It’s finally happened. You’ve begun to see the signs all over her behavior. Her notebooks are covered with hearts and doodled initials. She’s constantly texting, talking, and typing with friends of both genders—and then giggling. Her interest in clothes, hair, and makeup is taking off. In fact, these days it almost borders on an obsession with how she looks, especially to others.
As a parent, you knew this day would come, but you have feared it nonetheless. When your daughter hits the age when she becomes boy crazy (or girl crazy!), you’ve hit a whole new stage of parenting. Your little girl is growing up; the question is, are you prepared?
Being Boy (or Girl) Crazy
It is perfectly normal for girls to develop a new interest in dating once they hit a certain point in their life. Generally, each girl hits it a little differently, some early and some late, but usually it comes with the first signs of puberty in their early teens. Even if a girl has not yet hit puberty, however, she may be experiencing an interest in dating that has been inspired by the preteen culture of her friends and peers.
A newly relationship-crazy girl may be simply obsessed with the subject. Don’t be surprised if she not only talks about them, but also pursues them aggressively using all the social tools at her disposal. As a parent, its your job to be aware of her new interests and behaviors while ensuring that she pursues them in a manner that is safe for herself and others. On top of that, you may want to see that she spends at least a portion of her mental energy on other things.
The 411 on Teenage Girls in “Love”
What you can do for your child right now is to let her know that the feelings she is having are a normal part of growing up. Make sure that you are mentally and emotionally available for her to discuss them as necessary and take the time to help her understand when and how it is okay to act on such feelings—and when it is not.
Preteens and young teenagers are not yet ready for the mental and emotional component of a sexual relationship, even if they feel physically prepared. This information, offered ahead of time and properly processed, can help your daughter make good decisions in the future.
Dating Rules for Teenagers
With regard to your daughter’s current interest in dating, allow her to explore it under your watchful eye. The rules you set for your teen will depend on their age and experience with dating. A younger teen shouldn't be allowed to go out on one-on-one dates, but an older teen can definitely go on them provided certain rules are followed.
Enforce a set time that you expect your daughter to be home by. Accept that there's the possibility of your older teen partaking in a sexual relationship, and prepare accordingly. Make sure she is informed about how to have safe sex, and have the conversation with her about whether birth control makes sense. It may not be a comfortable topic for you, but it's important for your daughter's safety and health.
Establish that you want to meet any boy or girl she is interested in dating. This will allow you to assess them yourself, rather than based off of what your daughter tells you or you hear from others. Don't be too hard on your daughter's potential partner, but don't be afraid to ask some important questions. What do they plan to do after high school? Are they involved in any extracurriculars? Do they have a job? These are all fair and relevant questions to ask.
What your child needs at this age is to be able to spend time with the boys she is interested in in safe social settings where she can learn how to date and be safe around members of the opposite sex.
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