When Friendship Becomes More: Navigating First Crushes

When I started this blog, it didn’t even cross my mind to talk about love or crushes. As the years passed, I realized that there is so much more to talk about. I mean my kids have grown tremendously. Hello, Child4 is now 12 years old and Child1 is technically, an adult at 18.

So, when I was asked if I’m open to publish a guest post about First Crushes, I was excited to include that topic. Many of you who have been following me are now have big kids too right?

The article below was written by a children’s book writer, AJ Kormon. As an accountant, she started writing about money to explain the concept to her kids. As her kids got older, they showed signs of not wanting to read, so she enlisted their help creating a series for resistant readers. This is how the Halloway Hills Middle School Series were born. When AJ isn’t writing or cartooning, you’ll find her losing to her kids at UNO.

As a special treat too, AJ has agreed to giveaway a copy of the Halloway Hills Middle School Series (e-book form) to one lucky reader. Just follow the steps at the end of the post to enter. This is open to anyone in and outside of the US as long as you have an access to redeem the e-books. Giveaway ends on Nov. 12, 2021 11:59 pm EST.

Good luck!

(Note: This post contains affiliate links. While no extra costs to you, I get a small commission when you purchase something using the link. Thanks so much for your continued support.)

From a parental point of view, first crushes can be sweet, but when you’re the one experiencing a crush for the first time or having someone declare their feelings for you, it can be pretty scary. In Veering off on Valentine’s, the main character Jordan develops new feeling for her best friend Avery. She’s crushed (pun intended) when he gives a Valentine candy gram to another girl.

I’m not a relationship specialist, or a child psychologist, but I do remember what it is like to experience a first crush and have someone express their feelings for me. I did not handle either one of these experiences well, and I hope to improve my own kids’ experiences(and maybe those of your children) by sharing where I went wrong.

A Crush is Flattering and Normal

When I first realized I had a crush on my friend Gary in grade five, I hid my feelings and completely denied any allegations of the truth. Eventually, I became embarrassed by how I felt and there was no way I was going to talk about it, not even with my friends. They might have told Gary I liked him and I couldn’t have had that!

It’s important for kids to know their feelings matter. Having new or different feelings for someone isn’t something to be embarrassed about. Sandra Gordon, a health and medical writer, says “Crushes are a healthy part of life.” The pre-teen years can be confusing at the best of times with all the emotional and physical changes happening in our bodies at that age.

I was never great at dealing with flattery. In grade seven, a friend of mine signed his school photo as “Your friend or hopefully your boyfriend”. I freaked out ! I don’t know what to do and the only person I told was my best friend, who wasn’t much help since she was also a seventh grader. I hate admitting this now, but I ignored what my friend had said on the back of hi photo and carried on as if he hadn’t said anything.

This is the partly why I wrote Veering off on Valentine’s. Thankfully, my friend and I remained friends, but we didn’t talk about the photo incident until five years later. I wish, I handled things differently. So, in Veering off on Valentine’s, Avery makes a point of talking to Jordan about her crush on him.

One way we can encourage this type of dialogue between kids is to model it at home. By starting conversations about crushes now, conversations about dating later on will be that much easier to initiate.

A Crush Shouldn’t be Trivialized

It is important to talk with your kids in a way they understand. Saying things like “Oh, it’s just a crush,” or “You will grow out of it,” aren’t helpful. These are big feeling for your kids. Give them the attention they deserve by validating their feelings. Maybe you can share a story about your first crush. I know I’ll be sharing what I did as well as what I think I could have done better. It’s important for kids to know that we were kids once too. Being a kid is tough!

If I could go back in time, I’d tell my grade five self, “So what if Gary knows that you like him? He’s a nice boy. He deserves to know that.” My nine-year-old recently told me that his friend told him a girl in his class likes him. We talked about how that made him feel. We also talked about how we receive information and how rumors get started, since he was hearing this second hand.

And of course, if I could go back to grade seven, I’d tell my friend how flattered I was he thought of me in that way, but that I just wasn’t ready for a boyfriend. I’d also say that I hoped that we could still be friends rather than ignoring what he wrote on the photo he’d given me. Somehow in my grade seven brain, I thought being someone’s boyfriend meant you couldn’t be their friend anymore. I’m so grateful he remained my friend anyway.

Talking about feelings and relationships can be so hard, especially if that’s something that wasn’t done in your family of origin. But as the parent, it’s our job to let our kids know they can come to us with anything. Recognize a crush is a normal part of life and encourage your child to talk about it. I find sharing a favorite snack together is a great setting to start a conversation.

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