What could be cuter than the sight of childhood sweethearts? Cherub-faced puppy lovers holding hands just look so innocent. Many parents think it’s adorable when their young child finds a little crush. But potential harm lurks and wise parents know it.
That Train Does Not Run Backwards
If there’s ever been a more sexually aware generation than the generation following the Millennials – Generation Z (1996-2010), I don’t know of it.
Sadly, but with good reason, it’s been important to drill these kids with the message “privates are private.” But in addition to that, they’ve also experienced the most liberal standards for sexuality on television to date. The internet provides access to the little they can’t find on television. And public schools are now indoctrinating kids in kindergarten with a liberal sexual “ethic.”
In various contexts, these kids have been exposed to more sexual conversation than previous generations. I don’t believe it has been without effect. We are losing ground, at a cultural level, in the effort to keep young kids naive and innocent. We will not regain that ground because the cultural train does not possess a reverse gear.
So it’s up to parents to do all they can to guard their child’s innocence. One thing you can do is to not encourage – in fact, to actively discourage – a childhood sweethearts relationship (ages 3-16).
Teach Sexual Morals Young
Ideally, kids should observe a healthy romantic relationship between their parents. It’s great for them to see this appropriately modeled at a young age. But from a young age, they should be taught romantic displays of affection are for grown-ups. Strictly for adults.
The logic is not complicated. The earlier a parent sets the stage for values and morals, the more likely they are to be accepted by the child. Don’t spring, for the first time, restrictions regarding sexual behavior on a teenager. They’ll likely have their own ideas on the subject and a vibrant vocabulary to express them.
Teach The Life Skill Of Waiting
Modeling a loving marital relationship to your child while curbing their inclination to imitate it emphasizes its value – just as adults attribute value to things out of our reach. Regardless of the progression of society’s cheapening of marriage – accepted as anything and becoming nothing – marriage can be upheld in the home as special and sacred. One family at a time.
Furthermore, building a hedge against childhood sweethearts relationships (even if only based in curiosity) until the appropriate time exercises a child’s “waiting muscles” and builds them up. The ability to wait patiently for we want is a life skill. If parents aren’t intentional about developing that skill in their children when they’re young, when?The ability to wait patiently for we want is a life skill. Click To Tweet
Some may object to the idea of squashing what, to them, is simply a cute little crush because
- kids are naturally curious and parents should never stifle curiosity
- it’s damaging to do so
- kids are going to do what they want behind their parent’s backs anyway
- if you support your kids instead of inhibiting them, you’ll have a better relationship
So, one by one, here’s my response.
Kids are curious about lots of things including power tools, credit cards, matches, pills, stovetops and microwaves, firearms, mom’s diamond earrings, and toxic household fluids. Giving kids access to those things before they’re responsible makes parents irresponsible. Far from damaging them, our denial is for their immediate benefit.
Wise parents identify anything with the potential to harm their child even if that harm is not immediate. If a child is in any way sexualized, that makes the list. And though your protection may not be appreciated when they’re still children, it will be when they’re adults. Especially when they’re parents themselves.
It’s absolutely true kids may disregard their parent’s instruction behind their backs. In fact, the sinful nature they inherited guarantees it at some point. But that’s not an excuse to forgo instruction or rules (as I wrote about here.) Parents must do the right thing even if kids do not.
“Support” motivated purely by the desire for a harmonious relationship with your child is (let’s skip the sugar coating) a dysfunctional stew of selfishness, laziness, and cowardice. Kids need parents, not buddies. Man up, Momma.
And If That Weren’t Enough
Finally, a dose of pragmatic reality. In a childhood sweethearts relationship, your child is not the only participant. Schools and extra-curricular programs are sensitive to “sexual harassment” scenarios even in the lowest grades (as documented in this CNN article.) A crush’s parents may not be at all amused by a school-yard smooch. So weigh that risk in the mix too.
Childhood flies by so quickly. Parent your children, with love and strength, through their desires to rush through it. Remember, these are the days you are building your legacy in them.