Monday, July 5, 2010

Young Love

Tennyson’s young man may have found his thoughts turning to love in the spring, but summer seems to be when people start thinking romance around here.

It’s simultaneously hilarious and heart-rending to watch those first anxious forays into the land of Coupledom. Sure, most of the kids have “boyfriends” or “girlfriends” starting as early as preschool and a few of the more precocious may even have dabbled in a semi-serious relationship or two before they’re out of middle school. Still, the fever starts in earnest during the mid-teen years.

Both sexes have highly romanticized – not to mention unrealistic – expectations from romance at this age. There’s a lot of pressure these days to pair off, at least where we live; a couple goes from being virtual strangers to dating (what we used to call “going steady”) with virtually no in-between stage. There doesn’t seem to be any getting-to-know-each-other phase; or rather, they date to get to know each other.

If it’s a girl, she’ll be a little shocked (though she’ll never admit it) at how he wants to kiss her ALL. THE. TIME.

If it’s a boy, he’ll be very alarmed (and he’ll admit it freely) at how she wants to talk on the phone ALL. THE. TIME.

Young moms, be warned: If you don’t start the sex talks with your young’un before he’s out of grade school, you’ll have missed the boat. We all knew a couple of girls who took a “couple of months off school” when we were in our early teens – and that was before movies like Juno made it an acceptable mainstream occurrence. It may be a difficult subject for you to discuss when they’re young but – BELIEVE me – it’s a lot more difficult when hormones are riding your teenagers bareback.

Because frankly, Gentle Reader, at that point there’s not much you can do. Oh sure, while your child is a minor you provide 100% supervision 100% of the time; know where/when/why they are and who with; offer lots of family time and invite the Significant Other along on an outing or two. Other than that, your job is to lend a sympathetic ear – and to remember to order flowers for the prom.

It can be difficult to bite your tongue if you don’t approve of their choice – and ooooo, sometimes the “choice” is a real clinker. Trust in your child and in the bond between the two of you; keep the communication lines open, because odds are good your child will need your support sooner rather than later. Bite back the “I told you so” and never bad-mouth the ex – because sometimes they won’t stay “the ex” and then where will you be?

Rejoice. This too is a milestone: your child is becoming an adult who can give and receive love. I would like to see a study, though, on the effects on younger children of seeing older siblings get married two summers in a row; I’m a little worried my high-school junior may be picking out a china pattern.


  1. Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooorry. ;)

  2. I'm all about courting with a chaperone present. Hormones running rampant tend to stupify a teenager's judgement skills. Having an adult in the background helps them to learn more about each other in a safer way.

    Least, that's what I'm praying for. :)

  3. Nyssa: See what you started??

    Brianna: Amen to that; plus, it increases the teasing possibilities tenfold! ;)

  4. John has always been in the guy club about dating - meaning if he had daughters, he'd make sure their courters knew he had guns, and knew how to use 'em. As it was, both of ours dated for the prom and other events, but didn't really get into any serious relationships until they were adults.

    Maybe they thought all girls dads have guns?

  5. Hee! Mollie, your comment reminds me of an "episode" with one of Joy's boyfriends - one of whom we were not terribly fond. He would not take the hint to go HOME one night. Lance got out his knives, whetstone and oil and started sharpening. He kept sharpening bigger and bigger knives whilst looking increasingly grim. By the time he got out his machete, the kid finally got the hint and left - looking rather pale, I thought! :D

  6. And if that didn't work, try the flame thrower! I kinda thought that might come in handy someday . . .


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