19 September, 2008

What is the Modern Dating Age???

There are days when I feel like a dinosaur of sorts. 
In my day, we didn't have mobile phones, didn't have e-mail or the ability to IM, so our communication revolved around the telephone or face-to-face conversations.  Boys and girls became aware of one another at a certain point, but didn't really see one another outside of school until a few years later.  Things seemed very complicated to us then, but now... I see just how simple they were.  How different things are today.  
My daughter is just 8.  She will excitedly tell you that she is actually 8.75, but I like to think of her as 8.  She is aware of boys, but she isn't overly interested in them as anything other than people to work with, advise, laugh with... in other words, befriend.  And that is, to be honest, the way I like it.  
A friend of mine is not so lucky.  His eldest daughter Jane started enjoying the attention of a boy in her class at the age of 11.  Granted, she was nearly 12, and I do suppose that this might matter.  Jane and her boyfriend Joe went to the end of the year dance (met there but he asked her) and communicate, to date, via IM and see one another at school.  And now, they might be going on their first "date!"
But is it a date?  Jane says that Joe invited her.  Apparently Joe's parents say that it is a group of friends going to the movies.  Even if there are friends involved, the matter in which Jane was asked could be the tipping point as to whether or not it is a date.  Jane's parents are talking to Joe's parents as to the "event" and the rules that must be followed.  Jane will understand the boundaries set forth by her parents and their expectations of her.  
And I am looking into real estate on an island somewhere far removed from boys!  (Or home schooling?  A private tutor?)
The idea of 7th grade kids even thinking about dating seems odd to me.  It is not that I don't want my daughter to enjoy the company of boys (within reason) or an active and healthy social life.  I will arm her with all the education she needs.  It is more that I want her to enjoy being a kid and enjoying her life fully before all those hormones kick in and start contributing to her decisions. 
My daughter is a serious ballet student.  She currently spends 6 hours in the studio a week working in her own class, helping in younger classes, and rehearsing for the Nutcracker (if anyone is in the DC area and would like to attend, please let me know!).  Her dream is to dance.  By the time she enters 7th grade, she may be doing ballet full time or at least 10 hours a week - leaving little time for boys.  From my observations at her ballet school, this is the norm.  The girls don't make room for boys in their lives until they hit high school; at which point, they often leave ballet despite their love of it or their talent.  Thus, I am not too concerned. 
Yet it is something for me to consider; something for me to chat with others about.  What is the modern dating age?  Are there different rules now than there were when I was younger? 
I talked to the Diva's dad last night.  "You should have thought about that before you got pregnant."  (I dislike this response from men to the X degree).  He was joking, I am sure, but I also realize and accept that when the Diva becomes interested in boys and dating - if I am not married, then I will be on my own. 
Just as I intend for my daughter to be fully educated and able to make the best decision possible, I want to be fully educated as well.  I realize that it comes down to personal choices - for this boy she might be fine for a movie but for that boy... there is no way!  Or she is too young for a movie out but he can come over to watch a movie with her. 
The modern world of kids dating... waters that are so unfamiliar to me and yet waters that I have no doubt I must navigate at some point before I turn 50 (that gives me  12 years, by the way - and my hair will be white by then I am sure) 
So what are the rules?  When do kids start dating?  What about Face book, My Space and IM communication? 


cathouse teri said...

I told my kids that dating is for married people. :)

I'm kinda serious. One-on-one dating is no way to get to know someone. Courting is the thing.

But I don't think you'll have any trouble with the Diva.

Mike said...

Not quite sure on many of the answers. However so you know MySpace has a 14 and over rule. I would guess so do the other sites.

If you have the computer in an open area there is less chance of bad stuff happening.

TAG said...

This is a good question; but, I think you are over thinking it.

Yea, yea I know, I did the same when my daughter was that age. Not that she is about close to leaving her teenage years behind I see that I didn't need to worry about classifying and analyzing every aspect of her life.

The Diva will figure out the difference between hanging out with friends and dating. The best we can do as parents is to give them a good solid foundation for making good decisions. (It's easy to see from your blog you've been working on that since the Diva was a baby.)

Hard as it will be to do, let her make her own way figuring out boys. She may need a little guidance now and then. But mostly she'll know what to do.

I shared with my daughter just one or two simple rules that (I hope) will serve her well for the rest of her life.

1. If a boy (man) ever raises his hand to strike you in anger, drop him like last week's smelly garbage.

2. Look for people who are kind and thoughtful to everyone. Those who are disrespectful or hateful to anyone will some day turn that way toward you.

Finally, while what your Ex said was mildly humorous (assuming he meant it that way) he still deserves a dope slap for that comment.

Have a great weekend.


dadshouse said...

I agree that 12 seems young to date. I know neighbor kids who were hanging out in flirty boy/girls packs at that age. The big deal for them was to "talk" about who was with who. I'm tempted to say they didn't take it farther than that. But I also know the middle school had a problem with boys demanding oral sex from girls in the bathroom. (Don't you love when an issue can escalate to a fearful place, just like that. Where's Jerry Springer when you need him?)

My daughter is 16 and only started the group movie dates last year. She was super involved in soccer (still is), and I think that staved boys off for quite a while.

As for Diva's Dad - taken as a joke, his comment is pretty darn funny. But I get why it would tick you off. You wanted a serious response.

T said...

I try not to think about it. Its too much to deal with on my own with 2 little girls. Ugh!!

The thought never entered my mind until my soldier said one day, "You need to get those girls in sports. That way they'll use something else for their self-esteem other than boys. Keep the boys far away from them."

I love how he acts like their father. I really do.

I think it hold true with the Diva's ballet. And your own self-esteem too. I heard a quote once about how a mother's self-esteem affects her daughter's and I truly believe it. I think the Diva will be fine. She seems like a girl who can hold her own just fine.

Yep, times have changed. We just need to adapt, don't we?

mama llama said...

I started responding and it turned into a rambling mess.

Not there yet (thank God). Don't quite know what I will do when I get there, but I pray for guidance and wisdom to stay open and alert, and to keep the communication lines open as much as possible.

I had a set age: 16 for dates. And home by 10 at the absolute latest. That didn't change much when I went to college, either. I was timed on phone calls my uni boyfriend made to me, 20 minutes then I had to hang up. My parents were strict...and I was 19.

Cell phones? Texting? IMs? Difficult questions. One thing is for sure: in my house, I make sure the kids know that everything they do on the Internet and elsewhere can always be observed and interrupted by me. Just so that they're used to the lack of secrecy. Period.

Doubt that will help much later, but who knows?

In Jr. High I had boys (only the geeks, mind you, as I was taller than more than half the boys in jr. high) after me...one made me a gingerbread sleigh with a love poem tucked into Santa's bag. Wow. 14 years old. Nobody's ever done much like that for me since.

Be well, TE.

Scorpy said...

My two daughters (soon to be 13 and an 8 yr old going on 19) can date as soon as they own their own homes!!!!!!

Singlemom said...

My son is 12 and he is not allowed to have a facebook or myspace page yet. Once I do decide to let him, I will have the passwords. I wrote an article about the danagers of myspace, if anyone is interested.