My tween daughter still rolls her eyes at boys. To her, boys are like bugs - annoying and pesky. In a few years she'll see boys in a completely different light, but for now I don't always mind that she keeps them at arm's length.
As parents, we prompt our little girls to be kind and patient with rambunctious boys. Then a few years later when they actually like boys, we realize that though we still want them to be nice, we don't want our daughters throwing themselves at boys, either. They should still be nice - just not that nice.
Boys are a different breed than girls. Ultimately, they'll be our daughters' friends, crushes, husbands and the source of plenty of drama along the way. What are some tips that parents can share with their girls about boys?
Boys have feelings, too
Beneath their silly or tough-guy exteriors, boys are every bit as vulnerable as girls. It helps for girls to understand that boys' maturity levels don't coincide with their own. For example, at age 10, boys are generally very emotional. At ages 14 and 15, they're hitting their growth spurts and often feel awkward. The physical and emotional changes they experience don't correlate to the ages that girls' bodies change.
Explain to your daughter that boys often feel every bit as sensitive and self-conscious as she does. They just show (or hide) their emotions in different ways. If she has to turn down a boy for a dance, teach your daughter that kindness is always best. Don't laugh about him behind his back. Don't torment him. Teach your daughter to be kind and respectful of boys' feelings.
Boys are very attracted to girls
Sometimes I wonder just how forcefully parents of girls drive home this all-important point: By a certain age, boys are powerfully attracted to girls. Teach your daughter that this is natural - after all, it's the way our bodies were created. Physical attraction between a man and woman leads to the formation of life (cute babies and families).
For now, though, we don't want our tweens and teens to have babies. We'd rather they not even practice having babies. So, we can teach our daughters (and sons) to have standards. We can encourage our girls to dress modestly. And we can teach them how to get out of uncomfortable situations and to say no.
You don't have to marry every boy you're friends with
At some point, our little girl realizes that the goofy boy in her class is a pretty nice kid. Girls eventually branch out to form friendships with boys, but sometimes it takes some coaching.
For example, my tween daughter dismisses every boy she meets. With barely a thought, she declines all requests from boys on her social media site. Boys are still pests - they don't rank as friend material yet. Some girls fear that befriending a boy means roses and diamond rings, and they don't want to be teased. I try to teach my daughter that this is dumb. She's missing out on lots of potential friends by automatically dismissing all the boys in her life.
Likewise, some teen girls are so anxious to find "the one" that they confuse friendship and love. Teach your daughter that talking to or hanging out with a guy is healthy. It doesn't have to lead to a romantic liaison or wedding announcements.
As we clear up our girls' misconceptions about boys and teach them the basics on interacting with the opposite sex (Boys 101), they'll be more likely to form healthy relationships with boys at every stage of their lives.