How to handle your teenager’s crush
Events in recent times have raised the question among Nigerians whether a teenager can fall in love. Some people say it is possible while some think that it is not possible. The girl has to be older to experience the love of the member of the opposite sex, be able to express her feelings and to date.
Unfortunately, it is not true love that the child feels, it is called a crush; she imagines that she is in love. But her heart is not in it, as it is only a figment of the imagination that may be nourished when she sees that object of her attention all the time. She thinks she is in love because she sees older girls who date and hear them discussing about it. Sometimes, she may be the go-between in her sister and her boyfriend’s relationship, taking messages and being the bearer of their love notes.
But a crush is a natural development for a girl who is growing both in body and mind. And with the encouragement of her friends, who are passing through the same phase, she may try to actualize this dream by pursuing the male of her dream; she may be the initiator or easy prey depending on if the male in question is aware that she is in love with him and wants to take advantage of the situation.
Deep down though, she may keep her dreams to herself so the ‘love’ fizzles and dies harmlessly. “Who has not passed through that stage?”, observes a woman. “I still remember our junior secondary school class when a handsome young member of the National Youth Service Corp came to our school and upset the cart. We were all smitten but Ifeanyi thought her love was stronger than ours.
However, a parent ought to know and show interest when your baby is taken to the point of being taken advantage of, and worse, made pregnant in her teens.
I grew up in Lagos but under strict rules at home. Therefore, I found it strange when I heard that small girls had boyfriends when I was growing up. I remember one case still, today. I was at the balcony of our home one day with a friend, suddenly, she pointed at a man who was passing by and laughingly said: ‘That’s Tola’s boyfriend.”
Tola was not the girl’s name, but the girl in question was a beautiful girl who had a lovely an uncommon name, so she was loved by all. Every morning, the then 10 year-old girl would dress in her cream and pink uniform, white socks and brown sandals-she was always neat with everything changed daily and washed by a maid. Tola who had a bright and beautiful smile went to a top private school nearby.
The boyfriend in question was a civil servant and their neighbor in the next flat in his early thirties. If my friend knew about the affair, chances were that the mother knew too, I thought, shocked.
Did she think it would just go away?
But it is not so easy to go away. That affair would end one day, one way or the other; the girl becoming bored or the male in question having had enough of what he wanted. But it would not be easy for the youth who have her life to be so invaded. That is the sad truth about taking a child’s immature love so far; once she has started, it is difficult to end and she may continue to fall in and out of love as it pleases her.
In the past, mothers were did not have much knowledge as you have now so they taught abstention to safeguard them from harm. Abstention is still the key. Research has opened up causes and prevention of diseases of the reproductive system. Tell them what early sexual activity could do to immature organs. Cancer disease of any type is scary enough.
Love letter is a necessary tool of crush; he may have written only once or he writes regularly but she may be prolific as she pours out her ‘heart’ but she is in love with love itself. With a boy her age, the exchange of letters or text messages is enough.
Girls still write love letters, get close to her and show this same amount of interest in the male concerned to see that nothing happens. Once, I saw a young man brought a girl home. He made his interest known to the girl’s mother. But quickly, the mother told him that it was not possible, she was still in the secondary school and must go for further studies, she told him humorously. But all of us saw that she meant it.
Our forebears gave the girl much work to do when they had to leave her at home alone. The teen was not expected to finish the numerous tasks; the trick was to occupy the hands with no time to dream of love.