Recently, my 9-year-old, Ella, told me she had a secret that she wanted to tell me and made me promise not to tell her dad. Her secret? She had a boyfriend. Panic immediately set in and I wondered how my baby could possibly have a boyfriend already. I was a complete mess inside, but I put on my “cool mom” act and started asking her questions to find out what was really going on.
To my relief, Ella’s so-called “boyfriend” was really just a boy in her class that she thought was super cute, super nice, and so A-MA-ZING. I tried to explain to her that a “crush” and a “boyfriend” are two different things, but she insisted they were the same. I let her win that argument. There’s no harm in that, right? The conversation went on and she eventually asked me about the first time I liked a boy. This question allowed me to share some fun secrets of my own and turned the conversation into a type of bonding, girl-talk session that connected us in a new kind of way.
I am certainly not an expert on the subject, but just in case there are other moms out there getting ready to face the exact same situation, here are a few tips I found helpful:
- Whatever you do, don’t overreact or freak out. Try to stay calm and take deep breaths.
- Allow your child to do most of the talking and keep your questions to a minimum. Try to ask open-ended questions that encourage conversation rather than short, one-word answers.
- Keep the conversation warm and friendly. This will help keep the door open for future conversations.
- Earn your child’s trust at an early age during these types of conversations. When they are older, they will feel more comfortable discussing tough matters with you.
- Treat your child with respect. They want to feel accepted and understood.