When it comes to dealing with girls, 10 year old boys can be dumb. I can make that statement because at one time I was one and I hung out with many more of them. They really have no idea what they’re saying or how their words are being received by a sensitive little 10 year old girl who is suddenly all about body image. Eventually, they will grow up to be young men who will say things that are hurtful without even realizing it. They’re clueless. The scary thing is, along with my two daughters, in a few years, I’ll have one of THOSE running around the house as well.
It’s not for lack of trying mind you. Many times we walk away from a conversation with a female all proud of ourselves internally convinced we nailed it. Meanwhile the girl has walked away thinking “what an idiot.” We mean well mind you; but no clue.
Part of the problem is we don’t listen. We really don’t. Even when we’re listening, we’re not listening.
And so it stands that the other night after an argument with my 10 year old daughter, I decided it was time to just listen.
I will tell you point blank; I do not envy our youth. I would not want to be 10 years old today. The issues they’re facing are the same ones we didn’t face until we were well into our teens and it’s scary to think that these sensitive little minds are having to cope with body issues and maturity issues they shouldn’t even be exposed to for another 3-4 years. But they are and so here we are as parents, needing all the more to just listen.
My ex-wife told me that her perception is that our 10 year old doesn’t feel heard. And I think she nailed it. As soon as I just sat and listened for 90 minutes it was like a whole new little girl emerged. She became a chatter box and I heard all about the challenges this little person deals with on a daily basis and they have nothing to do with long division or geography. Those are a cake walk compared to the social anxiety forced upon 4th graders today. If you’ve seen the movie “Mean Girls,” imagine the same thing in elementary school because that’s exactly what my daughter described.
So what’s a parent to do? You know I think the answer is relatively simple. Just be there to listen. You can let them know that people typically have no idea that they’re hurting your feelings when they do, especially 10 year old boys. You can also reassure them that it’s not worth their energy to try to keep up with the prissy little rich girl who sticks her nose up in the air at everything everyone else does. But really, just let them be heard in a non-judgemental way.
Internally, recognize that their anxiety is real. They may be 6 or 8 or 10, but their emotions are heavy and the world is already being mean to them. They need your support any way they can get it. And that little 5 year old boy sitting next to them in the car? He needs to see the affects of the words he’s going to be saying in a few years if not already. And we need to take the time to point it out to him. The whole “boys will be boys” excuse is bunk. But that’s a whole other topic.
You know, we get so wrapped up in our own concerns that it becomes very easy to just brush off a little kid’s ‘worries.’ I’ve done it. I’m sure you have too at some point. But tomorrow they’re going to be 15 and it’s going to be too late. They’ll have been bombarded with hateful words and actions for far too long for you to just walk in and fix it. The need to counter the negativity in their lives needs to start now. And sometimes that’s just the simple act of walking away from Facebook for 30 minutes and listening to your daughter talk about boys saying mean things.