Last week, along with back to school concerns, Sheila, a single mom, contacted me about her 11-year-old son. She was distraught. Her 11-year-old was "in love." Sheila had not anticipated "love" happening with her son, and told me she had expected her 9-year-old daughter to fall head over heels in love, but not her son. Sheila also told me that her son was still engaging in all of his extracurricular activities and was very responsible with doing his assignments, and was a straight-A student. Her main concern was how she should deal with his ups and downs in love. She also questioned the "realness of Puppy Love." She wondered if she should have a man talk with him about his feelings or if she was capable to handle this as his mother.
Although many people would agree that they expect this sort of behavior with a daughter, they may forget their son can also fall in love. Every child has the potential and emotional development to fall in love, and usually when the child is younger than 14-years-old we call it "Puppy Love." Although puppy love isn't as intense or enduring as mature love, it is real, and how parents handle it can affect their child for years to come. Puppy love can turn into real love, but real love requires both people to be more mature and prepared and responsible for the consequences of love. Parents have an incredible opportunity to open the lines of communication, and experiencing puppy love can be an incredible learning situation for you and your child. In this case, Sheila's son is showing incredible maturity in treating how he feels with respect and remaining very responsible and involved with his school activities. That says a lot about how he has been parented. Boys want the same things girls want in a relationship at the age of eleven. He wants to be valued, to be special to someone, and he wants to show that he is independent and grown up. Eleven is too young to date, but it isn't too young to be in love. Love happens; it is not planned and once it happens, the wise parent uses it as a way of teaching and expanding their relationship with their child.
Parenting tips when your child falls in puppy love.
As for Sheila, "I think you are doing a great job at raising a sensitive boy who has the ability to love another." Give him a big hug and tell him you are proud of the way he is listening to and honoring his feelings as well as being sensitive to someone else's. -Mary Jo Rapini
Tags: Puppy Love, Parenting, Relationships, Adolescence, Emotions
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