In general, white children in rural settings, Hispanics, and Asian-Americans date later than African-Americans and white children in urban areas, says Brad Brown, professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Changes in the American family are leading preteens to assume adult roles earlier.With the rise in the number of single-parent and dual-income families, youths are more likely to care for siblings and cook meals.
More often, it is driven by a desire by youths to boost their status, appear mature, or flaunt their "coolness" before friends and family.
Grant, for example, told everyone on his block last spring that he was taking Laurie to the ice-cream parlor. He was saying, 'I'm the first boy in my class to go out on a date, and I'm going with a really cute girl,'" says Grant's mother, who sat in the car during the rendezvous.
Grant "gets very irate when he can't watch it," she says.
(The real names of the children have been withheld at their parents' request.)Still, preteen dating is usually not classic courtship involving significant romantic feelings or sexual activity, experts say.
Parents should focus on other areas of competency for girls," she says.
Experts offer parents the following advice about early dating:*Don't push the timetable by encouraging dating among preteens."Our data suggest that kids fantasize about it but actually spend very little time with the opposite sex one-on-one," says Maryse Richards, professor of psychology at Loyola University in Chicago.Sometimes, however, dating can become a preoccupation for youths - and a concern for parents.Although not inherently harmful, early dating can put youths at risk for drug use, promiscuity, and other delinquent behavior, experts say.They advise parents not to push the timetable, but to try to understand why a child wants to date and respond with appropriate guidance and limits.Here are eleven things — not the only eleven things, and not even really addressing sex itself — I would like my 10 year old son to know about relationships and dating and girls, some of them now, some of them eventually: 1. There will be people — girls especially, I suspect — who will like you more than you like them. Your life is yours, and the right person will want to partner with you, to share with you, but will also value you for being a separate and individual person — both in friendships and in romantic relationships. When breaking up with a girlfriend (or anyone, for that matter), .