2. Parents have a responsibility to offset the message society is sending . There is an abundance of shows featuring children in romantic relationships at a very young age. It's hard to avoid them totally; even Ariel, the Little Mermaid, was 16 when she married Prince Eric. Tween shows from iCarly to Wizards of Waverly Place feature kids dealing with relationship issues. Unless you keep blinders on them, your kids can't help but see the sex-driven commercials aimed at their parents. Heck, my 10-year-old was fascinated by the Royal Wedding. And then there's 19-year-old "role model" Miley Cyrus' engagement. Young people see relationships and romance everywhere, but seeing romance on TV doesn't prepare kids for the reality of it. As a parent, I feel like it's my responsibility to limit my children's exposure to situations they just aren't ready for.
3. Kids get habituated to romantic behaviors learned too young. One of my childhood friends got her first kiss in the fifth grade, with a crowd of kids cheering her and her boyfriend on. I was a late bloomer and didn't get mine until much, much later, at a time when a kiss was no big deal to my early-blooming friend. I want holding hands to be a big deal for my daughter when she's 16 — not something that she's been doing with her mini-boyfriends for so long that it's boring. The longer hand-holding and smooching remain exciting, the better the chances that she'll be content with those appropriate activities and the longer it'll be before she's interested in putting herself into more sexual situations.
4. It's hard to change the PDA rules when kids hit puberty. I've heard a lot of parents laugh about their kids' playground romances and remark on the cute factor of the mini PDAs. "They're young," they say. "It's innocent." Yes, it is innocent and there's a sweetness to it — now. But when you tell a child that romantic behavior is okay, it's hard to backtrack. If you let a child snuggle with her boyfriend while watching a movie at 8 years old, she's gonna be confused and resentful when it's suddenly not okay at 11.
What are your thoughts on children having mini-relationships at a really young age? Do you think they're cute and harmless, or is your perspective a bit more cautious, like mine?