AIBU To think boyfriend/girlfriends shouldn't be encouraged before the age of 16?

(52 Posts)
CadburyChocolateCrunchie Fri 02-Sep-16 07:01:44

My niece is 11, nearly 12 and has a "boyfriend". Her parents seem to encourage this by allowing him over for "date night" where they watch movies in her room. They refer to it as date night. They've been allowed to go to the cinema alone, eat out alone (Mcdonalds..) etc.

Someone else I know allows their 14 year old's girlfriend to stay the night (separate rooms)

Surely this is too young?

miserablesod Fri 02-Sep-16 07:05:55

Definitely too young imo. My 14 year old had never had a boyfriend and is just not interested in boys, thankfully. I wouldn't encourage it and there definitely wouldn't be any sleeping at each others houses. Maybe when they are adults 18+ but not before.

OhhBetty Fri 02-Sep-16 07:11:42

Yes it is too young. However, my parents went the other way and so I ended up seeing him behind their back and having sex aged 14 which I was very pressured into. If I had have had someone to talk to about it I don't think I would have.

Fairylea Fri 02-Sep-16 07:13:37

My dd is 13 and I agree with miserablesod. Lots of her friends have boyfriends and I think it's much too young. I'm sure she's interested in boys - what 13 year old isn't attracted to people- but I think proper boyfriends can wait until they're older.

iloveeverykindofcat Fri 02-Sep-16 07:22:04

I had a boyfriend at 15. We were emo kids and all we really did was listen to Joy Division together and work on our 'band'. We kissed a bit. No sex.

It was harmless. My mother sort-of encouraged it because she was glad I had finally had friends, I think.

phillipp Fri 02-Sep-16 07:37:15

I think Yabu. I don't get angst over them going to the cinema alone.

Dd (12) is yet to have a boyfriend however if/when she does I won't be having rules like no going to the cinema alone.

Personally I would rather welcome said boyfriend than demand Dd dumps him or refuse to acknowledge him. I find that style of parenting Arles ends well.

Tabsicle Fri 02-Sep-16 08:10:29

I think whatever you think, it's unrealistic to think you can stop teens dating. My parents were very anti boyfriends and didn't want me to bring boys home until I was 18. Didn't stop me, but did mean I felt I couldn't talk about these things, and wound up making some pretty bad decisions.

I also think these rules are kind of stupid in their heteronormativity. I wasn't allowed guys in my room, but was allowed to share a bed with girls. Uh. Yeah. That worked out well. Although I guess to be fair my girlfriend couldn't get me pregnant.

coffeetasteslikeshit Fri 02-Sep-16 08:24:24

I think that at that age, and as the mother of a nearly 12 year old boy myself, they're actually just friends who are playing at boyfriend and girlfriend. There seems to be a culture in some of the primary schools near us that if you're friends with someone of the opposite sex then you must be going out with each other. It's quite strange really, it doesn't happen in my DS's school, he just has friends that are girls.

But whatever, what's the harm?

Birdsgottafly Fri 02-Sep-16 09:57:11

I'm 48, so very different times.

My Parents had a lot of issues, so being over hysterical about under age boyfriends was just another thing.

However, I matured, physically and emotionally earlier than the average. I wish I had someone who I could talk to, without being told to ignore my growing feelings.

Having to hide everything, meant that I was exploited by older Boyfriends. I was lucky that the GP would prescribe contraceptives at 14.

I agree that it shouldn't be encouraged and my three DDs have male friendships, but a blanket ban and statements such as 'too young' aren't the right way to go.

I find that how quick people declare themselves in full on relationships, is a bigger problem.

Yorkieheaven Fri 02-Sep-16 10:07:21

It's tricky.

Yes 12/13 is a child obviously but I see no harm in going to the cinema with a boy/girl. Not sure would use there're date night as it's fairly daft for adults let alone children.

By 14/15 I think you need to be very careful banning things as it's the quickest way to build up walls and loose trust. We were always open with our kids and that worked for us.

I went with dd to get the pill at nearly 16 as she asked me too.

I have a friend who had lots of rules like no boys upstairs and no boys in the house with her dd alone. Her dd got pregnant at 16. Strangely she had no such rules for her lads.

NurseRoscoe Fri 02-Sep-16 10:11:55

I think it's cute, basically a friend that is a boy and that sort of idea should be encouraged, rather than the idea that boyfriend/girlfriend = sex. My partner is my best friend now. However even saying that, I have worked in maternity and met pregnant 12 year olds. I do think that the parents need to be aware that things COULD happen if left alone in a bedroom, and deal with it accordingly (supervision, door open, talk to them about risks of unprotected sex etc) but banning the 'relationship' completely could push them to go behind parents back. Sorry if I have explained myself really badly!

toomuchtooold Fri 02-Sep-16 10:27:17

I think banning it risks creating a Romeo and Juliet scenario, pushing the kids together even more.

I had a very restrictive upbringing and despite that (well, partly because of I suppose, as I might have been slightly less desperate for love had my home life been a bit happier) managed to have a relationship that started when I hadn't yet turned 15. We would have been able to find opportunities to have sex too, if we'd wanted.

I think if you're talking about kids who're of similar ages, it's not age limits that's going to keep them safe - it's self esteem, and the confidence and practice of knowing and negotiating their own limits with other people. Conversely, if a kid ends up having sex they don't want at 16 I don't see that as inherently less sad than if it happened at 15 or even 14. To that end, I think it's quite good if kids of 12 and 13 are allowed a bit of freedom over their friendships, while the sort of peer expectations around sex haven't really kicked in yet.

isittimeforcoffee Fri 02-Sep-16 10:45:46

I had a boyfriend from the age of 13 to 16. My mum and dad let him come up into my bedroom. We would just sit there, watching films, having a bit of a snog but that really was it. They were really relaxed but I knew I could go and talk to either of them if I wanted to. We eventually drifted apart and I met my now husband when I was 17, who was the first bloke I slept with! I think my parents being so relaxed help me to feel confident in not doing anything silly in a park or a friends house or something like that with someone.

JaceLancs Fri 02-Sep-16 11:00:28

I was an early developer (periods at 9) by 12/13 dating but not seriously, and didn't have full sex till I was ready and in a loving relationship post 16
DD similar to self
DS is 20+ and not dated yet
We are all different - and I would rather DC felt comfortable with their relationship choices that having to hide them or meet with unreasonable disapproval

TotalConfucius Fri 02-Sep-16 11:06:33

I don't condone 'encouraging' it (and find it hard to see what one could do to 'encourage' it) but certainly I wouldn't ban it from secondary age onwards.
Tbh, once a DC is in Yr9 and you start hearing whispers about some of the goings-on, it might seem hugely preferable to have your 14 yr old sitting upstairs watching telly with her boyfriend every night!

Omgkitties Fri 02-Sep-16 11:07:41

There's no way you can really stop it and even if you tried to it wouldn't be fair. I do agree it is a tad young at 12 but at 14/15/16 it's normal.

My BIL started seeing his girlfriend when they were 14 and there still together now at 19, everyone always attaches MIL for saying it's ridiculous she allowed that to happen but it's not like she could really stop it, they were in school together 5 days a week and how would she know how serious it would get? It's just daft to suggest anyone can stop teens dating.

Omgkitties Fri 02-Sep-16 11:11:05

Attacks not attach haha

Omgkitties Fri 02-Sep-16 11:11:54

Jesus so many mistake. Everyone always attacks MIL and says it's ridiculous. Not they attack her for saying it's ridiculous.

LaurieLemons Fri 02-Sep-16 11:13:30

I agree that I wouldn't encourage boyfriends/girlfriends before 16 but I don't think there's anything you can do to stop it. I also think going to the cinema or hanging out with a parent home is harmless. I had 'boyfriends' at 11/12 and I can't remember them ever really meaning anything.

YelloDraw Fri 02-Sep-16 11:15:36

I think it is actually really good to practice at a few relationships in a safe, no sex environment with a bit of parental oversight.

I don't think super intense relationships are good, but a bit of dating , going to MacDonald, the cinema etc is fine.

brasty Fri 02-Sep-16 11:17:06

I had boyfriends from 12, but didnt have sex until 16. We held hands and kissed. I don't see the problem.

SugarMiceInTheRain Fri 02-Sep-16 11:19:17

FWIW I agree with you. In America it seems much more common to go on 'group dates' and my friends over there encourage their children to do that, and not have a serious bf/ gf til at least 16, as there is a lot of pressure for teens to develop serious relationships before they have the emotional maturity to deal with them. I will be encouraging my children to stick to meeting up as groups and avoid serious one-on-one relationships too early, but as other posters have said, being too strict about this sort of thing will likely just lead to them rebelling and being drawn towards unsuitable relationships to prove a point/ hiding relationships from you and putting themselves in riskier situations.

JeanGenie23 Fri 02-Sep-16 11:23:26

Hmm I think I have to place myself firmly on the fence and say it depends on the teen.

My mom was a sexual health nurse so growing up my brother and I were subject to very frank discussions, that whilst we're embarrassing, at least I knew the facts. I was never really bothered by boys until I was 15/16, I had a few boyfriends but all that entailed was hugging in the playground. I met my DP when I was 17 and we slept together but we knew to use contraception and we were very sensible and I felt very much head over heels for him.

I think having a boyfriend/girlfriend young can happen and doesn't have to be the end of the world if parents and the teenager can be truthful with one another. Perhaps that's what your friends are trying to achieve? It's better not to create an environment where they have to sneak around.

ApocalypseSlough Fri 02-Sep-16 11:27:11

It's hard- cinema and McDo fine at any age, sleepovers, watching movies in their room, not so.
But I can see that banning just isolates a child and you could have a very vulnerable child with no one to talk to about situations they can't understand.

SlinkyVagabond Fri 02-Sep-16 11:38:42

It's a fine line. Whilst 11/12 is far too young for proper gf/Bf relationships, downright forbidding it will make it seem even more attractive. I think going to mc Donald's and the cinema is fairly innocent. And I agree with the idea of going out with a group of friends.
However, I work in a secondary school and for every "sweet and innocent" teen relationship there are plenty who are in physical relationships at 12,13,14. Parents need to know their children, remember what it was like (and what they would try and get away with at that age) and talk to them. No need to act the heavy parent, but remember, they are not adults, no matter how much they think they are.

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