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2 Rules for Tween Dating

by Ronald A. Rowe | January 2nd, 2014 | Social, Tweens

boy girl cafAs we’ve discussed so often on this site, the Tween years bring a whole slew of new parenting challenges. From the increased school work to social pressure to safety issues, there is never a dull moment when you’ve got an 11-13-year-old in your household. But there is one big worry, the one that keeps both mom and dad up at night, that we have yet to discuss: Dating.

Children develop, both physically and emotionally, at very different rates. While one 12-year-old might be chomping at the bit to get out there and play the field, another might show little to no interest in the opposite sex. Both are within the range of reason. It all depends on the individual.

But eager to date or not, Tweens are almost universally ill-prepared to do so. From a lack of understanding to the utter awkwardness that is part and particle of being a Tween, children aged 11-13 just aren’t ready to wade into the waters of dating. Not even the ones with older brothers who think they know everything there is to know about the birds and the bees.

So, if kids aren’t ready to date yet, the best thing we can do as parents is wrap them in burkas and hide them away from the opposite sex until they are 30, right? Nope. That won’t work, either. Kids need gradual exposure to the teen life that they are so soon destined for whether we like it or not. Here are a few ideas to help you cope with the social/dating aspects of raising a Tween.

#1 Embrace Group Activities
The best, tried and true method of carefully introducing your Tween to sanctioned, supervised cross-gender interaction is the group activity. Boy + girl is generally a bad idea for the Tween set but Boys + Girls can be a good way to integrate your Tween and allow them to develop naturally. Of course, choosing — or helping your child to choose — the proper subset of boys and girls from their peers is of paramount importance in creating the proper setting. Lumping your child in with a group of Tweens who are not on the same page can make matters worse instead of better.

#2 Talk, Talk, Talk
Your Tween may tell you she doesn’t want to talk to you about boys. In fact, she will almost definitely tell you she doesn’t want to talk to you about boys. But offer anyway. And offer again. And again. Be available, not pushy. If your Tween knows that you are available, she will eventually come to you. Eventually. It may test your patience and push you beyond your comfort zone but it will happen. At some point in the journey nearly all Tweens realize that their parents do know something. All you can do in advance is make sure that he knows that you are receptive and willing to help — without interfering or judging. It isn’t easy to pull off but it can work wonders in your relationship with your child and in his/her social development.

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