How should I talk about boy vs. girl feelings with my child?

Q: My 7-year-old girl came home and told me that a boy in her classroom said he liked her. How should I respond to my daughter so that she won't be concerned too much about boy and girl love?

A: Parenting doesn’t come in the nice neat stages that books suggest, does it? We often have to handle things with our kids sooner than we thought we would. But relationships -- and values in general -- are things to talk about on an ongoing basis because complicated and important things are best learned in pieces over time. Here are some tips.

Discuss your values and beliefs. Figure out exactly what values and lessons you want your child to know about relationships. If you don’t consider your values, how can you teach them actively and purposefully? Your child won’t be able to figure them out. On an ongoing basis, at a level that she understands, talk about your beliefs and what is important in relationships.

Find examples to teach. When you see relationship situations on TV, in movies, etc., use these examples as opportunities for open discussion. Taking time to discuss them will help with things that happen in your child’s life.

Walk the walk; don’t just talk the talk. Make sure the relationships that you are in set an example of how people should treat each other. This can be very difficult, but if your relationships don’t reflect a good example, you can’t expect your child to do better than you.

Answered by Dr. Wayne Fleisig

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