It happened again. A well-meaning friend who hasn’t seen my son in years attempted to make small talk. The very first question he asked was, “Do you have a girlfriend?” My son is in second grade.
This has happened so many times, mostly with relatives we don’t see often.
It first started when my boys were in preschool and kindergarten. It continued through elementary school.
Oddly, it happens less with my teenagers.
However, my younger kids are still fair game, even though they’re in still in elementary school. Relatives we haven’t seen in awhile will ask them about their dating life.
Stop asking my kids if they have a girlfriend or boyfriend
I always think, “Seriously, can you really not think of anything else to ask my kids?”
Questions to ask kids when you don’t know what to say
Here are some easy things to ask children. They won’t embarrass the child or be a conversation killer like the girlfriend/boyfriend topic always is.
- What is your teacher’s name?
- What do you like about your teacher?
- Do you have PE, music and art in school? Which do you like best?
- What book are you reading?
- What kinds of books do you like to read?
- Do you like where you sit in class?
- What do you like to do when you’re not in school?
- Do you have any hobbies and interests?
Note about asking about the kids’ hobbies. Like asking if they have a girlfriend or boyfriend, this is a loaded question. It makes assumes that kids should have X in their life.
Therefore, don’t ask what sports he/she plays. This is another typical question well-meaning people ask. Everyone isn’t into sports. By asking if they have any interests or hobbies, it’s more open-ended. They can tell you all about the sports teams they are on or anything else such as dance, theater, etc.
Asking about kid’s love life
Somehow this subject came up with an adult couple who are friends of mine. I explained my angst about this and how it drives me crazy when people ask my kids if they have a girlfriend/boyfriend.
They said this never happened to them even though their twins just finished third grade.
Literally, one week later, that very same mom texted me to say a relative asked her kids this question. Her and her hubby shared knowing glances and mutual internal laughs. She texted me as soon as she could to LOL with me.
Of course, adults are just trying to be friendly. They are probably really trying to connect with your child and make conversation.
It’s just unfortunate when adults attempt a discussion about something kids can’t contribute to or build on. You will mostly likely get a “no” for an answer, and the conversation will just fizzle out.
Let kids be kids while they can
When children are in elementary school, especially in the younger grades, most of them aren’t liking each other in a romantic way.
Why even bring this up?
These kids are running around at recess with the opposite gender, thinking nothing of it.
Maybe a boy sits with all girls at lunch. Who cares?
Why do we have to talk about all the girls he likes?
Yes, he probably does like them, as friends.
Calling them “his girlfriends” or whatever must be confusing to kids.
Kids gravitate toward other kids for whatever reason. It most likely isn’t romantic.
Be glad your child can blend seamlessly between genders. He knows how to get along with others. He sees the kids — no matter their gender — as his peers, as his friends.
There are plenty of girl-boy best friends. She doesn’t have to be a tomboy, and he doesn’t have to “like” her.
Can’t they just be whatever it is they are? Do parents have to pick it apart and dissect it? Do they need to discuss it with others?
Certainly, they don’t need to post about it on Facebook.
And what if, as your child gets older, he or she doesn’t follow the traditional boy likes girl or girl likes boy dynamic? What if your son likes boys or your daughter is interested in girls?
When random adults ask about children’s dating lives, it’s awkward for everyone.
Placing too much importance on crushes
Really, who cares if kids have a girlfriend or a boyfriend?
The fact that adults discuss this at all can easily lead kids to believe girl-boy relationships are important.
You know what’s important? Children going to school to learn how to get along with others.
Kids learning how to follow school and classroom rules. We want our kids to learn how to handle many different situations, independent from us.
Our kids are there to learn as much as possible while they’re in school. Why cloud it by hyping up romances and crushes?
All of this liking and going out and dating will happen soon enough when these kids are old enough.
Everyone will know about whatever relationships are going on much faster than when us parents grew up.
Whether or not they have a girlfriend or boyfriend shouldn’t be a top priority unless your child brings it up or you sense there is something to discuss. But only you, the caregiver, should do this in a way that won’t embarrass him/her.