Letting Your Kid Hang Out With the Opposite Sex Is Dangerous

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We have the distinct (and noisy) pleasure of living across from a school and last week, we passed one of Girl Child’s former classmates sitting outside. She squealed when she spotted him because, even though they’ve kept up on Facebook and Twitter, they haven’t laid eyes on each other since the fourth grade. The little reunion was cute, so I left her to talk to him outside while I went in and started dinner. After about an hour, she threw some pennies at the screen door to get my attention.

“Umm, can Demani come in?” she asked. I scowled. Umm, Demani is a guy, I thought. I’m always a little wary of boy/girl friendships at this age. You know how quickly attractions can come up in the tween and teen set and next thing you know, that just-a-friend kid that was schlepping around the house has been promoted to boyfriend, and that requires a whole new set of rules. I’d rather not be bothered from the giddy up.

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All that wasn’t going to happen in a 30-minute visit with the boy sitting right there in my living room, of course. I just didn’t want to set the precedent.

It’s not that I don’t believe in platonic relationships. I do. I have a guy bestie who I have never, ever, not never been the least bit attracted to (sorry Jamal. It’s the truth. Not even a little bit, dear). But at that age, when hormones make you develop crushes on your woodshop teacher and your chemistry partner all in the same year, it’s almost guaranteed to become smitten with someone of the opposite sex when you start spending a lot of time together.  

Kids that age have a hard time sorting through those amorous emotions — is it like? is it love? is it just thinking he or she is really, really hot? — and all that hanging out together just complicates things.

And, at the risk of sounding like the old fogie I swore up and down I would never sound like, this generation is supercharged when it comes to sexuality. What’s standard protocol in high school now is stuff I didn’t get around to doing until I was well into my 20s. (Then again, I was a little late out the gate when it came to having someone actually wanting to take me down, so that could’ve just been me.) So why stoke the fire that’s already burning hot and heavy?

I guess it just boils down to how well you know your child and getting to know the friend they want to bring into the fold. And there’s another tricky element. I have a homie whose daughter recently shared that she’s bisexual. That then becomes a whole other ball of concerns in the lovers and friends department. So to squelch any hot moves on either side of the gender line, the new rule in that house is quite simple: she can have people over, but no one in the bedroom and certainly no closed doors. It’s an understandable precaution.

As for me and mine, Girl Child is a little too impressionable and follow-the-leader to make me feel comfortable with her hanging out with a dude, even when I’m around — especially since, even though I comb through her email and infiltrate her Twitter direct messages — I don’t want to green light any behavior until I can be sure she’s mature enough to control it. I’m afraid I might miss the snowball before it rolls all the way down the hill.

Do you let your kids hang out with friends of the opposite sex?

Image via Scarleth White/Flickr

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