I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry when my 4-year-old told me he had a girlfriend. I thought, “How cute.” Then I thought, “How do you even know what a “girlfriend” is?” I figured he wasn’t serious, but he repeated it over and over again.
My 4-year-old is certainly too young to be in a relationship. I told him that he wasn’t allowed to have a girlfriend, but that just seemed to egg him on. Knowing that he was horrifying me made him even more insistent. It soon became clear that his only intention with his “girlfriend” was to give her that label. But why?
Part of growing up is imitating your parents, and I guess that is what K is attempting to do. He knows that girls and boys date, and his interest in acquiring a girlfriend is just a manifestation of imitation.
That got me to thinking, well what else about relationships will he imitate? When he sees his dad and I kiss, will he try to imitate that? Does that mean that all kissing in front of the kiddie should stop?
My son is certainly not “dating.” He seems to display no interests in his “girlfriend” from a romantic standpoint. Half the time he’s ready for her to go home because he gets tired of her company. He truly treats her like just a friend, but I notice she does have sway with him. He gets to play with his toys when no one else does. I guess he’s learning early how to make a woman happy.
I was compelled to do some research on the topic. Needless to say, most psychologists focus on teen dating. But I did come across one great point – “love (is) the most powerful and heartfelt of human emotions.”
I think my son is following his instinct to show love for a partner, and that seems like a very good thing. So I no longer make such a fuss about my son having a girlfriend at the mere age of 4.
Dating at 4 should not be encouraged, but if it happens I think it’s okay. As kids get a bit older, about 8-11, they start being curious about the opposite sex and body parts. That’s probably the age when dating should be prevented. Depending upon your child, her maturity level, and your personal beliefs – kids should not begin dating until at least 15 or 16. But it seems to be happening younger and younger.
In my day, many of the popular girls in my fifth grade class had boyfriends. By 7th grade a few kids were having sex and getting pregnant. Dating is certainly a serious issue that can have serious consequences. But at 4 and 5 years old it is still just innocent and cute.