Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Please Stop Telling Me About Your Daughter's Relationship, Aiden's Still Single and It's Just So Painful

*****Just for fun, it might be nice to play Beyonce's Single Ladies while reading this.******

*****Or it might be weird and difficult to concentrate.  Your call.****

This might come as a shock to some of you, but Aiden does not have a girlfriend.  He's currently single.  We aren't sure what to make of it.  We're afraid he might not ever find his true soul mate if he doesn't start working it a little more on the playground.  What kind of a player can he possibly be down the road if he isn't sweet talking at least two or three girls now?

I mean he's cute. What's the problem?

Are you thinking I should implement a Match.com sort of strategy to remedy this?  Should I let him watch Hitch? or Boyz N The Hood? 

(Not that Boyz N The Hood was really about match making, but it's just such a classic.)

Should I splash some Drakar cologne on his backpack and Star Wars shirts as he heads for the bus?  That worked for all the boys I had a crush on back in junior high.  I wonder what reeled me in in kindergarten? 

Oh yeah...I didn't care at all about boys then.

All too often recently I hear other moms talking about their daughter's boyfriends.  Even bragging and encouraging their daughters to chat it up about their "relationships."  Occasionally it's a boy's mom chatting about her son's girlfriend, but often it's the other way around and I'm baffled by the whole thing.  Why is anyone with a child in kindergarten, or younger, talking about a boyfriend-girlfriend type of relationship of their child's?

I used to have a reasonably clear idea of what the term boyfriend meant, but apparently that is no longer the case.  Are these kindergartners holding hands and having deep conversations about their future?   Are they passing notes and scribbling on Trapper Keepers with hearts?  Are they meeting outside school to make out?  
(Not that I EVER did that with a boyfriend.)
I assume they are not.  I assume most of them aren’t even able to write the word boyfriend without assistance, much less embrace the idea of it all.

I encourage all my children to play with the kids they enjoy being around, regardless of gender, unless they are annoying, of course. I feel that turning their genuine enjoyment of another child’s company in to something as adult as a boyfriend-girlfriend status robs them of these innocent years to simply enjoy one another, pick their nose in public, and have complete disregard for the embarrassing things their parents can do around them.  It's a good time.  
It seems challenging enough to navigate the ins and outs of friendship with another person without the added stress of placing labels and terms to the relationship that my six year old should not, and does not, understand.  
My kindergartner often mentions that one of his friends has a lot of girlfriends, and he thankfully says this as a fact, rather than a way in which to bemoan his own single status. 
(That little boy is not as cute as Aiden anyway, so I've reassured Aiden that he'd be able to easily steal any of them away if he could only figure out why that kid has them.)
(That's a lie people.  Remember, when in doubt, assume it's a joke.)
He is being told the whole thing matters though and that bothers me. It doesn’t matter; someday it will feel like it does, but not now.  Please not now. Now is the time to be free of the pressures of crushing on, rejecting and being rejected by the opposite sex.

I find the idea of discussing a boyfriend with my daughter particularly dangerous.  She is already aggressively targeted with ideas of finding her prince charming.   Even gentle encouragement from me to discuss the existence of a boyfriend would feel as though I am telling her that her having a boyfriend, or not, matters.  I don’t ever want to send that message.
The other night, I heard Tori Spelling talking to her three year old daughter, unfortunately also named Stella, about her boyfriend. 

(To be clear I was watching her on TV, we are not actually close and personal friends.  She has a pig and a goat living in her house and it would be tough for me to go over there and hang.  Though I love her decor and she throws super fun parties.) 

(Also to be clear, I don't usually watch that show, but Alex works really late and sometimes my TV choices get low-class and well, annoying.)

Tori was giggling and little Stella was very serious in her proclamation of boyfriend having.  There was even a discussion of a kiss.  What the hell?  Later in the show, Stella was shown jumping in a bounce house with her love interest and Tori was immensely amused.

I was sort of disturbed.
I get the idea that it could be sweet that your child has developed a strong liking, even a genuine friendship love, for another kid.  I fully grasp the potential adorable factor of your cute girl loving on an equally cute and well dressed little boy,like a Gap Kids ad come to life.  I feel like it's wrong though to start making them feel like it matters in the terms of boyfriend or girlfriend.  Don't we have plenty of time to put forth energy, emotions, and tears to that in years 10-20? or on in to 30?

Cole has an adorable friend in his preschool class that hugs him, very enthusiastically everytime she sees him.  He loves to play with her.  The two of them really enjoy being around one another and talk about the other one a lot when they are apart.  Thank the Lord though, I haven't ever heard this mom refer to Cole as her daughter's boyfriend, and I haven't once referred to her as Cole's girlfriend.  The idea is absurd and to be honest, I think it tarnishes the innocent sweetness of their genuine liking of one another.

Is this just another vein of dressing our daughters more provocatively at an earlier age?  Is it a matter of our young kids watching too mature types of TV programs?  Can we blame all this on Wizards of Waverly Place and ICarly?  Is it older siblings trickling down their fascinations with the opposite sex?

Is it the gluten and dairy? I feel those two are to blame for a lot already, we could just lump it in.

Red dye?

The big question though....am I the only one that hates it?  Does it really matter?  Or am I just easily annoyed and cranky and overly exposed to alone time with my children all freakin' day long? 

Wait...don't answer that question. 

Answer this....

What do you think?  Do you think it's OK to talk to your very young children about having a boyfriend or girlfriend?


I'm linking up with Shell's weekly meme, Pour Your Heart Out.  Go over to her blog and check it out!


lcarp51 said...

I agree with you. I think Disney is of the devil. Really. They target their movies to 3 year olds. All of them have romance, sexual innuendos, tight dresses, bar fights, and Ariel gets married at 16. Ok. They might not all have bar fights. But Beauty and the Beast does. And maybe Snow White. I can't remember. Anyway. I had to put my foot down. It went well. Really, really well...

Beyond said...

I completely agree with you.it is just not right to use adult terms to define a innocent kid's friendship.TV is not allowed at my household during the week and on weekends an hour max.and for sure no fairy tales.you are doing the very right thing by not labeling your son's friendship.

hyzymom said...

I think it is beyond disturbing! I didn't like facing the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thingy when my daughter was 16. Jeez Louise leave something for the teenage years. Those mothers are crazy!! Toddlers and Tiara's crazy!

Maureen | Tatter Scoops said...

Oh wow! That's crazy and yeah Disney is putting the wrong impressions to our kids. I haven't face this problem with my boy but it is in Indonesian cultures too to start teasing kids about girlfriend and boyfriend thing at early age and boy, will I have a lot to say to them too. Thanks for this post.

Missy | Literal Mom said...

I just commented about this on someone else's post! It drives me up a tree when my 9 year old tries to goad my 4 year old into saying who's a boyfriend and who's not.

All in good fun or not, I don't think it's a good idea to encourage the terminology. There will be YEARS of boyfriend/girlfriend dramas. Why start now?

Missy said...

My 6 years old claims they have a girl friend. To them their girlfriend *the same girl* is their best friend. We've known the family for almost 4 years now and do regular playdates. They might call her their girlfriend but they are meaning a girl who is a friend. Jon might have dreams of marrying her when she's older but for now their talk is of Spiderman and superheros.

Amy Pollak said...

Completely agree with you. Totally disturbing and I don't get it!

Awn said...

I agree that kids aren't allowed to be kids anymore when it comes to just about everything! The advertising really gets under my skin - things like the Bratz dolls...is that who you want your daughter to emulate?

jodi said...

I completely agree. There is plenty of time for all that pressure.

momnextdoor said...

You know, I hadn't thought to find it a problem. But now that you mention it, I agree with you! It does seem like an extension of having little girls wear stilettos and thongs.

Thankfully my kindergartner hasn't come home talking about girlfriends! I think he's too busy playing dinosaurs and picking his nose.

Cheryl said...

I think that's absolutely insane. And honestly think the moms that are proud of that are extremely insecure and desperately want their kids to be cool and accepted. Pushing the idea that they need a man at that age goes far deeper than Disney, I think. It starts with the parents judgment, or lack thereof.

Di said...

My son's day care talks about the 18 month old's being boyfriend and girlfriend. I find that ridiculous and if they even start to mention it about my son I will shut it down quickly. I'm with you - I'm happy for my child to just have friends!

Created In His image said...

It is ridiculous! I have fought this with adults for years, you know when Grandpa says, "Hey, Is that your girlfriend?" to the 3 year old. It just makes them want to grow up too fast. I told my kids they can't have girlfriends or boyfriends until they are 16. That might be a little old, but I will deal with it when they get closer to that age. It is just so sad.

Adrienne said...

I do agree that it robs them of the innocent years when we try to make it more than it is. Why rush!!?? Great post!

angel shrout said...

As a mom of all boys I have heard this all their lives. And all their lives I have told them TIME and patience that they can have many girls that are friends and don't need to be a place where they only have ONE female friend..

angie said...

I always tell my Kg. students they can't date until they have a driver's license.

Kristen said...

I totally agree with you.

Now - I'm going to confess - because I'm all about being honest. I have 3 year old twins. Never ONCE have I referred to someone as Addison's boyfriend. However, when Andrew follows little girls around (and it happens all the time) - I have caught myself laughing when he says it is his "pink" (color or her shirt) girlfriend. How sexist am I? And did I mention that I teach sociology? And know better? And sort of disgust myself by being honest here? **sigh** It would be so much easier if I was a better online liar :)

Great post - Kristen

Melissa said...

Great blog! Love the throw back references. :)

As for the girlfriend/boyfriend calling issues, it is disturbing. More disturbing than having 6 year olds betrothed is the fact that it gets worse as the years go by.
My 5th grader is teased mercilessly because he doesn't have a "girlfriend". When I asked him why is he teased about that, he answered because the girls are all "dating-crazy".
It seems society in general is teaching our girls that being attached to a male figure is the total sum of their worth. Boyfriend=Instant status. It scares me for the next generation of girls and it scares for me the boys who will begin to believe that they elevate a girl's status.
All very disturbing.....

'Chelle said...

I think I must be a prude. My 12 year old-Thing 1 had his first "girlfriend" last year, and I didn't handle it very well. He told me they were going out, and I asked him where they were "going?" I mean, it's not like he can drive. And I sure wasn't going to take him anywhere. My friend called it a "business hours only" relationship. He only saw her at school. And that was fine with me.
But one of my friends has a daughter that is 13, almost 14. And she has a boyfriend. But the thing I don't get is they let her go to his house and he comes to their house. I would NEVER do that. I think 8th grade is way too young to date.
My kids have been told they are not allowed to "date" until they are at least in high school. I said 16. My husband thinks a little younger is okay for the boys, as long as they are at LEAST in high school. But of course Thing 3-the girl, can't date until he's dead. And he was only half joking! :)
I think encouraging it at such a young age is only going to lead to problems later on.
Just my two cents.

Bobbi said...

People are crazy. I almost threw up when my 3yo randomly asked me very specific questions about her genitalia in the tub. I could definitely not handle "boyfriends."

When my cousin was 5, she had a boyfriend and her parents encouraged them to be together and allowed them to have "privacy." I was a teen at the time and still thought it was weird. As a parent, it's downright disturbing.

Shell said...

Mine all have friends who are girls, but we don't go there with "girlfriends" yet. It's not what it is, at all.

Except maybe when my two youngest were fighting over a girl. Lord.