Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Monday, November 29, 2010

Hartley-Brewer, E. (2010). First Crush: When Your Tween Begins to Show Interest in the Opposite Sex. Scholastic Parent and Child, 18(3), 89-89. Retrieved November 29, 2010, from Education Research Complete.

In this brief article, Hartley-Brewer provides practical advice on 'tweens and their developing interest in the opposite sex. It is only natural, at this age, that boys and girls are starting to develop feeling for one another. As their bodies are changing, their brains are starting to transition from the "boys are icky" stage to "OMG! He is so hot!"

Altough 'tweens may not be developing sexual feelings for the opposite sex, Hartely-Brewer considers these "feeling" as harmless infatuations that 'tweens should actually be allowed to have. Although parents are terrified of the fact that their child is growing up, they need to allow their child to develop these social skills to find their place amongst their peers: "His future relationships will be more balanced if you allow these early, safe forays into real or fanciful "dating" to happen naturally"(p. 89). What the author emphasis is that we need to communicate with 'tweens about these feelings and how their idea of a relationship will evolve as they get older; in other words,  these "romantic" relationships are about social status and tend to consist mainly of hand-holding and friendly text messaging. It's not a bad idea, however, to explain that quality relationships are about enjoying time together—not primarily about sex—and finding someone who's right for you can take years" (p.89).

With this knowledge, and the fact that 'tween girls are going out of  their minds for the Jonas brother, it is only natural for them to react this way. However, what concerns me the most, is when this harmless infatuation becomes a full blown obsession that can get nasty. Moreover, especially among girls, the cattiness  has evolved so much that young girls are literally threatening one another over someone, or something, that is beyond unattainable. I guess my argument for this article is where do we, as parents, librarians, and mentors, draw the line and pop the bubble they live in. Although we should allow our 'tweens to have their fantasies, we need to take a proactive step to making sure they are not developing behaviors that will cause them emotional and social stress in the future.

As 'tweens librarians, we can help young girls with quality books and programs that will not only teach them confidence and self worth, but self control as well. I know series like "The Clique," "The A-List" and the "Private" series are highly entertaining, we need to provide alternative to balance the fluff with quality literature that will help girls suffering from self esteem and identity issues to move away from issues and make them feel better. For boys, we can do the same by providing literature that will not only guide them through their own issues, but make them feel recognized and important. Falling head over heels in love can be the greatest and worst thing to anyone, especially a vulnerable 'tween who thinks that one person will make their dream come true at the age of 12.

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Deborah Takahashi
Pasadena, CA, United States
My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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