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My 11 year old girl started year 7 she struggled with finding friends and fitting in had rumors being said the lot she handled things well and I discreetly let the school know she’s struggling a bit. There’s so much nasty comments or fake friends between the girls, her self confidence has been knocked down, she plays on a xbox with a few people from school. Recently a boy whom she knows from school had one his friends join that’s same age different school. Now that boy from the other school and her are dating the kid lives near us and I've seen messages saying "love you" and stuff like that. I've spoken to my daughter about boys and all that stuff and I’m not happy she decided to date a boy she’s never seen she thinks it great because this boy likes her without seeing what she looks like. The boy has quite a hard life himself eg disabled parent social services having to look after his siblings. I asked my daughter to be friends with this person but I’d prefer that when she started dating it would be with someone she knows. I also messaged the boy explaining they could be friends on Xbox but that’s it after a few days I felt like she understood but he sent her a load of crying emojis and begging and she agreed. I’m really worried because she suffers with confidence issues and she’s so desperate for a boyfriend because all people at school have one she hasn’t lied to me before but she tried to about this boy. How can I make her understand this boy she’s never met isn't a good idea? It’s more worrying that he lives near enough for them to meet. She’s so pretty I don’t understand why she thinks she’s not worthy. I've taken away the Xbox today due to fact she lied to but what do I do in long term.

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    "How can I make her understand this boy she’s never met isn't a good idea? It’s more worrying that he lives near enough for them to meet." I feel like maybe you have the solution to the problem right here, but the real roadblock you're facing is that you don't want your daughter dating. – Ian MacDonald Feb 12 at 15:16
  • I think I’d be happier if it was a friendship first or they’ve met and friend's before relationship started or even if it wasn’t after a few hours of playing Xbox. And I’m slightly worried she’s going to just go along with dating this boy to fit in with other girls. When she said about them being mares he sent her load 😭 and said stuff till she said ok we will still date, I’m just worried but thanks for advice after all that’s what I was after – Claire Feb 12 at 16:46
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From personal experience, when I went to the elementary school I got bullied a lot because I didn't fit in. High school was little better for me. But thanks to online gaming I came into contact with people like me.

I met my best friend 14 years ago online, and in 4 months I will be there for her wedding. And I can personally not imagine a life without her as my best friend. And besides her, I met several other people who have become close friends to me over the years.

So I think you are going the wrong way with this. You said you are worried that she is dating somebody she has never met before, and that he lives close by... well have them meet? Talk to the boy's parents and arrange something where she can spend time with him but where you are able to keep an eye on her from a distance. (If parents support a relationship kids often lose interest in it faster.) Like let the two of them see a movie together while you go shopping in the same mall.

Why? Because apparently she doesn't have any connection with the people currently around her. If you take away the people she does have a connection with she will end up socially isolated (which is a cause for a lot of early set depressions). And in the long run she will resent you for that, but if you support her she will love you for it. Just make some clear and reasonable boundaries and it will be fine.

And most importantly, lighten up. They are 11, they aren't ready for a relationship and as long as the new and shiny wears off they will probably end it themselves in a few weeks and be friends. If you are going to forbid it, you are making it exciting for them and giving them another reason to stay together.

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  • I’m just worried she thinks to be happier she needs a boy any boy that shows her interest, this is the first one they played together online for few hours and decided without seeing each other to start dating, and wanting to meet up. Some messages from the boy say I’m worried you won’t like me when you see what I look like, love you, social services around at the min ect. I’m just scared of doing the wrong thing – Claire Feb 12 at 15:45
  • Thankyou for the advice – Claire Feb 12 at 16:47
  • It's ok if they meet each other, just make sure it is in a controlled environment (a public place not the boys home) and at that age that you are nearby (offer to drive her for example) it's better that she does have contact and you are able to keep an eye on it then if she does it behind your back. – A.bakker Feb 12 at 17:27
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Your challenge here seems to be in striking the balance between managing your relationship to your child and catering to their safety and well being, which I expect will be an increasingly common topic as your child is slowly turning into an adolescent.

There is always a risk in getting involved with someone you've never met. It sounds like you're fairly certain that this person is who they claim they are, so that's perhaps one obstacle out of the way. I think parents should be vigilant of - and talk to their kids about - online child grooming, for instance, but if you have reason to trust the identity of the person they're interacting with, bringing it up in that instance may be more damaging than protective.

If the boy was significantly older, I would be very concerned, as the two would likely have very different ideas and expectations of a relationship, and he would be in a mental and physical position of power. If they're both 11-ish, I don't see that this is very different from if she had been dating someone from her school. At that age, I'm expecting relationships to be very intense, and rather brief.

It seems that she's struggling with in real life relationships, in which case it could simply be that online is a more suitable conduit for her to engage with other people. Perhaps she has an easier time expressing herself in writing. Perhaps she is so self-conscious that she has a hard time relaxing and being herself when she is also being physically observed. Seen through that lens, it seems to be great that she's found an environment where she can better cater to her social needs, I would endorse that.

I would recommend that you facilitate their meeting in a safe space, to have your concerns with the fact that they've never met out of the way. My personal view is that expecting that if she should date it should be with someone she knows to be a big ask. I would expect the novelty of the relationship is what makes it exciting, and that emotions will cool off as soon as they do get to know each other.

I share your view that 11 is too young to be dating, but as your children grow older, you'll need to realize that you no longer have actual control over whether they'll do something - only (at best) over whether you'll be privy to the fact that they did.

It's OK to say you disapprove, and explain what your concerns are. If you can express your concerns in a way that clearly communicates that you have seen and accommodated your child's needs, and still end up in this decision, there's a chance you can earn your child's trust. If you confiscate her xbox, you'll have a much harder time convincing her that your opinion on the matter takes her interests into account; you're just making yourself an obstacle to be overcome.

You can say "You're not allowed to date". You could also say "I'm really not happy about the idea of you dating yet, but if you decide that's what you're gonna do, make sure to let me know when and where, OK? And know that you can always call me if anything goes awry. Remember that it is always OK to leave."

I would say in both scenarios, there's a roughly equal chance that your daughter will date. Both scenarios communicate your view, which she may eventually value. In the former scenario, however, if she does go on a date, it'll be behind your back, and there'll always be a risk that if something does go wrong, she'll think keeping you from finding out that she's lied is more important than keeping herself safe.

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There's a few issues here.

1) Your daughter being bullied at school. That needs to be stopped. I don't know where you are, what your schools are like, or what options are available. In my experience, the attitude of education professionals varies greatly, so I can't foresee what response you will get (or have already gotten.)

2) You daughter's lack of confidence. There can be reasons for this, it can also be a child's nature. Unfortunately it makes the bullying a big problem. Naturally you should be building her up at very opportunity. Perhaps look at getting her involved in activities that she enjoys and is good at, and organisations that promote well-being and self-respect.

3) Dating. This is often a cultural thing, and will vary from country to country. You'll also get a wide variety of advice on the subject. Personally, none of my kids were allowed to date when they were children, and my daughters all thanked me for it when they were older. (NB: One daughter recently married her school-hood sweetheart but they never dated during school.) Your daughter is seeking affirmation through this process. Having a boy like you can be a great confidence boost for an unconfident girl. Unfortunately there are numerous pitfalls. Such relationships never last, and can turn nasty. Being dumped will hurt her confidence. If you're not comfortable wit it, I suggest you simply impose a blanket ban on "dating".

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