Boyfriends and 5-year-olds

November 10, 2011

When AB (who is 5) came out of her classroom the other day telling me that she had a boyfriend, I was completely unprepared.

A million thoughts ran through me head, many of them conflicting. Voices of feminism, mama bear, teen girl, conservative ma’am and perfect parenting books.

AB is outgoing and kind, so I suspect she will be very driven by and influence by her social relationships with her peers. Part of  me was pretty impressed that a couple of weeks into school she had a ‘special’ friend.

Part of me was really nervous. What sort of ‘talk’ should I have with her about this? Did I need to talk to her about body safety?* What does having a ‘boyfriend’ at 5 really mean anyway?

On the way out I saw her new ‘boyfriend’ who was, I dunno, 8? She ran over to him, he gave her a cuddle and sent her on her way. Much like a big brother would. Despite his friends mocking him slightly, he was perfectly happy to wave to her when she yelled out: ‘Bye-bye boyfriend!’ in a ‘Bafran-kind-of-way’.

I instantly liked him.

Clearly he was a senior who had some kind of mentor-type relationship with new entrants.

‘It’s all fun and games, ey boys?’ I said. And when the small gaggle of kids laughed I relaxed.

I’ve decided to head towards the ‘we all have many boyfriends and girlfriends’ approach. I’ll let her know that I have many boyfriends, (boys I care about) and girlfriends (girls I care about), thus bringing together ‘caring about’ and ‘liking people’ into a similar category. Rather than the “OOOoooo, you have a BOYfriend!!” reaction which I think puts unnecessary and confusing pressure on kids.

The next day she came home and informed me that she now had a different boyfriend.

Crisis averted. For now.


* Apparently, teachers have told Anabelle ‘no kissing’ and ‘no licking’. Two excellent rules.


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