“And you, boy, do you have a girlfriend yet?” . This and similar questions are often asked of children without any malicious intent, and perhaps even to please or amuse. But personally I have never liked them, and as I become more aware of the connotations they carry, I like them even less.
I would like to share with you my thoughts on this topic, and why I don’t like acquaintances and strangers asking my children if they have a girlfriend/boyfriend .
Boys and girls with boyfriends, seriously?
As I have started by saying, perhaps because of the fact of entertaining the child or of seeking a rapprochement with him, some people ask these types of questions without thinking about the implicit message that they are giving to the minor .
My eldest son , who is now ten years old, has been asking this question for a long time, both friends and relatives and strangers who cross our path at some point and believe they have the freedom and “grace” to ask something like this , leaving my child with a stupefied face.
But my six-year-old daughter has also been the subject of these questions, and I know that although they are jokes said without any bad intentions, I admit that I am not quite used to them.
“Come on, tell me, I won’t tell anyone, do you already have a girlfriend?” . This is usually one of the most popular questions to break the ice and get my child to laugh or start a conversation. There is also another one that has been done to him on some occasion and that stirs me inside, and it is “How many girlfriends do you have?” (as if it were a collection of stickers!)
The tone and way of formulating the question to my daughter changes with respect to her brother, since her beauty and the message of “how easy it will be for her to find a boyfriend” are extolled: “As beautiful as you are, I’m sure you won’t suitors will be lacking . ”
- The first and fundamental is because children are children, and as such they must have their minds set on playing, having fun, imagining, creating and sharing leisure time with friends . Courtship (as we adults understand it) will come in the future, when they consider it , and not when the people around insist.
- Secondly, because although childhood infatuation exists , it is not as we understand it, since it lacks the connotations and characteristics that we give to adult love relationships. Therefore, it makes no sense to ask a child a question and a situation that he will not understand or see with the same eyes as us.
- On the other hand, and in line with the previous point and the different ways that adults and children have of understanding love and courtship, my following reflection would come: what would happen if a child who was asked this question answered with a “yes I have a girlfriend/boyfriend”? What face would the adult have? What question would come next? Would he follow us by looking just as funny, or maybe then we would tell him that he’s not old enough for such things “? In which case, wouldn’t our reaction be totally incongruous being a subject that we have addressed?
- Fourthly, because by asking my son if he has a girlfriend and my daughter if she has a boyfriend, the sexual orientation of each one is being assumed , and that is something that no one should take for granted, because only they will be the ones who decide when the time comes .
- Fifthly, because asking that question from such an early age makes children see that having a boyfriend/girlfriend is a goal to which they should aspire . But, what if the concept of boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t fit among your preferences for leisure and relationships in childhood? How could they feel if that long-awaited couple that people ask them about does not arrive?
- Sixthly, because when physical beauty is associated with having a boyfriend or girlfriend ( “you are very handsome or beautiful, therefore you will already have a girlfriend or boyfriend” ) two messages are sent to the child: the first, that his purpose of life should be to like another person, and the second that others will only notice him or her if he or she is handsome, a characteristic that, by the way, is something completely subjective.
- And last but not least, I think that the question in question is part of a person’s intimacy , and I’m sure that when we were single (or if we are now) we didn’t like that this topic become the center of conversations between acquaintances and strangers. Well, if that’s the case, why are we giving the example to a child of asking another person about his intimacy when maybe he doesn’t feel like talking about it?
And there is even more, because if that boy or girl we asked really had a boyfriend/girlfriend, why do we want to force them to recognize it and turn their feelings into the object of criticism, ridicule, the center of attention or judgments?