I knew this would happen one day but I didn’t think it would happen this soon.
I don’t know what happens in 7th grade, but apparently that is when hormones start to rage. Let me preface this by assuring you that when it comes to dating, my son is not allowed to have a girlfriend. But according to him, he’s dated 3 girls this year. In his defense, he didn’t know there was a strict no girlfriend policy because we never discussed it. I mean, when is the perfect time to discuss the rules around relationships? And even more terrifying, when is the perfect age to discuss the birds and the bees? Of course, by this age we have already discussed the anatomy of boys and girls, what’s appropriate and what is inappropriate, stranger danger, and how private your private parts are. But the actual SEX talk is TBD. I am not even touching that subject in this post but it appears the time is quickly approaching to have that talk. And yes, I will share all the deets with MommiNation about the success or failure of that conversation. But regardless of if he knew the dating policy or not, why was his first girlfriend G14 top classified information?
You have a what?!
I found out he was dating the first girlfriend from my best friend. I must admit, my feelings were extremely hurt that he was so open and vulnerable with his GodMommi but never mentioned that he entered the “liking girls” stage to me. But of course, since her loyalty is to me, she spilled all the tea. By this time, he had a 2-month relationship with a girl from school, who also cheered for his football team. Now what kind of mother am I? How could I see this girl every Saturday and not know she was dating my son? Even worse, how could I see my son everyday and not know he had a “girlfriend”?
Like I said, dating is off limits because he has his entire life to explore relationships but only a short window to be a kid. I am a strong advocate for letting kids be kids! Having a girlfriend comes with a responsibility that he is not mature enough or prepared to experience. To whom much is given, much is required. He was given a bedroom that he barely keeps clean, how is he going to clean up the mess a girlfriend can make? Love and relationships also come with heartbreak, expectations, and intimacy. None of which he is remotely prepared for. The no girlfriend rule was never explicitly discussed because I thought it was too early. I didn’t even know he was in the “dating” stage in life. I thought the only things that mattered to him were sports, playing outside, YouTube, and Fortnite.
Now, I am in an internal battle with myself. On one hand I’m thinking about all the things I did behind my parents back because I wanted them to see me as their sweet, innocent baby girl. As an adult, my Mommi is my best friend. If only I would have had this bond as a child, I would have avoided a lot of mistakes and heartbreak with her advice. Knowing this, I’ve always wanted an honest and open relationship with my child. A relationship where he feels comfortable talking to me about any and everything because I am his friend. I want to be the voice of comfort and not criticism. On the other hand, I also want to set boundaries, make sure he’s not growing up too fast, keep him safe and shield him from the horrible decisions I made. I want to be his parent.
Do I have to choose between being a parent or a friend? Why can’t I be both?
To solve my internal battle, I decided not to choose. And like anyone else would do, I avoided the situation altogether. I told myself that this too shall pass, she will only hold his attention for a short time and then we’re back to YouTube and Fortnite. Dating is just the “it” thing right now. A few of his friends probably have girlfriends and he wants to be in the in-crowd. And I was right! It didn’t last long. That 2-month relationship ended about 2 days later. I’m in the clear!
And then he started dating girlfriend # 2
Me: So Moo, are you still dating girlfriend #1?
Moo: No not anymore, I need to focus on school.
Me: ***PROUDEST MOTHER EVER!!*** So is there another girl you like?
Moo: silence *he didn’t want to tell me but also didn’t want to lie*
Me: MOO! Is there another girl?, you can tell me, I’m the cool Mom
Moo: No you’re not, you acted all weird last time
Me: I promise I won’t act weird
Moo: Yes, there’s a new girl
Ok so this is not just a phase
But this time, instead of avoidance, I tried the cool mom approach. Everyday on the way home from school, I asked about the girlfriend, what they talked about in school, what they talked about via text the night before (even though I already knew because all the texts are forwarded to me), and I was quite obsessive about it. The “relationship” was very innocent but there was still a no girlfriend policy that apparently only I knew about.
Just a few weeks of portraying this cool mom role and that girlfriend was also out of the picture. Another one bites the dust. But I knew it wouldn’t be long before girlfriend number 3, 4, 16, and 17 were right around the corner. But it is entirely too early for a girlfriend! What does that even mean at 12. I know what my boyfriend at 21 was like, but what is that like at 12?
*Googles* average age for first relationship AND what does a 12 year old do with a girlfriend?
What I found was alarming!! Just take a look for yourself.
Naturally, my next google search was: how to talk to your 12-year-old about dating when having a girlfriend is against the rules but you want to avoid them sneaking behind your back and having one anyway?
After tweaking my search a few times, I learned that 1, I cannot avoid this conversation unless I want my son asking the internet the same question found in my google search. And 2, if I wanted my son to be open and honest with me, I had to do the same. All I needed to do was talk to him and explain the why behind the no dating rule.
By this time, relationship #3 was in full effect. I thought long and hard about how I wanted to approach this situation. On a normal ride to school I asked
Me: So this girlfriend, what do you two do together?
Moo: I don’t know, we’re just good friends
Me: What makes her special to you? Like, what do you do with her that makes you label your relationship with her as something greater than any other girl in class?
Moo: ummm… I talk to her more than any other girl in school. We sit by each other in every class and text a lot.
Me: hmmm, so what do you talk about?
Moo: I don’t know… like what happened in school, what we did on the weekend, and different things we like.
Me: ok, so it sounds like she’s just your friend that happens to be a girl. Having a girlfriend comes with a responsibility that I don’t think you are ready for right now. It comes with much more than talking on the phone and sitting by each other. It’s important that you focus on your responsibilities at home, school, and in sports and that nothing distracts you from that. I am sure you will be an amazing boyfriend one day but, you still have a few years to go. It is great to have friends right now and I think she should continue to be your friend but no official girlfriends until high school.
Me: I really want you to feel comfortable talking to me about everything. When the time is right for you to have a girlfriend, you are going to have so many questions. I have been through this many times, which means I have a lot of the answers. Plus, I am a girl, so I have all the secrets on how to impress her and how to pick the good ones. I want you to feel comfortable coming to Durrell and I about anything because our number one job is to protect you.
Me: So let’s make a deal. I promise to allow you to do any and everything that I feel is safe and you are prepared for. If it is not safe, I will explain why. If you are not prepared, I will start to give you the tools you need to become prepared. Once your actions show that you are responsible, I will fully trust you and let you make your own decisions but will always be here to give my advice when you need it. In return, you have to be completely open and honest with us, and trust that all of our decisions are in your best interest. Deal?
There is more to this
This is about more than two innocent children dating, this is about creating a safe place for your child to talk to you about anything. Children do not understand the dangers of the world that us mommies work endlessly to shield them from. They also think they know best. They do not understand that our “no” means I want to protect you. That’s why we have to tell them. We can’t continue to answer their “whys?” with “because I said so”. This is a different world we are raising our children in. A world where little girls die in school fights, little boys are being assaulted for picking up cell phones, and children are being sold in human trafficking rings. We have to do more talking with our children. We have to make sure they are comfortable talking to us about everything!
It is so important that we are constantly doing a balancing act of being both a caring parent and a loyal friend. Before you say no, or you’re not allowed, or you can’t… start with why.
So tell me Mommies, how do you keep the lines of communication open with your children? How old were your children when they had their first relationship? Do you think my no girlfriends until high school rule is too strict? Oh, and the question I really need your help with, how should I approach the sex talk?
Until next time,
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And check out my latest blog Women Can’t Raise Men