I'm facing something that I thought wouldn't happen for a few more years. My 12yod met a boy and says she is "going with him".

My knee jerk reaction is "NO! You are too young to be thinking about boys! No dating! No going steady! No, No!"

So I thought I would come here to get ideas on saying "Yes" in healthy and safe ways to this new stage in my child's life.

She met him a couple of weeks ago at a concert at a local park, where he was working at his friend's dad's concession stand. I was at the concert, but didn't meet him. They exchanged phone numbers and have been talking on the phone a lot. He is one year older.

She asked about doing something with him and I said I'd like to meet him first. So we went down to the hot dog stand where he is helping out and just hung around chatting between customers. I met both of his friend's parents and got a general OK first impression of the boy and the friend's parents.

Henry asked her to meet him and another "couple" (his friend and another girl) at the mall. It was a day that dh and I already had plans, so I told her that I wasn't comfortable having her at the mall with people we barely knew when her dad and I would not be available, but that I would be happy to arrange another day soon when I was available to take her there.

So, we did go to the mall yesterday and she brought along a friend. They met Henry and his brother (age 14), saw a movie, had a snack, and shopped a bit. I visited with the 4 of them at the beginning and end of their visiting and also stayed at the mall the entire time (she knew I was there, of course - I'd also brought my other dd and her friend along to do some shopping.)

I seem to be the first parent in my local peer group whose child is showing this interest. Her friend, Bailey, explained how she isn't allowed to date until 16. When she is 13, she will get a ring that signifies her promise with her parents to not date. At 16, she will get another ring that means she agrees to date responsibly. Bailey is a kid whose parents love to make rules and the poor kid is always getting in trouble for something or another. The family next door has restrictions on dating too, yet happily married their daughter off at age 19. And, their dd who is the same age as Lisa has already had a "boyfriend" even though she isn't supposed to be dating yet.

I am glad that Lisa is being very open with me about this. I know I could make up all sorts of arbitrary rules about how she may interact with boys, but I don't believe that arbitrary rules work. I want to help her make good decisions as she begins to venture out into the world and associate with people and boys who are not part of my circle. My own experience growing up was different because I had two older brothers which led to many mixed-sex group activities where I had a safety net of my older brothers present. My dd is the eldest.

Mary Ellen

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In a message dated 7/12/05 5:31:12 PM, nellebelle@... writes:

> "NO!  You are too young to be thinking about boys! 

But you can't really be dictating what people think.

What a parent can do is create a situation in which kids are sneaky.

This is about terminology, not sneakiness:
When I was in high school I said that my boyfriend and I had made out, and my
mom reacted irrationally (I thought) and said WHAT!? And started muttering
and frothing, and I said What? And, well, it turned out that in her dating
days, in the 40's, "to make out" meant what we called "go all the way." I
hadn't gone all the way, I had just (in her parlance) necked. But we
didn't call it necking, we called it making out.

Now with Holly, she got on X-Box Live in April, and told me boys were asking
her to go out.

Like boys in Albuquerque? No, boys in England, Arkansas, Texas and I forget
where else. And she was going out with one, she said.

I said I thought maybe that group was unclear about the meaning of "go" and
also of "out," but she laughed at me for being old and clueless, as "to go out"
seems now to mean "to have agreed to be a couple for the purpose at hand."
It's a commitment to play X-Box live together, and to be attached socially in
that world. But in person too, their "go out" is our "going steady."

So, I asked a group of all the teens who were here, what is (for them) what
we called "going out"?

They looked at each other and shrugged. It seems they call it going to a
movie, or going to eat. But if you do that with someone with whom you're not
"going out," it's called "hanging out." So though Brett was "going out
with" Crystal, he would often "hang out with" Sadie. It wasn't a date. It was
just going bowling or to a movie, usually with Marty or Jeremy or someone

So for starters, I recommend not being alarmed about the terminology.

-=-My own experience growing up was different because I had two older
brothers which led to many mixed-sex group activities where I had a safety net of my
older brothers present. -=-

Holly's in that situation too.

Mall visits have been good with this group we know. There haven't been any
problems reported. As long as she's being honest with you that's good, and
if you can advise her about particular mall dangers (shoplifting, in case one
of the kids in the group isn't as honest as the rest; discourtesy, meanness;
littering; leaving the mall; whatever you can think of) and maybe discuss with
her what she might say if she's uncomfortable with wha the the other kids want
to do, that might make her feel more confident too.


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