything past 5th grade, actually.  I do remember in 5th grade having a love of my life for a year who brought me candies each day on his walk to school and stood up for me amid teasing from his friends for liking me, and we did make elaborate plans to elope as soon as we were of legal age. . . though we never held hands or kissed.  And then middle school hit, and he wouldn’t look at me, instead going out with the girl who matured the fastest and had the largest chest.  Which is extremely ironic, if he could see me now.  Incredibly, this boy in my New Mexico childhood turned into a man who is currently an anchor for a Northwest news station.

Anyway, point is, I understand this kind of 5th grade love, but anything after 5th grade I’m lost.  I made it through 4 years of high school, 4 years of a ‘let’s relive the 60s’ college, countless outdoors group treks, overseas travel, and 4 years in the work world, before I had my first kiss, first real date, and relationship.

I don’t recommend this path to anyone, especially my own child, unless of course your happiness in life is found by marrying God and becoming a nun.  I think relationships have their own learning curve and self-esteem is key.  If you are so delayed due to a sense of self that is as small as a speck of dust, then you will be invisible to others and have problems in adult relationships.  Neither do I wish teen pregnancy on anyone.

So, intuition is what I’m going by here, and I think that’s all a parent can do.  I wish for my daughter self-esteem and an ability to listen to her own intuition about what she wants in her life and the qualities she likes in others.

About Erin W

A sensitive plant, bamboo strong.
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1 Response to Parent Freak-out Moment #1

  1. Sharon Rose says:

    Oh Erin! I know well what this freak-out feels like as the mother of 15- and 12-year-old girls, and I can assure you whole heartedly that the whole experience of 5th graders “going out” is most definitely not about sex! These are children who are imitating media images and experiences, but the vast majority are absolutely still children developmentally — even girls with early onset puberty. How do I know? I’ve been there! I recommend that you ask your daughter a lot of questions and provide lots of age-appropriate feedback, but I seriously doubt that you need to worry that your daughter and “Nameless” are interested in having a sexual experience. They are interested in experiencing an elementary school crush and role playing, as in playing house (hence retrieving the soccer balls). I can assure you that they are not wanting to play nookie! I also recommend talking with Nameless’s mother. My older daughter jumped right into “boyfriend land” during middle school and the first thing I did was call the parents and we mapped out a plan for parenting our “dating” children. As a high schooler now, this daughter who has been kissed a few times now, is confident, future-focused and has declared a temporary moratorium on all boyfriends. She has way more fun going to clothing swaps, sleepover parties and dances with a group of girlfriends where she can relax and be free to have fun than to deal with the pressures of 1:1 with boys. My younger daughter, who has watched with wide eyes every single move her older sister makes, was “asked out” a few times in 5th grade and she said, confidently (with coaching from her wiser/”been there” older sister), “I really love hanging out with you but I feel more comfortable just being good friends! My mom and my sister think that we’re too young to be dating and I think we should wait until middle school.” Relax, mama. She’s fine. 🙂

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