Try To Remember Your Own Childhood When You Deal With Your Kid’s First Crush
One thing about parenthood that has become more clear to me in the last year or two is how much of your own childhood will come up when raising your kids. Things that you haven’t thought of in years are brought to the surface, fresh as the day they happened, while you grapple for ways to relate to your kids as they grow and change. Sometimes, you find that your own experience can be very helpful when guiding your child as they navigate a situation. This is happening to me now as my daughter confessed to me her first crush. I was not prepared for the flood of emotion I felt and also, the intense worry that I would handle it the wrong way.
When my daughter came home from school yesterday and told me she had something she wanted to talk about, I became concerned. She is a light-hearted and happy kid. She is not one to dwell on anything or have much anxiety. She prefaced by asking that I promise not to tease her. I told her I never would. She took a deep breath and said “Momma, I think I have a crush on a boy.” I was immediately relieved, as I had been preparing for the worst, and assured her that I would never tease her for that. I then thought quickly, because I felt that what I said next would matter very much. This was one of those pivotal parenting moments where you are sure that your child will remember and take to heart whatever comes out of your mouth. No pressure!
I started by telling her that I was glad she felt she could talk to me about this and making sure she understood that always and forever, she can tell me about these things. She told me she was worried it was “weird” that she was only seven and had a crush on a boy. She asked me if I liked any boys at her age, which I did. We had a nice chat all about my first crush and I could see the relief flooding her face. She really was scared there was something wrong with her for feeling this way, which broke my heart a little. We talked for a while about the reasons she likes this boy and how at her age, she won’t “date” him but that they could certainly be friends. She seemed satisfied when we were done talking and our night continued on as usual.
It occurred to me afterward, when I was wondering why she was so worried, that maybe her friends had already gone to their parents with this kind of confession and had told her that they laughed at them or dismissed them. I think that might be easy to do if you don’t remember what it was like to be a little kid with a crush on someone. From our adult perspective, we can brush off a second-grader’s feelings for a classmate as no big deal but we need to remember that to them, it is. And really, it should be to us too. This is the first inkling they are having about a subject that will dominate much of their thought throughout adolescence and adulthood. This is a big deal and I feel like the way we handle this with our kids will matter down the line. Probably even more than we think.
I know this is only the beginning with counseling my children in their relationships but I hope I am off to a good start. It is not my parents’ fault but I hid my thoughts on these subjects as a child and was left to deal with a lot of it on my own. I felt like I couldn’t tell people and for whatever reason, I too was afraid of being teased. I am so grateful for my daughter’s open heart and willingness to tell me what’s on her mind. I hope it bodes well for the future when the “Mom, can I talk to you?” conversations are about much more serious subjects.