While my mom did a wonderful job recognizing and validating emotions in certain childhood situations, in this one, she was doing what a lot of mothers of her generation did. Some might call it Americans’ tendency to overreact or underreact, or both, to kid crushes, and it’s part of our cultural inheritance. But Bonnie J. Rough, author of “Beyond Birds and Bees: Bringing Home a New Message to Our Kids About Sex, Love, and Equality,” wants to change the way we approach kid crushes.
A few years ago, Rough had the chance to closely observe third-grade classrooms in the Netherlands. There, she found that teachers impart a number of important lessons about love — including familial love, the love of friendship and pets, and also the feeling of being in love. Dutch teachers let kids know “that this is a valid and expected feeling for people of any age to have, normalizing the idea that anyone can feel love and romance,” Rough says.
She also observed that, in general, Dutch parents seemed more open and accepting of bodies, sexuality and love than their American counterparts.