Valentine's Day could increase the pressure for your tween girl to pursue romance, but is she ready? Many "experts" are quick to offer support for any girl hoping to ride the boy-crazy train. Consider this "advice" from a popular author who doesn't want tween girls to struggle with the basics:
"The simplest and least embarrassing way to flirt is just to make eye contact with a special someone. Then hold the look for around two seconds. (That's an eternity in flirt time.) Going too much longer turns it into a staring contest, which is sort of weird, and NOT flirting anymore."
While a little flirting may seem innocent, it can be a small step toward big changes in your daughter's life. Statistics reveal that one of the top five factors that lead to a teen girl's early sexual debut is being in a dating relationship for six months or longer. It stands to reason that a tween who flirts or obsesses over boys is more likely to be in such a relationship in her early teens.
Your tween girl will find a plethora of Valentine's Day advice that could cause her to rush into romance. Here's how to slow it all down.
Be positive about romance
Positive messages are more potent than negative ones. Don't boycott boys. Rather, introduce romance to her in terms that offer restraint. A favorite book in our house was The Princess and the Kiss by Jennie Bishop, which told the story of a princess who was saving her kiss for one special guy.
Ask questions that help her see the boy situation more clearly
For tweens, questions often shape values better than statements. When you hear about a new pair who are "going out," don't freak out. Ask questions like, "Where are they going to go?" "Do you think this is helping them to be better friends?" (Usually it is just awkward.) "What is the goal of this relationship?" Asking these kinds of questions makes your daughter think, and I find that little girls are good thinkers.
Establish dating standards early
I'm amazed at the perplexed moms who e-mail me, frustrated that their sixth-grader is "going out" with a boy. So I ask them, "When did you tell her she couldn't?" Take time when she's 8, 9 or 10 — whenever you see her or her friends noticing boys — to talk about when she can have a boyfriend.
Don't take all of the joy out of Valentine's Day
Yes, many girls go off course with Valentine's Day, but it can be appreciated in a healthy way, too. In our house, we spent our fair share on cards and chocolates, but we focused on family love and God's love. It's through understanding God's love that a young woman will one day find and commit to a man who is actually good for her, a man who treasures her and puts her needs before his own. So use every opportunity to talk about God's love for her. No one will ever love her like He does.