0:00:02 – Speaker 1
Welcome to the nextTalk podcast, where we share real stories and practical advice for parenting the digital world.
0:00:09 – Speaker 2
We’re your hosts, Mandy and Kim. Mandy is an award-winning author and the founder of nextTalk, and I’m the director of nextTalk, a nonprofit organization created to strengthen families through open communication. You can check out all of our resources at nextTalk.org.
0:00:24 – Speaker 1
We’re your wives, moms and friends, tackling culturally relevant topics from a Christian perspective. We’re sharing what we’ve learned and where we’ve failed. We’re so glad you’re here for this conversation.
0:00:37 – Speaker 2
Okay, so you and I have been talking about crushes forever, you know, as we’ve thought about things and topics and nextTalk, and as my kids have gotten older and yours. But I have noticed something in the last couple years when I talked to moms, you know, and as we interact with people at events or just in our everyday life, that I feel like when we used to talk about it was a lot more innocent And I just feel like now it’s kind of elevated, it’s a little bit different, and so I really wanted to talk about crushes and kids and how serious it really is and cover some ideas that maybe would help with conversations with families.
0:01:16 – Speaker 1
Well, and I think with everything that we’re seeing, it’s happening younger and younger. So I mean, i remember with my kids you know crushes, middle school we started talking about it. now It’s like second grade. We got to tackle the subject now.
0:01:31 – Speaker 2
For real, like I’m not joking. I remember my third grader coming home and saying they’re talking about crushes And I was like what, okay, let’s dig in here, and so for sure it’s again. With all the things our kids are exposed to, all the things they’re watching and hearing and conversations that they’re having, everything we have to talk about is getting pushed back to younger and younger, and we can’t ignore it. We can’t brush it under the rug and we can’t just go with what we used to do. I mean that feels safer and more comfortable, for sure, but we can’t do that because our kids are seeing and hearing things younger, so we have to tackle it.
I think one of the most important things is defining what it means, and this is where I kind of messed up And I was talking about it. I was still like in old school crush world of like, oh, it’s just where you like someone a little bit more than the other people and you want to spend more time with them, and so it was very vague And I didn’t really take it that seriously And because of that it was confusing. It was confusing in my house what it meant to have a crush, because it could mean that could apply for you and me. Mandy, i like you more than other people.
0:02:42 – Speaker 1
I’m a girl crushing on you, Kim. I’m girl crushing.
0:02:44 – Speaker 2
And so then it’s like I’m really messing up my kids’ heads because I haven’t defined what it means to have a crush a boy on a girl, a girl on a boy and that it means more than just liking that person a little bit more, especially with all the stuff that my kids were seeing.
The more that we dug into the conversation and trying to define it, I realized it was important to be much more detailed. So someone that’s extra special, that’s different than the other girls and boys, that you’re attracted to them, also physically and or mentally. Maybe you love something about their character like really getting into the details of what that means, And you think about them more, You want to spend time with them And it helps your kids to understand that this is kind of on that path towards the conversation about marriage. You know, over here at the 10 of marriage It starts with the curiosity and the crushes and you have to walk them step by step down that path. But it has to be detailed, It can’t be vague And, like I said, that’s kind of where I messed up on this conversation.
0:03:51 – Speaker 1
Well, i think too, it’s such an opportunity to plant some seeds, you know, and just normalize their little feelings. So you know, if you have a boy and he’s like this girl is so cute at school, what a great opportunity for you to say honey, it’s so natural that you notice That’s how God created you And that’s what God says. Marriage is between a man and a woman. So, like you’re planting a seed, right, you’re planting a seed for that for the years down the road. But you’re engaging in this conversation and you’re normalizing it And I love what you said.
One of the things that I would always say to my kids is what do you find special about this person Like? what do you like? And you know, oftentimes kids will be like they’re cute, they’re whatever. You know, those surface level things. I would always push them deeper. I would say how do they treat others? How do they treat the teacher? You know, what are some good qualities? Are they really smart? Do they engage in good conversation? You know, are they good at math? Are they good at English? You know, just engaging on a different level, because it’s natural for that physical attraction and that’s great. But we also want to teach our kids to go deeper, like it’s way more than just that surface level crush.
0:05:07 – Speaker 2
Well, yeah, because, again, if we’re walking them towards that goal of understanding what kind of person they want to be married towards, this is really cool to get to start that conversation when they’re young so that they begin to see like I’m really looking for someone that loves Jesus, or someone that is patient and kind, or someone that loves sports, you know, whatever it is, they start to form that image in their mind and that starts small in this process of the crushes. And it’s a fun conversation, you know, if you allow for it to happen with your kids and you ask those deeper questions beyond the you know they have cute pigtails, kind of a thing.
0:05:43 – Speaker 1
Well, the one thing I want to note here. I mean, i think this show is like you’re kind of the expert here, kim, because your kids are younger and this is happening younger and younger. So I feel like a lot of this has shifted for me. You know, it’s a little different. But one thing that I can contribute here is, you know, you said look for someone who loves Jesus. You know, when you are talking about the list of qualities And I remember doing that with my kids, just talking about negotiables and non-negotiables and that sort of thing And this idea of loving Jesus as your kids get older, i will attest to this.
This is a very deep conversation, because a lot of people call themselves Christians but they may not treat people the way that Jesus did, or they may not act like Jesus did. So, for example, you may be, you know, your kid may be dating a Christian, but this person is trying to have sex with your kid, you know. And so red flags, red flags, you know. Oh, that’s so true. So somebody who says they love Jesus should be respecting your body and respecting your boundaries and actually helping protect them because they care that much about you. And so, as we’re talking about these layers. It starts out simple, like you said love Jesus. That’s what you can say with your elementary kids, that it you know like look for somebody who loves Jesus. But as they get older it changes and evolves And there’s so many different layers to that conversation.
0:07:11 – Speaker 2
I love this topic because it really is a perfect example of creating a culture of communication in your home and starting at young how it’s age appropriate and it’s planting those seeds and it’s starting those conversations when they’re little so that it’s not shocking or unnatural when they’re older, because you’ve already started these types of conversations about things that become difficult topics. You know the older that they get deeper and more detailed. So this is a great one to start when your kids are young And you have to, like we said, because it is happening younger Now. Let’s say your kid tells you they have a crush. Let’s move in that direction, they say, or they say someone is crushing on them.
I think it’s important to have a conversation about boundaries, like what does that mean? What does it mean I will do and what does it mean I won’t do? Because there are physical aspects of once they start liking each other or maybe they’re attracted to each other. Maybe is there going to be hand holding or is there going to be anything beyond that, or is this more of just a feeling, recognizing their emotions and their hormones? What does that mean and what do I do with those things? That’s really important to talk with your kid about that.
0:08:22 – Speaker 1
Even before you can get into that boundary conversation, you need to define what it is, you know, because kids will be like we’re talking, we’re dating, we’re going out, like they use all these different. What does that mean, honey? Does that mean at games, you’re going to hook up and sit next to each other on the bleachers and talk, or does that mean like we’re picking her up for the movies and we’re going all to the movies, right, and I’m going to set eight rows back Like what does this mean? And so being able to define what it is, and so sometimes it’s just a crush, like I’m just going to be over here and I’m going to think they’re cute and that’s all that’s going to happen here. But then sometimes I think also, like in this whole, we’re talking to each other’s base. What I find oftentimes is that the boys are like chill talking and the girls are like picking out their wedding gowns for like 10 years, you know, and I don’t need to be sexist here, but I see this a lot.
And then we get I really see it, okay. So where I saw this the most was middle school dances. This is what would happen A boy would invite a girl to middle school dance, right, and the expectation there in the girls mind is he’s going to dance with me, we’re going to be on a date, he’s going to bring me a flower, right. Well, the boy shows up and wants to just hang with his friends, or the girl shows up and just wants to hang with her friends, and then the other party is like Christ, the whole middle school dance because they’re like now my date is ignoring me, and so it’s again. It’s like let’s define what we’re doing here and then defining, like, the expectations, and then that whole boundaries conversation that you just mentioned, like I think it’s almost like a three part conversation. you know, define expectation and then boundaries.
0:10:14 – Speaker 2
Well, and that’s why I was saying you know, you have to define what a crush is and you have to talk to your kids about what that means and what it doesn’t mean, because every family could be different And I think, like to your point, every kid is different, so you might have that kid that’s like. This is what a crush means to me, and the other person in the crush feels totally different, and so all of these conversations are so important, and it’s so. I guess the part that really tripped me up is I always thought, like crush just meant one thing and so I didn’t give it the attention it deserved. And what I’m seeing now with these kids at younger ages, it means something different, and so it is important to dig into there and define it, develop it, talk about the boundaries and the clear expectations, so everybody kind of knows what’s going on and there’s as little hurt feelings as possible, because we know how hormones are at this age.
0:11:09 – Speaker 1
Well, and you got to be careful, like defining it. If you’re just like, oh, this is a special person that you like and a kid goes to school and they’re crushing on 15 girls, i mean, your son can develop a player reputation real fast and then we got a whole situation on our hands, right. So again, these you’re. You’re so right in the sense of oh, it seems so simple, this is so cute, but what you’re saying is we can’t miss this moment. There’s so many layers of good conversation here in all these different avenues, and this applies to anything, anything, not just crushes, but I think this is a perfect example.
0:11:48 – Speaker 2
A couple more things that I think are helpful. As you’re talking through crushes, it’s important to think about the bandwagon mentality especially. I’ve seen this a lot in like third, fourth grade with the kids. They’ll just all be having crushes because everybody’s doing it, and so you might hear your kid come home and say that and it may be more just about well, this is what all my friends are doing, so I’m doing it, and they have no idea what it means. And so that’s good too, because then you can start the conversation. What do you think it means and what are your friends saying, and why did you choose this person to have your crush, even if you don’t know what it means? and so that bandwagon mentality is is big and important to recognize. If you think that’s what’s going on in your kids class, you can tell from the conversations too and what they say if they’re really crushing on someone.
0:12:36 – Speaker 1
Well, and we have a couple shows. We did a bandwagon mentality show and then we did a show called Influenced This whole bandwagon thing. Anytime you see your kid jumping on the bandwagon with anything, stop and have a conversation, because this is important, because if they’re going to get pulled into this, then they’re going to get pulled into that, then they’re going to get pulled into that. And so they need to be able to easily notice when they’re highly influenced by the people around them And sometimes you will be pointing this out to them and they may not see it for a little bit, and then eventually they’re. You know, the prayer is that they will start seeing it in themselves and then, as they mature and they’re going to be like, oh my gosh, i am very highly influenced, because some kids are and they need to be able to recognize that That’s like a maturing thing.
0:13:23 – Speaker 2
When I think that’s such a good. It’s almost like a great thing to happen, to see it play out when they’re young, because then it gives you that chance to start teaching them how to recognize it before things get really big and really hard and can cause big long-term issues. And so don’t think of it as a bad thing. Think of it as an opportunity to speak into that bandwagon mentality and how they can start to see it in themselves and work through it, you know, and not jump on the bandwagon. You know another thing a good conversation that we’ve had in regards to this is priorities And crushing in the sense of just I like this person and we’re going to have some good conversations, you know, mom or dad and I, about what I’m looking for and boundaries and all of that. That’s cool, that’s a good thing. But if your kid’s version of crushing their, their definition of it is much more involved and it becomes a really big distraction Again, that’s another great opportunity to talk to your kid about priorities.
You know at this age in their life what’s most important. Maybe they’re an athlete, maybe they’re an artist, maybe you know they’re very involved in student, government and that and family and their time maybe in their church youth group. This is another great layer of conversations about what’s most important in the season of your life and where does this fit in, and what’s a healthy balance, and so all of these again out of that small conversation about crushes that develop into dating, that develop into, you know, marriage eventually. So it’s a good thing to dig into these topics.
0:14:56 – Speaker 1
Well, the priorities conversation, too, is one that I’ve seen play out over the years, and it’s good because you can say you know you’ve got so many years, kim, with your kids. You can say you’re not even in high school yet You know you’ve got. You’ve got high school even to look forward to. You don’t have to rush this. You don’t have to rush this because everybody’s doing it. You know, one thing that I have seen play out over years of parenting in this space is the emotional energy that’s caught up in these younger crushes that move into. We’re talking and we’re kind of dating, even though they’re not going on dates, you know and then the drama that comes with that and and then there’s a blow up and all this stuff. You see this play out with their friends, and I always use that as a, as a is a teachable moment to say this is what I’m trying to say to you like are you ready for that? and you’ve got all this time and right now, why don’t you focus on your grades or, like you said, your hobby that you love, whatever it is that you’re doing, pour yourself into that, get a little bit more mature and older, and then you can start going down this road and maybe then it’ll be less drama because you’ll both be more mature, because you’re going to see these things play out and they explode and some of them get crazy.
I’m a crazy little kid And you don’t want to bash them, you don’t. You don’t want to be judgmental or be mean about it, but just say, man, that’s a lot that your friend is dealing with, like, that’s a lot of stuff. Can we learn from that? You know, mom learns from that all the time. I have friends that do stuff and I learned, oh, i probably shouldn’t do that, that wasn’t the right way. And so it’s just being an observer and saying I don’t know that, i’m ready for that yet.
0:16:47 – Speaker 2
Yeah, i love that. That’s so good. I just think, as we’ve said, in this moment of recognizing a crush and having these conversations with your kids, all these different layers can be mixed in there And good teachable moments. I would advise against one thing normalizing versus minimizing. We want to normalize things, like you said in the beginning of the show. We want to say it’s normal for you son to be attracted to a girl. Like that’s God designed you that way. We want to normalize things and that’s good, but that requires thought and more detail.
When we minimize it, the answer would be something like oh yeah, crushes are normal And so it doesn’t give the detail that kids need, i think, to feel heard and understood and to shift into that space where you get to have these other conversations. When we just say like, oh yeah, everybody has a crush or oh, that’s so cute, it’s really sweet. Now, what do you want for dinner? That’s minimizing it And I think a lot of times we do that when our kids are young or we don’t think it’s a big deal. But if we take a minute to shift into normalizing and then digging into some of these deeper topics, i think it’s a really good space to connect with our kids and help them learn through the process of something like a crush to play devil’s advocate to Kim.
0:18:03 – Speaker 1
You also don’t want to beat him over the head with it. You know what I mean. Like they definitely don’t want to minimize it And I think you’re spot on there. But at the same point, you know your kid confides in you. Whatever. You cannot talk about it every night for five nights in a row Like that. Oh gosh, no, we’re talking like hit on these points and move on. You know you’re. You’re on the way to school. I had a mom stop me the other day and she said we have like a 15 minute drive to school and I always bring up big topics then because my son knows there’s an exit strategy, like we can only talk about this for so long. And she said it’s great, like I never do it at night because then I feel like he’s going to feel stuck there for an hour And it can be, accountable to, to be like get in, say what I need to say and remove myself Right, and we don’t want to nag it to death.
So that’s the other part. Again, it’s that pendulum swing. You know you don’t want to minimize, but you don’t want to be crazy about it either to where they don’t want to talk to you about it or you make it weird. The other thing, too, is I would be, you know, in this conversation. We’re talking about conversations that come up because of this.
Pushy people, like that is something that I always talk to my kids about being aware of pushy people And what I mean by that. You’ve heard it said aggressive girls or, you know, pushy boys, whatever, but but people in general, if they’re pushing you into a space that you’re not comfortable with and you feel pushed into it, which I mean like hand holding, kissing, touching that you’re not ready for And there’s been no conversation around it as far as what are we doing here? How are we defining our relationship and what are our boundaries in this relationship? That’s a red flag, like Let’s talk about this first, about our expectations and that sort of thing. The other thing, too, is you know you’re in goal here Now. Here I am, you know, with a young adult child. Now, keep in mind, you’re in goal here. Your end goal is for them to be in a healthy relationship with someone and they’re not telling you everything Because that’s what their relationship is right, like they don’t need to tell me everything. But we need to have the kind of relationship, by the time they’re adults, that if a red flag happens in the in the relationship or something happens that feels like I don’t know if this is normal, that they will call you or text you and say talk me through this, is this right? And so you’re gonna get to practice with them from when they’re little to when they leave your home with this process and Even as they get older like I would even say in high school. You know, before they’re adults, there’s this natural progression of them kind of separating from you a bit and growing up a little bit.
Even in high school, some of the conversations surrounding relationships won’t be as detailed about their feelings, but it’ll be more like hey, if something weird is going on that you’re feeling we are weird, or you’re feeling pushed by this person Into a space you’re not ready for, that’s something we need to talk about, but you don’t have to tell me every little detail. You know what I mean. Like you need to wean them off as far as what they’re telling you. For your middle schooler They may come home in the first time. They hold their precious hand. You know they’re telling you about it because that’s really sweet and that’s really cool.
In high school They’re not gonna do that because they’re holding hands every day and they’re past that state and like they don’t need to be telling you that right, and So that’s what I mean by like weaning off. And your end goal is to get them into adulthood and have a healthy relationship And they don’t have to tell you everything. But if there’s a problem or a red flag or something that just doesn’t feel quite right, they’ll get on the phone with you and be like tell me, what do you think about this?
0:21:46 – Speaker 2
Yes, and so the cool thing is by not dismissing when they’re young and digging into these conversations and talking to them about How do I feel about this, how do I define this, what are my expectations, what are my boundaries? when you’re in all the details, when you’re you’re they’re young, think of it as like I’m teaching them how to do this for themselves. And so that’s exactly the goal you in everything when they’re young, so that they can begin to do it themselves in high school. And then it’s just, you know, maybe a 50, 50 there, and then, as they leave the nest, they’ve got to be able to function on their own and walk themselves through that process, like you’re saying. And so that’s why it’s so Important, with these things that seem little like a crush Conversation, to dig in there when they’re little, because it does teach them how to do it on their own when it becomes a marriage conversation or a Important relationship conversation and that is the goal teach them how to fly on their own.
0:22:42 – Speaker 1
Well, as you were talking, kim, all I envisioned was training wheels. You are in the training wheels phases of crushes right now. And guess what, when you have training wheels and your kids are learning, though, to ride a bike with training wheels, you’re right there, you have the helmet on, you’re not leaving their side because they’re new at this, right. But once the training wheels come off and they learn to fly on their own, then you give them a little bit of space, you’re not next to them all the time. You let them go, they may fall, they may mess up, they may have to get back up right, and so it’s that weaning process and it’s like with everything. But I think you’re right.
So many times We just don’t even want to put the training wheels on, we don’t want to teach how to ride the bike, we just are like that’s too expensive, we can’t afford it, we’re not doing Because it’s happening too fast, right, but, but you’re right it. We miss so many moments and so many good conversations When we don’t dig in or we minimize or just roll our eyes. Oh, that’s so sweet, it’s such a cute little crush. Thank you so much for joining us, listening and sharing our podcast. Because of you. This show is in the top five percent of over two point nine million Podcasts we have lots of resources for you, from counseling to live events.
0:24:02 – Speaker 2
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0:24:10 – Speaker 1
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0:24:24 – Speaker 2
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