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Fostering Healthy Social Situations for Young Teens

With daughters 10, 12, and 14 I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how to help them build relationships with both genders while preparing for dating. In particular, I have a lovely 14-year-old daughter who is starting to notice boys, and they are starting to notice her too. You might even say there is a crush or two developing.

I don’t want to put the kibosh on these feelings. I remember having them myself and I think they were not only great learning experiences but also a time to just have fun and not worry about the more serious dating stuff. On the other hand, we do have family and church guidelines and we definitely want to encourage our children to stay within those bounds as well.

So, I am asking for your thoughts. If you’ve passed this stage with some of your children, how did you navigate it? If your children are younger, is there anything you are doing now to prepare them for the “in between” time (I would call it ‘tween but they really are teens, just not dating teens yet). 

What milestones do you have for certain ages? How do you handle that first crush? Do you just ignore it, talk about it, foster it in healthy ways?

When my kids were little I always thought I would know exactly what to do. Now that it is upon me, it’s harder than I thought!

I would love to partake of your wisdom, fellow Mormon Mommas (and dads too!)

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Amy Lockhart May 3, 2013, 10:13 am

    We have been thinking a lot about this too. Thanks for the post. I hope we get lots of great ideas.

    One thing we have come up with is to host game nights at our home. It’s a safe environment and there is no question as to what the rules are. Provide some yummy food, a few fun games, invite friends, and your off.

    Obeying the no bedrooms rule of course is key. Having it be a family event rather than a teen party where all siblings and parents have to disappear, helps as well. It’s always good to see how possible love interests interact with family and how your child behaves around that person.

    I have a friend that does fancy dinner parties at home. For the same reasons as above, but also to provide an outlet for those who like to get fancied up and feel more formal. The younger siblings enjoy being the wait staff. If there is a budding chef among the crew it’s a fun opportunity for them to show off their skills to their friends.

    They also get other families in on it and do progressive dinners geared toward the young adults. With those, the family stays home except for the chauffeur :) and the young adults are pampered through the night.

    The thought behind these types of activities being to offer meaningful social opportunities away from technology in order to foster communication and all that good stuff :)
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…The Power of FriendshipMy Profile

  • mango leaf May 4, 2013, 12:08 pm

    I think the best way is to open your home to friends. When you are part of the mix it makes it easier to spot problems.

  • Alison Moore Smith May 16, 2013, 10:31 am

    Angie, I was hoping to get input from those wiser than I am!

    My kids are so so SO different, that it was hard to help some and with others nothing had to be done! With those who have a hard time creating their own positive social activities — which in many ways is best, I think — here are some things we have done:

    Teen Scene – we invited a huge group of (homeschooled) teens (sometimes up to 70+) to our home once per month for an activity. Sometimes just a BYO BBQ, sometimes a holiday party (Halloween, Christmas caroling, etc.). Once we had a pizza party and a live concert by Stephanie Maybe in our family room. :) (She was incredibly lovely and gracious, btw.)

    Open your home – we have tried to arrange (and build) our home in a way that had space for fun. Big yard with fire pit, play ground, room for volleyball, etc. (Space for the pool one day.) Rec room and OPEN theater with foosball, popcorn machine, kitchenette for snacks and treat.

    Activities – while I don’t want to “over program” my kids (they do it too much themselves) one of the best ways for them to have healthy social situations is pretty much the same as it is for adults: get involved in positive, productive things they love. Sports, theater, dance, service, etc., all provide places to DO good things (rather than just hang out and waste time) while meeting people with similar interests.

    I’d love to hear from others on this. I think we can all use help in this area!

    Thanks for the thoughtful post, Angie.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Celebrate 43 Years of Earth Day StupidityMy Profile

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