Too young to flirt

Joey Garcia

I have twins, a boy and a girl, who are in the fourth grade. I am concerned about my son because the girls in his class are very aggressive in their pursuit of him. They have written him love letters that are detailed and inappropriate. They call him at home daily (even several times a night), even though he refuses to talk to any of them. They have invited my son and daughter to events where my son discovers that he is the only boy present. (This only happened twice; now he refuses their invitations.) I have asked him if he likes any of these girls. He rolls his eyes and is very clear that he does not. He says he does not want a girlfriend. My daughter does not get this kind of attention from boys, nor does she want it. I want my children to be children. They seem to want this, too. How do I protect my son from the girls in his class?

By investing him with values and ethics that strengthen his resolve to become a young man of character. Values feed our actions. Ethics reminds us what is right and what is wrong. Begin this education by teaching your son that the letters he has received are not love letters; they are crush letters. Love grows slowly over time. It requires that two people know each other well and respectfully offer truth, trust and commitment to each other. Love does not involve manipulation. It does not make someone into the object of competition, nor does love insist on its own way.

A crush is the stepparent of infatuation (not love). It is harmless unless your son’s reputation is compromised by, for example, rumors created and spread by the spurned girls. Your son also could feel forced (by peer pressure) to act in ways that please these girls. This generally leads to regret. His choice to maintain his boundaries and avoid the girls is healthy.

Support him by alerting his teacher to the situation. She or he is your ally. It’s also imperative that you speak to the parents of this posse of girls. Let them know what you have observed about their daughters’ behavior and share excerpts from the letters. Ask for their cooperation in helping their daughters understand how to be friends. Don’t hesitate to contact these other parents. Remember, you are not only a mother to your twins, but also a role model and parent to all the other children in the world.

My daughter is a beautiful second-grader. Her teacher recently informed me that my daughter flirts and pays too much attention to the boys in her class. How canI put a stop to this now before it gets worse?

With adults, flirting can be either playful, harmless fun or a pathetic attempt to secure validation (or sex). With children, flirting is problematic because it often involves the imitation of sexualized behavior that is mimicked but not understood. So, your concern is justified. Without intervention, it’s possible that your daughter will flirt with older schoolmates, a scenario that must not be encouraged, for obvious reasons.

So, let’s examine the situation from the root. Your daughter desires more male attention. Does she have a father (or father figure) who is active in her life? That is important for her right now. Be certain to instruct the male adults in your family to compliment your daughter on her abilities, not on her appearance. You should do this, too. Also, encourage her participation in sports, chess, science camp or community service—any activity that focuses on the development and value of her brain, physical strength and responsibility to others.

Meditation of the week
“Have no fear of perfection,” said the artist Salvador Dali. “You’ll never reach it.” What a relief! With that absolution, you are free to take the wild risks necessary to become the astonishing spiritual beauty you are meant to be. Can you give up your fear of not being perfect and instead choose to always be free?

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