The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article tween dating. I struggle with that concept since I won’t let my kids date and here’s an application that any young suitor for either of my teenage daughters would have to fill out first. But I digress… some findings:
Nearly half of 11- to 14-year-olds say they have been in a dating relationship, according to a 2008 survey of 1,043 tweens by Tru, a Chicago youth market-research firm, for Liz Claiborne. A larger share—60%—think parents should let middle-schoolers date, according to a recent online poll of 787 users by Yoursphere, a social-networking website for tweens and teens.
But "dating" in middle school doesn’t mean what many adults think. Tween couples talk mostly via text and chat. Their relationships are fleeting but all-consuming. They date in packs—but expect their boyfriends and girlfriends to be monogamous. And they keep their parents largely in the dark.
A disappointing finding that WSJ referenced from a study commissioned by Liz Claiborne is how many tweens say oral sex and intercourse are a part of tween relationships:
More than 1 in 4 tweens say oral sex and intercourse are part of tween relationships, the Liz Claiborne survey found. That doesn’t mean 1 in 4 tweens are engaging in those behaviors, however. Respondents were answering a question about dating behavior in general at that age, rather than their own conduct.
While I wouldn’t recommend tween dating, tweens as they enter puberty become increasingly more interested in the opposite sex. Kara Powell of Fuller Youth Institute says that this can be a springboard for conversation with your tween:
What do you like about this person?
What concerns do you have about this person?
What advice would you give a friend who was interested in this person?
How does dating this person fit with what you think God’s picture for your life is?
So its good to stay engaged with our kids. In the meantime I’ll keep my application handy.