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Tween Dating: An Introduction

by Ronald A. Rowe | February 5th, 2015 | Social, Tweens

boy and girl (400x400)Dating.  It’s a topic most parents hoped to avoid a little longer.  But here you are, with a tween at home and all around her friends are “dating” classmates.  And there’s this boy in math class…

Take a deep breath.  It may not be as bad as you think.  Then again, it may be even worse, but we’ll cross that bridge when we absolutely have to.  For now, let’s take a look at the typical role that dating plays in a 21st century middle school.

There is so much pressure on tweens.  Some is self-imposed.  Some comes from parents and teachers.  Some is competition.  Older siblings play a part.  So do peers.  Whatever the source or sources of the pressure, there is a lot of it.  The social pressure to keep up with her peers and complete the transition from child to teenager is significant.  But the funny thing is that her peers most likely have no more idea what it means to be a teenager than she does.  They’re all trying to work it out on their own, without letting on to the fact that none of them have a clue.

So they emulate older siblings.  They copy what they see from others that appears to be mature.  They resist anything that an “old person” (that’s you) tell them on the assumption that it is either hopelessly archaic or a deliberate attempt to keep her trapped in some sort of permanent state of childhood.

In our modern world, many tweens want a girlfriend or a boyfriend not because of any sexual or romantic desires but simply because they think that they are SUPPOSED to have a girlfriend or boyfriend to demonstrate their maturity and social status.  And thus is born the absurd world of tween dating: the nonsensical practice of finding a member of the opposite sex who a) is not entirely annoying and b) holds a status on his/her own peer group that is at least equal to yours.  Occasional interaction with your boyfriend or girlfriend is required. Sitting together at lunch and texting in the evening should cover it.

Make no mistake, there are sharks in the waters.  Kids mature at all different levels and you never know about the home life of your child’s classmates.  There are tween suitors who fall somewhere between unsavory and predatory.  These should be avoided at all costs.  Starting out a dating career with one of these types can set a disastrous precedent and lead your child down a very dangerous path.

But for the most part, tween dating amounts to little more than having a close friend of the opposite gender or someone with whom to attend the school dance just so that she doesn’t have to be seen as a “loser” who couldn’t get a date.  The fact that she doesn’t particularly want a date often doesn’t enter into it.  It’s all about appearances.

This is not an endorsement of tween dating by any stretch.  But if it comes up, you should understand what’s involved before making any decisions.

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