Your Preteen May Be Dating Someone And You Don’t Even Realize It

Listen carefully. If you have a 4th or 5th grade kid, and you think they’re oblivious to sex and dating, then you need to wake up! I’ve spent the last two years substitute teaching at an elementary school, and it’s been a real eye-opener. And, before you think, “But my kids don’t have a cell phones, and we monitor what they watch at home and they still play with action figures and dress up costumes,” think again. The pressure to couple up and claim a partner is intense for some of these 9 and 10 year olds.

In one day, I overheard several different groups of kids talking about the “commitment ceremonies” they witnessed at recess. Yes, at recess! We are talking about quasi-dating and public declarations of affection amongst a group of people that are still excited about monkey bars and twisty slides. But, before you think this was all just cute, innocent crushes, let me tell you the rest. One boy said he wanted to “put a baby inside” of his new girlfriend. Another kiddie couple kissed on the lips in front of a crowd of playmates to seal the deal of their new couple-hood. These same kids are going home to play with Beanie Boos and light sabers. They’re afraid of big roller coasters and they still sleep with nightlights.

Girls are being catty because they “love” the boy that’s “dating” another girl. Girls are wearing their boyfriends’ sweatshirts and boys are wearing armloads of their VSCO girlfriend’s scrunchies to show that they belong to each other. Although I have yet to hear of any same sex couples, I’m sure that’s mostly because a lot of kids are afraid to come out until they’re older. But, I have heard kids throw around the term LGBTQ, lesbian, and gay. So, all of those adult themes and content that you’re busily steering your kid away from are part of their daily conversations. They know what transgendered means, and they aren’t squeamish about it. As someone who has been a fly on the wall of several elementary classes, you need to talk to your kids about sex, sexuality, consent, and healthy relationships now. Right now.

If you think they’re too young, that’s wishful thinking. They’ve already asked Siri and their clueless friends every PG-13 or R rated question you can imagine.

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