My daughter is in the sixth grade, and she has now started to “date” boys. Nicole thinks she is way too young to be having boyfriends, where I feel it is normal and harmless behavior. I remember when I was in sixth grade, I had girlfriends and it seemed to be, a normal practice at this time. Sixth grade is just a time where boyfriends/girlfriends are just the in thing to have. She has taken the next step in life, and this is part of that next step. The question I pose today, is if she is too young to have a boyfriend?

I think the whole thing, is all innocent at this time in her life. The biggest events, which seem to happen, when you are boyfriend and girlfriend at this age, is hugging and holding hands. She did have one boyfriend, this year who wanted to take that next step and kiss, but she was not ready to do that, so he broke up with her. I am happy that my daughter knows her own comfort level and boundaries enough to say no. I have noticed, that they tend to throw the word “I love you” around the day they start to date, which at first bothered me, but then I thought back to when I was young, and that word was thrown around all to casually. These kids have no concept of relationship love, so I am not really concerned over them using the word, because it means nothing.

I also think, dating must be normal at this age, because they have started doing school dances. I again, think back to when we started doing school dances, and one of the thrills was asking girls to go to dances with you, which is what they are doing today. You would think as her father, I would be freaking out over all this, but I am really okay with the whole thing. It is not, that I am not protective of her, because papa bear syndrome runs rampant with all my children. I guess, I just see this as normal innocent behavior for a sixth grader. When I think back I was actually “dating” in the fifth grade, and I am sure things have not changed much from then to today.

I am sure as time goes by, I will be less and less okay with her having boyfriends, considering as how things progress physically as they age. I was a bit nervous, but excited when she had her first kiss, but I will not feel the same when it comes to her first French kiss. Anything after the French kiss completely terrifies me. I think I may get her a chastity belt when she turns thirteen. I may think this behavior is all innocent and fine now, but I can guarantee you as she gets older I will become the dad who holds a shotgun the first time I meet with her boyfriends.

So, which one is it, should she be allowed to date, because it is a normal right of passage at her age, or is this completely inappropriate? As I have said, in looking back at my childhood, this was all normal behavior, thus I am totally okay with what she is doing.

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Comments
  1. Lydia says:

    When I was in the sixth grade “dating” someone meant that you sat together at lunch, hung out at recess and maybe talked your parents into driving you to the football game on Friday night. A few of my friends kissed the people they were going out with but that was as far as it went physically speaking (and even that was a bit controversial in my rural, midwestern, 1990s school.)

    If this is all your daughter is doing I wouldn’t worry. It’s like a practice run for the more adult relationships they will be having in a few years.

    The important thing is that she feels like she can talk to you about anything. I tried to talk to my parents about dating when I was 13 and they shut the conversation down because they thought I was far too young for anything like that. It made me hesitant to talk about those things again with them for several years.

  2. gmomj says:

    Oh Dad, times have changed, where have you been?? The question isn’t about your daughter the question is about the boys.
    Girls may be okay with hand holding and meeting up at the movies. But think back when you were an adolescent boy. Now keep in mind all the visual stimulus the super young are getting even from PG rated movies. Up periscope? Girls have a peer pressure factor built in so if one friend has given in to sexual favors for a boy it can become an issue for your child if she feels pressured to “keep up” with her friends.
    I thought my baby girls were innocent lasses. Ha! Older boys were sneaking them out of the house before they were 14. I shudder to remember.

    • gmomj,

      I am fine with a peck on the lips, but I am nervous about everything after that. I dread the day I need to worry about her sneaking out of the house!! She is a beautiful young lady who is very social so I am sure I should enjoy the few years I have left of her innocence

  3. akarmin says:

    Much more listening than lecturing is in order now.
    -Try not to make assumptions about what your daughter is thinking or feeling, about what her motives are, or about how she may react. Check things out with her first. “How do you feel about dating/this boy? What is the best/worst part?”

    When faced with resistence, you could say something to the effect of, “I never thought of it that way, I’m sure your think of something” or “You got a real problem there, I don’t know what to tell you” or “I trust you will figure it out”.

    • Akarmin,

      We have not received resistence when it comes to this topic. She came home and told us this boy wanted to kiss her. We told her she was too young and that she shouldnt do anything if she isnt ready. She told him that and he broke up with her. Well her new boyfriend on the other hand she has kissed him. When she told us we still told her she was still too young so she told her boyfriend that we didnt want her kissing and she is going to respect us on this.

  4. Frank Vidal says:

    Hi Tim,
    I have been wanted to comment of more than one of your posts; the only thing stopping me has been time; and what a nasty mistress she is! As I have read through your wonderful blog, I’ve developed somewhat of a “kindred spirit” feeling towards you; meaning that I feel that I understand what you’re trying to communicate and that it simultaneously waxes familiar to me. Before commenting on this post, which is very close to home for me, I would like to take a brief moment to thank you for having the B-A-L-L-S to write your heart out in your blog. That kind of courage and self-knowledge is an inspiration!

    As to your post; this is an issue very near and dear to me as the father of 3 daughters. There are many fathers with 3 daughters in the world, but in my case it’s the differences in their ages which gives me what I feel is a unique perspective; one that I would share with you. My daughters are 35, 27 and 4 years old, respectively. My oldest is married with 3 children, my second is married with no children yet and my youngest is sitting next to me right now repeating “Daddy, what are your writing?” endlessly! This broad spread in ages simply means that I’ve been through the whole process of my girls becoming women in its entirety, twice and separately. When you have daughters that are only 2-5 years apart in age, you are still going through the emotional horror with the oldest when the next one hits, so it doesn’t really become a complete and individual experience. That having been said, I can now tell you that I feel where you’re coming from and now you know why! After three of them, I have yet to come up with the words to describe how I feel about my daughters. The best I have been able to come up with is to say that in a life full of incredible achievements, my daughters are the the most incredible thing I’ve ever done. The heart wrenching journey with the coming-of-age episode of my oldest prepared me for the next one, to which I tried to apply what I’ve learned and now with my little one, I feel just a tiny bit more prepared, but I know I won’t be. There’s only one bit of advice I can offer and it ties in directly to the question you ask in your post. Remember this well, for it can help in those times when your gut feels like a roll of barbed wire: Your daughter(s) will always do what they decide to do, regardless of what anyone thinks. They make their choices based on what they think they know, and a good part of that knowledge base can come from Dad. It is a logical and sensible course of action to deal with your daughters as you would with others who you care about: be their friend, be objective, look at both sides of every issue and give them your support. That’s very hard to do as a father, I’m sure you’ve realized this. We fathers tend to lose our objectivity a bit when it comes to our daughters, and it’s no wonder; they’re our little angels. In the end, it doesn’t matter if you or I, or anyone thinks that it’s okay if they date or have boyfriends in the sixth grade, it’s what they actually do that matters, and we as fathers, can either be a part of their decision making process or not, it’s up to them to decide based on how we deal with them. Balance what your mind calculates with what your heart feels, mix them up in a bowl made of love and strain it through a filter called human judgment; pour that cocktail over ice and enjoy it; it will never let you down. As the wise 老子 “Taishang Laojun” once wrote: “The right thing to do isn’t always the best thing to do.” Just keep loving your daughters; it’s clear that you do; very much. You’ll do fine!

    Regards

    Frank

    • Frank,

      Welcome to the community and thank you for the praise! I really needed to hear it. Thank you for the advice, I only have one daughter and it is tough as hell I can’t imagine having three. I have two boys and it is easier than girls. She is 11 years old now so I figure I have 1 year and two months left before she hits 13. I fear this day, and all I can hope for is she finds the right friends who wont corrupt my little girl.

    • Tim's better half says:

      Hi Frank-

      I enjoyed your words of advice. I too agree that our children are going to do what they want, regardelss of what we tell them to do. Hence why I took the stand with Brianna and said to her, you are going to do what you feel is right. All I can do is be here to make sure you are properly informed and as a sounding board to listen and offer you my opinion based on life experience. She asked if I would be mad if she kissed this boy, i said no not mad, dissapointed but not mad. I explained that I simply feel that she should reserve giving soemthing as special as your first kiss until she is positive that the boy is a kind good hearted person. With that conversation alone, she on her own made teh judgement call to tell him she was not going to kiss him. I should add, they did technically kiss, but it was a half one as she was going to kiss him on the cheek and some boy grabedhis head and turend it, so it was a woops half kiss.
      Frank we too have kids in spread out ages, not as spread out as yours but ours are 15,11, & 6 and they are all in their own sperate stages of developement in life. As a littel girl their daddies are their main guiding light as to what/how a man should be and should treat them, this is why many of us end up with husbands somuch like our fathers. You sound like you are a very loving and interactive father Frank, and from all of us litle daddies girls out there, congratualtions for being that way!!

  5. gmomj says:

    I just read Frank’s good advise and just have one thing to add. I don’t believe a parent can be their growing children’s friend. It’s confusing for the kids. Just ask them. They need guidance (with love lots of love) not another friend.
    If your girl was mine, at hat age I would allow group dates only. No going alone with a boy.JMHO. Take care gmom.

  6. brendamarroy says:

    Hi Tim,
    Personally, I think she’s too young. Since she’s in the 6th grade I would think she is either 11 or 12. I know times have changed, but when I was that age I was still a little girl. But then, in my day 10 and 11 year old girls were not giving boys blow jobs in the bushes and behind the stairs at school. Thanks to the “progressive” society we live in kids today are in a hurry to get on with it.
    She’s your daughter so you and your wife will have to make the choice, but since you asked I’m giving you my thoughts on the topic. No way would I allow my 6th grader to have a date.

    • Brenda,

      She has asked to go to a movie with a boy, but we said only if I came with. Thank god I dont have to worry about her giving blowjobs! I think at 6th grade they have no concept of being boyfriend/girlfriend it is just something they do, at least this is how I remembered it.

  7. Your Wife says:

    UGH Tim- I do not think she is to young to have “boyfriends” in the innocent sense of saying we are boyfriend/girlfriend and maybe they sit by each other at lunch rot et each other. That in itself is fine.

    What I think she is too young for is sleazy boys named Rico who text her “Hey Baby , I love you” the first day they are going out. Who texts her things like” I cant wait to see your beautiful face, that’s is all I think about” or “I really want to kiss you, I have kissed two other girls” Those are things I think she is to young for.

    I speak very openly and honestly with our children, both of my older kids have had the “sex” talk with me. Brianna is 100% honest and open with me about her boyfriends, and what she feels and thinks, so honest to the point her friends can’t believe she tells me what she tells me. What I have tried to instill in Brianna since day one, is self respect, independence, morals and the ability to listen to that gut instinct of what feels right and what feels wrong. I want her to feel secure with herself that she does not build her self worth based on other people, especially males, liking her or not.

    Although a peck on the lips may be innocent, its still a step in the direction of physical relationships. Yes I know as Bri says “its not like we are making out mom, gross” I still feel that 11 years old is a bit young. She is very much in that stage of finding herself among her peer groups, she currently as two separate groups, one group that I refer to as the “norm” and the other group that I refer to as the “rebellious” She says all my friends have had their first kiss, so I had her clarify who “ALL” these friend s are, of course she lists the girls form the rebellious group. I asked her about her friends from the other group and of course none of them have had their first kiss, most are simply just having a first boyfriend.

    Its important to me that my children, especially the girl, hold on to their innocence as long as they can. I hope Brianna respects herself enough to not do anything that doesn’t feel right to her. I was very proud of her ability to tell Rico she was not ready. And to tell this newest boyfriend that she doesn’t want to disappoint her mom, and that her mom hopes she can wait until at least 7th grade before “kissing” a boy on the lips and she would like to try and honor that.

    So no I do not think at 11yrs old in 6th grade that it is quite time for that physical step, I don’t think what you did Tim as a child was the norm, or for that matter what I did as a child (becoming a mother at 15yrs old is not the norm) I do not want our children to be drawn to that “rebellious” side, I want them to know that there is more out there in life than relationships and that to take as much time as they can before they start having to worry about pleasing the opposite sex and worrying about al that goes into having any sort of relationship.

  8. waywardweed says:

    You just reminded me of my first “date.” I was eleven. The boy needed to take someone–anyone–to a dance and I got picked. We barely said a word to eachother, making it a rather unpleasant experience.

  9. Tim,
    I am a former educator, at both the primary and secondary levels, and I also raised a daughter.
    Here is the thing.
    It sounds as if what your daughter considers to be dating is pretty innocent. Certainly what you experienced in sixth grade does seem pretty “normal” to me.
    I bet you knew that there was a “but” coming.
    I do think that you need to take your wife’s instincts into account too, because she has been where your daughter is, and you haven’t. She needs to be in integral part of keeping your daughter prepared for the future, because the day will come that your daughter won’t be comfortable talking to Daddy about certain things.
    Grade Six now is liable to be more like Grade Seven when you were a kid, and so on. A lot of girls do lose their innocence, in one way or another, much younger than was once the case. I am not advocating that you lose sleep at night, but don’t become complacent either.
    While it is true that kids will need to make their own decisions regardless, the love of a father who shows affection readily and gives a lot of praise can be a crucial factor in whether a girl goes looking for love in the wrong places or is confident enough to take a stand when it counts.
    Keep emphasizing that no matter what, she can say “No” to a boy or her peers at any time.
    Jodi
    P.S. If she hasn’t had the talk about how noone should touch her anywhere her bathing suit would cover, there is not time like the present. If she has, oh well, refresh her memory anyway.

  10. Johanna says:

    Tim, I would allow the kids to date but with restrictions. For example, they must be supervised any time they are together and have limited text/phone contact. Little girls are vulnerable emotionally at this age. I would guard her heart as well as her body!

  11. Noel says:

    I consider myself an overprotective father of an 8 year old girl, and I am not ashamed to admit it. My daughter will not date until she is 30. But seriously, it is the boys you really have to worry about. This is why I trust that you have educated your daughter and shown her what she should expect of boys. I plan to take my daughter, when she is a bit older, on a date myself, so that I can show her what a gentleman should be. But in the mean time, always be there for her, so that she feels comfortable coming to you with problems. My opinion is, the dating should wait. But you do what your instinct tells you. Maybe a double date with chaperones would be less risky. Take care.

  12. whatsaysyou says:

    Random thinker, I have to be honest here. When I was about your daughter’s age long ago in the 1990s, I never dated. Although I have no experience in dating, hope you do not mind me to have my say about this. I understand that she is dating and you’re going a little bit papa bear syndrome but let me assure you that it is okay to feel a tiny bit protective over your child although you do understand she is growing up (I may not know you but I truly believe you are a good father who cares).

    It is okay to let her date but you and mum must never forget to teach her about the whole teen dating violence issue where she needs to learn that being belittled or controlled by a mean boyfriend never equates love and respect. Secondly, you both need to empower her to say “No” and stand her ground if a boyfriend acts inappropriately towards her and especially if your daughter knows pretty well that she is not emotionally and physically prepared to take the next level with her date. Here is another tip: encourage your daughter to bring her date home for dinner or maybe a small gathering so that you and mum can get to know him better.

    Last but not least, if your and mum’s gut instincts tell you both that your daughter’s date is a real sleazeball under the shiny armour, listen to your instincts but don’t panic. If your daughter experiences a heartbreak or a bad experience with a date, be there for her to hear her out or be a shoulder to cry on. And also tell her that it is not the end of the world all because of a dating experience gone sour.

    • Whatsay,

      Welcome to the community! I am over protective of her in many ways, but I am also very liberal when it comes to her upbrining. I consider myself lucky that my wife can balance me out on the liberal side

  13. DP says:

    I’m nowhere near on this one Tim. Still single and killing it. 😉 We’ll see how things roll out with the current interest (I think she’s attempting to compare me to some image in her mind that is a misrepresentation of the ‘ideal’).

    If I remember my first kiss, it was in like 7th grade.

  14. leelee says:

    Some comedian once said, “When you’ve got a son, you worry about one dick. When you’ve got a daughter, you worry about all dicks.”

    I’ve got 2 teenaged sons so I am in the latter category. At what age did you allow the 15 year old boy to date? I know that girls and boys are different, but if I were the daughter, that would be the first place I would look.

    • leelee says:

      And by boy, I meant your son.

      • Tim's better half says:

        Leelee- our oldest son luckily is far more into football, weight-lifting, and x-box than he is into girls. He had his first “girlfriend” in 6th grade but it was the innocent we are bf/gf and talked in school and a couple times on the phone but never went farther than that. He took a girl to teh movies one time this year at age 15. I feel 15 is a good age to start being able to do things like going to movies with a bf or gf, not age 11

    • leelee says:

      Duh, the first category. Engrish is challenging today!

  15. leelee says:

    Tim’s better half – I think I would probably agree with you if I had an 11 year old girl. Oy! It is a scary world out there! Why do they have to grow up so fast?

  16. renxkyoko says:

    I’m single, and have never really dated.( I’m excluding group dates and parties ) I don’t remember thinking of doing ” stuff” other than having fun, though, during my tween years. I really don’t know what to say.

  17. jennirey says:

    Tim,

    I have one daughter she is now 20, she is a well rounded young girl. She works hard and goes to school and has a steady boyfriend, whom I really like.

    When she was 11, 12, 13 at first I tried really hard to direct her.. and she rebelled much more than I did at that age. I feel that if you just offer wisdom and guidance and understanding.
    Do understand kids will do whatever kids will do.. no matter what we want from them.
    We just have to encourage them to grow and make the right choices and hope that they really will when we are not looking, or they think we are not.

    Dating at 12.. I do not think so much of I think its a bit early..going on dates..

    But, going in groups to the movies or the mall or the amusement park is OK at that age..

    Keep in mind that even if you tell her she cannot have a boyfriend, you have to understand she might say “Ok Dad” and still have one. Kids of 11, 12 and 13 are learning to be their own persons and learning where and when they can push the limits with us.

  18. Joshua says:

    Young girls do not have the emotional maturity for “dating” of any sort… Boys are a distraction and a boy who is actively pursuing your daughter is dangerous. Why chance such a scenario? Children look to their parents for direction. Young girls especially need guidance from their Dads. If you think it’s cute and want to sit on the sidelines as an observer rationalizing her daughter’s every movement like the idiot who posed the question in the first place, be my guest, better yet, be that Grandparent. Wake up people!

  19. Olivia Scarpaci says:

    I agree with some other comments, in sixth grade dating was hanging out and being able to call people you boyfriend or girlfriend, it wasn’t like how it is now. I don think I would let my sixth grader date until 8th grade just for more responsibility but that’s my opinion!

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