I belong to a small women’s group that ranges in life experience from the very young to those that have grown children and everything in between. I love that we get to experience life together and share our experiences and learn from each other. I also love that we get to touch base and see what’s working and what’s not.
Recently, some of the moms with teens have been going through hard times with dating. I can see the issues that might arise with that having myself been a teenager and having children that will someday be teenagers. There seems to be this notion that being Christian teens means there is an absence of sexuality. There is a wide gap between the reality of what teens actually experience hormonally and how to address it appropriately so they can manage it. I know as parents we want to bubble wrap our children and pretend that they are the ones that except the rule. I understand that. But it isn’t realistic and it isn’t helpful. We need to talk with our children about the truth of what is happening to them not sweep it under the rug.
So, when I hear parents of teens say things like ‘my child isn’t even thinking of dating yet’ or ‘they’re not ready for that yet’, it sends up a red flag for me. I am just not that naïve and I want to be as wide eyed and prepared as I can be when my own children are that age.
On the flip side of things, when I am on the playground watching my children play with their peers, these are second and fourth graders, I hear parents say things like, ‘aren’t they so cute together’ or ‘they are always together like little boyfriend and girlfriend’ or ‘I’ve already decided they’re going to be boyfriend and girlfriend when they get older’. It makes no sense to me to desexualize the hormonal teens but sexualize innocent behaviors of children doing normal child play.
Is it fear that has us ignoring teens hormones? We don’t get to have it both ways. We can’t ignore teen hormones while at the same time characterize child behavior in a more mature way. All we are doing is creating an environment that confuses our children. We are sending them mixed messages. We find it “cute” when they pair up as young children but unacceptable once they reach normal teen dating age. Let’s reverse our vocabulary. Stop placing adult language on what is child play.
Parents, let’s acknowledge that teens have feelings/hormones/emotions/stuff happening that is beyond comprehension sometimes. And, let’s just let kids be kids for as long as they can be, because this is the only time they get. Once its done, it gets complicated and messy and we all wish for those simpler times when we could just run around, playing tag with our friends with not a care in the world. Let them have that.