St. Valentine's Day, tweens and parents: Navigating uncharted romantic territory

St. Valentine's Day, tweens and parents: Navigating uncharted romantic territory

As Valentine’s Day nears, parents struggle with how they will let their tween observe the holiday when it comes to romantic relationships. This is uncharted territory for tweens and parents.

Is your tween asking to date? Thinking of giving flowers? Wanting to profess his/her undying love for a fellow classmate?Doing everything possible to avoid every member of the opposite gender?

These are tough issues. The answers when it comes to what is acceptable on Feb. 14, or any other day of the year, vary by tween and by family. While those answers may change, I’m always a big fan of setting boundaries and clearly communicating them to your tween. You are their parent, not their dating facilitator.

Going to a junior high dance with a group may be fine with you, but it’s okay to say that a date is not acceptable. Perhaps dating is fine with you. I know one mom who’s 10 year-old daughter went to a movie with a boy who says he “likes” her.  That worked for her, but I’m not sure I’d permit it. Be prepared to discuss that different families have different rules, for dating and for everything else from food to video games. Your house, your rules.

Before Cupid gets too upset with me, though, I also think parents cannot forbid their child’s feelings. Hormones are raging, and parents cannot stop chemistry, no matter how much we would like to do so. What we can and should do, however, is seize the opportunity to talk to them about those feelings.

Find out what works for your tween when it comes to St. Valentine’s Day. What is he/she comfortable with in terms of this holiday that can be tricky at any age?  They may be asking you looking for help setting boundaries with others. Sometimes we think a tween can handle a situation when in actuality, he/she has no clue.

Romantic interactions are strange, new, exciting, and also scary to tweens.

They might need your help in figuring out how to say no, or I’m not ready for this. Or you may need to help them get control over some really intense feelings. And boy, can tweens be good at intense feelings.

You may also want to take this opportunity to explain that while you’re not forbidding particular feelings, there are appropriate times and places for discussing them. Remind them that school is for learning, not for chatting about crushes, and let them know what kind of Valentine activities you believe are appropriate during the school day. For example, student council chocolate at lunch may be fine, but gift exchanges and excessive displays can interfere with learning.

I’m not crazy. I know that tween are not always eager to discuss a crush with mom or dad. They may roll their eyes, or say nothing. But they know that you are someone they can talk to, even if they choose not to do so now. They may not be in a circumstance that makes them uncomfortable now, but you want  your tween to know that they can come to you should such a situation arise.

You may also like: Sweet treats: Easy, cheap Valentine gift ideas features my advice on this topic in the article Valentine’s Day: Should you intervene with your tween?

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Filed under: Home Life, Parenting

Tags: hormones, tween, valentine

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