Wright Words: Are third-graders too young to date?

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  • bellsandbells Columbia, MO
    Oct. 18, 2013 10:56 a.m.

    I don't get worried about the word 'date' or 'boyfriend' because I know that it may mean walking together down the hallway to class everyday. But, I was teaching 5th grade and we had some very immature 5th graders in our school. It was more like teaching 4th grade. I was shocked when parents were planning a real 'date and dance' for the kids. I think they had a misguided idea that they were teaching social skills but the environment for the whole event was too much out of their maturity level. It gave the kids the idea that they were socially out of it if they did not participate. It encouraged much more mature relationships than they were ready for. I see nothing wrong with teaching them to dance or the polite way to ask someone to dance, etc. but that was NOT the direction of this 'date and dance'.

  • John20000 Cedar Hills, UT
    Oct. 17, 2013 2:48 p.m.

    When my kids play with kids that have similar family rules there is very little I worry about. When my kids play with kids that have different or no family rules I worry much more. Letting kids be kids means to me that kids don't grow up prematurely, not the opposite.

    Oct. 16, 2013 1:20 p.m.

    Here's my take on this: in the 65+ years of experience since early childhood, things haven't really changed all that much. True, we do have more openness and accessibility to prurient stimuli nowadays. But it was there threescore years ago just the same, and parents had to deal with children who were exposed. I'll spare the agony of details, but my friends and I had to learn to deal with it through numerous circumstances that could have been a disaster for any one of us.
    The key is--we all had good parents who sensed when we needed help to understand virtue from vice and taught us well--from childhood up until we were adult enough to control ourselves.
    Data that demonstrates increased problems indeed has to be considered. But parents who face the issue directly in a wise, kind, but firm manner will find the way.

  • Maureen Fepuleai New Zealand, 00
    Oct. 16, 2013 12:00 p.m.

    Going to play with my friend when I was a child was called "going to play with my friend". :-)

  • Abbygirl East Carbon, UT
    Oct. 16, 2013 9:24 a.m.

    Am I just old?? Am I out of touch?? I am shocked! Grade schoolers dating? The world has gone mad! Enough said!

  • southern son SHARPSBURG, MD
    Oct. 16, 2013 7:46 a.m.

    Well stated article,and very much in agreement...(though I must admit to having my first gun at 10,but was trained to shoot and in gun safety at the NRA.)

  • happytobehere Fillmore, Utah
    Oct. 15, 2013 5:26 p.m.

    My 80+ year old dad was talking about his date to a party in 6th grade. I asked him if he really dated that young, and he indicated that they dated all the time even in 5th grade (take the girl out, one-on-one). I know that was another time, and I love the 16 year old LDS standard. But I also wonder if kids today end up lacking in the social skills that they need in order to date and actually get MARRIED one day. I think the society of 70 years ago might do some of our kids some good.

  • MaxxFordham OREM, UT
    Oct. 15, 2013 3:54 p.m.

    Just 3rd grade, huh? Ahh, that's nothin'! Heck, in Spanish Fork, *I* already had a little crush or two by the time I was in *first* grade, or even KINDERGARTEN!

    Mike Christensen

  • ulvegaard Medical Lake, Washington
    Oct. 15, 2013 3:03 p.m.

    A couple of generations ago this type of "dating" was no big deal. But as one reader put it, perhaps in today's society we have reason to be more cautious about using the word "date" in connection with innocent play time.

    In our home, my children sometimes talk about growing up and getting married and having kids -- and we always stress it in that order: Marriage and then children. Sometimes wording and word order can be key.

    When I was in elementary school I played with girls quite often, but we certainly didn't call it a date. In today's society so many are anxious to press kids into adult roles; like all of the kiddie beauty pageant stuff. Statistics demonstrate quite adequately that the earlier youth start in to dating, the quicker full blow intimacy results.

    And so in our home, no, 'dating' is not a vocabulary word for my children until they are at least sixteen.

  • keyboarder College Station, TX
    Oct. 15, 2013 12:41 p.m.

    Wright says "we should be careful not to judge or apply a standard across all kids." I understand what he's getting at... that we shouldn't point fingers at individuals.

    But otherwise I can't disagree more! Our society, both inside and outside Mormon culture, already applies standards "accross all kids". All sorts of age standards are applied to everyone and they usually serve a reasonable, useful purpose in society. Consider 18 years of age: That's essentially a universal standard in the States (and world?) when youth officially become adults. Certainly, there are kids that mature faster or slower, but there is no need to question the overall practice.

    Likewise, 16 years is already a dating standard set in the LDS Church. I don’t feel even a little judgmental in saying that that is a great age to set as a universal standard for dating, even for those not members of the LDS Church. Setting a societal standard is not "passing judgment". We don’t need to point fingers when we see something different, but enforcing the standard in our own families and encouraging peers to follow suite would help to save our kids and keep them happy.

  • Scott H Ogden, UT
    Oct. 15, 2013 12:40 p.m.

    There were kids that had "boyfriends" or "girlfriends" when I was in third grade many years ago. And, yeah, everyone knew that they were hanging out together on the playground. Hearts were quickly broken. Some of us more backward types secretly admired those that had the guts to actually speak with or pass a note to the person on whom they had a crush.

    But as far as I am aware, all of that stopped at the edge of the school grounds. There were no parents lining up dates for their primary schoolers.

    Today we live in an era of parents that want to be their child's best friend. They want to act like a peer rather than fulfilling their parental role. Not long ago I watched mothers drop their junior high aged sons and daughters off at a RAVE. Some of these kids were 'dressed' in tight little pieces of clothing that barely covered what little essentials they had. Apparently with their parents' approval. As if that is the way to ensure that your child has a happy and successful life.

  • Fern RL LAYTON, UT
    Oct. 15, 2013 10:48 a.m.

    I have heard young moms talk about taking their kids to each other's house for "play dates" and I always presumed it was innocent enough, but maybe using the word "date" is a bad idea when, at some point, you will want the same kids to refrain from "dating" (and possibly "hanging out") until age 16. In any case, it seems like certain behavioral issues need to be discussed with the children at very young ages, because if they don't understand the reasons for the rules, they might rebel against them before they grow into their adult brains.

  • ? SLC, UT
    Oct. 15, 2013 10:44 a.m.

    Kids will repeat or mimic what they see and hear those older than they are doing. I remember being in 3rd grade listening to other classmates talking about whether or not they wanted to have children when they were older based on comments and observations made from their parents or others older than them. When teens or adults are speaking among themselves, kids are listening, observing and then sometimes doing what they see and hear whether or not they are old enough to be doing those things.

  • awsomeron1 Oahu, HI
    Oct. 15, 2013 10:31 a.m.

    I do not think there is anything to worry about at that age. It is just mostly good social interaction. Let kids be kids.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    Oct. 15, 2013 9:54 a.m.

    Silly question----is 12 too young to drink beer? Gosh, are you serious?

  • Brent T. Aurora CO Aurora, CO
    Oct. 15, 2013 9:12 a.m.

    It was the statistics being quoted that were surprising. Only 16% of teens having sex by age 15 up to just 61% by age 18? Not to misunderstand, that may be encouraging and the numbers ought to 0% till adulthood and marriage. But the perception, mostly among teens themselves, with what they see/hear in shows and movies such as Glee (and really most any show with teen actors and "teen" issues) or that we read about in sociology texts discussing "hooking up" as a middle school culture, is that there is something strange and odd about not having sex in high school where it seems to be a rite of passage. Certainly if you asked 15 year-olds what they think this statistic is, the reply will skew many times higher than 16%. The pressure and expectation is much higher.

  • dtday2003 Rabat, Morocco, 00
    Oct. 15, 2013 7:19 a.m.

    My oldest son was always a charmer. In Kindergarten and 1st grade he had a "girlfriend." That consisted of sitting by them during circle time or on the bus. Once he got in trouble for kissing his little girlfriend. I didn't get all riled up about it. I talked to the mom of the girl and both of us told our kids that wasn't appropriate at their age and that was the end of it. By 2nd grade girls were ickie and now, in 6th grade, they are starting to get cute again. However, cute from a distance. I'm so glad. However, he knows, as do all the kids, that there is no dating until 16, so don't even try to ask. And so far, so good.