Talking to Tweens About Dating
When my daughter was younger, boyfriend talk was off limits. If television shows depicted boy-girl crushes, I turned them off. If books suggested kissing, I returned them to the library. If kids at school teased about “liking” each other, I told my daughter she’s too young to think about that stuff—and she agreed.
But now that she’s a tween and heading into fifth grade, boyfriends are still off limits, yes, but I’m realizing maybe it’s okay to start talking about them.
In fact, maybe it’s vital to start talking about them.
See, my daughter is already hearing about boy-girl stuff now everywhere she goes, and naturally she’s curious about it. Her babysitters have boyfriends. The books she reads mention a girl getting asked to the dance or wondering if a boy thinks she’s pretty. When her teacher got flowers from a gentleman caller last school year, all the girls in the class starting planning the poor woman’s wedding. My daughter knows God created girls to be attracted to boys, and vice versa, and she possesses the same innate desire we all have to be treasured, beautiful, and pursued.
But ultimately, she will not fulfill that desire with a boy.
And that’s why we need to talk now.
I want my daughter to find her greatest purpose and affirmation in God. He loves her most, He knows her best, and her identity is safe in His arms. She doesn’t need to find it in a boy, not today and not ever—and I’m going to rip my heart out making sure she knows that.
But beyond that. Can I toss a caution flag here? What if it’s possible to drill purity into our children’s heads so hard that they start equating the opposite sex with sin? As if being curious about boys (or girls, if you have sons) or beginning to experience a natural attraction or even starting to dream about their someday family life is something to be ashamed of.
It’s not. It’s a good thing. It’s how God made us.
The trick is, of course, He made us to fulfill these desires within certain parameters. So while I will teach my daughter what those are and how to live within them, I also don’t want to make her feel like it’s wrong to be interested.
At this stage, that means no more squashing the conversation.
When the topic of dating comes up in books and TV shows, we no longer shut them down. We talk about it.
When her tween Bible study mentions boyfriends, I no longer freak out. I take it all in stride.
And when she and her friends begin chatting about boys, I pray my daughter won’t feel like she has to hide it from me. Open communication is going to be the key to encouraging a healthy and godly perspective on dating as she grows older.
At only 10 years old, my sweet girl has many years to go before her dad and I will allow her to date. But by talking about it now, I hope to encourage wisdom, discernment, and even a sense of anticipation about what’s to come—free from shame—long before she needs to apply these truths in practice.
It’s scary territory for this protective momma, I admit. But thankfully I’ve also learned, just like I’m teaching my daughter, that my very best love is Jesus. And He’s going to be hearing a lot of prayers from me on this topic in the years ahead.
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