Dear Sir, my
ten-year-old son is starting to have girlfriends and that scares
me. My husband and I are wondering what to do. How can we
direct this energy in a positive way? We know he is too young
to have serious relationships and we do not want to come across
like dictators. Help us please.
Answer: Dear parents: Do
not fret. Your son’s ability or desire to love girls is normal.
However, it is your responsibility to keep this early
infatuation in its proper context. Here are a few suggestions:
Remember, you are the
parents. You have the authority and the leverage as adults
to provide control over this matter.
Do not nag your son.
Remember what you oppose the most becomes most attractive.
However, your son is a minor (emotionally and physically)
and you need to find time to share with him principles of
how he would be allowed to have “girl friends.”
Do not tell him he cannot
have a “girl friend.” Many parents, in the fear that their
children are starting too early or moving too fast in a
relationship would tell them: “You are too young to have a
relationship. You will have no girlfriends until you are
18.” While this might be your wish as parents, it is not
the best approach. If your son tells you he likes a
particular girl, validate his feelings by congratulating
him. You can channel the conversation into the
best way forward. You can say “Wow! That’s so nice.
However, let us talk about the best ways you can have a
girlfriend at this time in your life.” Note carefully that
you can tell your son that at his age it is the time to
focus on growing and learning and he will be a better friend
as he gets older and more mature. Note that what you
most oppose it become most attractive to the one
you asking not to do it.
While you will not “prevent”
your son from talking to his “girlfriend,” your attitude and
behavior as parents can help keep this “love affair” in the
right context. Do not allow him to go on dates. If he
wants to “go out” with her, invite several other friends his
age and go with them (and other adults) on this fun outing.
This should not be done very often. If he wants to bring
her to the home for lunch, you will tell him that he has to
invite at least three or more friends (including boys and
girls). Then you and other family members spend the time
having fun with them. This can neutralize the love
Do not allow your son to
spend long hours on the phone talking to his friend. You
can help keep the relationship in context by only allowing
him to speak for 30 minutes on the phone just two or more
times a week. You will provide the environment where he
will want to learn and focus on his school work. Make sure
you know where the cordless phone is before you go to bed at
nights. Also, do not have the television or computer in
Take control of the smart
phones. Do not give a phone to your young son without
providing guidelines and setting limitations for its use.
Note that smart phones have the ability to do what computers
can do. You can browse websites or use online messengers
such as Skype, MSN, FaceTime, FaceBook etc. Perhaps it is
not best to allow your son to have a phone in his possession
for 24 hours a day until he reaches a more mature age. That
should be an adult privilege only. Limit the time he will
have the phone during the day. Make times when it is
important or convenient for communication between parent and
When children engage in adult
behavior, it distorts healthy growth emotionally and
physically. Minors sometimes feel they know it all or
understand what it takes to have serious relationships. The
truth is their mind and body are not yet developed to handle the
stress and pressure from serious love relationships.
Dear parents, provide a warm,
loving environment for your son. Spend time with him. Provide
lots of positive reinforcements and words of encouragement.
Barrington Brennen is a marriage
and family therapist. Send your questions or comments to
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 242-327-1980 or visit