Editor's note: Our Moms Council, headed by Alysa Sakkas and Eva Wong, got together and discussed at what age is it OK for a teen, or 'tween, to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Here is Eva Wong's quandary on how to deal with teenagers' intimate relationship?
When is the most appropriate age for teenagers to explore the intimate relationship phase of their lives? And how close should they be?
I never thought I needed to deal with this topic so soon, or so late. I came from a culture, or shall I say, a generation, where we were told not to start any relationship until after high school or later; and when we eventually had one, we were supposed to walk down the aisle with it.
Three years ago when my daughter was 11, she told me she had a boyfriend—I almost fell off my chair.
Of course, in front of her, I remained calm, but secretly I searched frantically for all the articles I could find on teenagers’ relationships.
Before I could get a grip on what to do, my daughter announced that the relationship was not worth it; she would much rather be with her friends.
That was the last I had to deal with teenage relationships until just recently. Now my 15-year-old son declares he is in a relationship with a girl, one year older than him, from another high school.
I understand that 15 is an age when a kid’s imagination and curiosity runs wild. But are they really intellectually mature enough? Or is it just a phase in life that they need to go through, ready or not?
I am not sure about other teenage boys, but I look at my son, and being an over-worried mom, I see a physically developed (or almost fully developed) adult body with an underdeveloped (in my son's case) child's brain attached to it.
My son is a late boomer. He still likes to cuddle with his stuffed animals. Is he thinking that a girlfriend is a living stuffed animal?
My constant fear is whether he can tell the difference between true emotion and physical instinct.
On the other hand, I understand at this stage, parents alone cannot provide the kind, or different kind, of love that a child is seeking.
He needs to connect to other social aspects of his life. He's learning to become his own man.
The lingering question is just if he's ready? Will he be better off waiting? What about instant gratification? Or delayed gratification?
I also wonder how intimate they really are. They hold hands with one another.
Have they tried their first kiss? Or more? Do they know what it means?
Are they ready for the consequences? Or is this something that they must go through, mistake or not?
Can I really play a role to help them through?
Just sign me,
Totally Confused Mom.