Dear Mouthy Housewives,
Our daughter is a bright, outgoing 5-year-old who attends preschool at our church. She has a best friend named Sarah. For six months or so, our daughter has been telling us that she’s going to marry Sarah. We’ve just gone with it, telling her that she can marry whoever she wants when she’s grown up. She has concocted all kinds of plans for the two of them, from going on a date to get ice cream to getting married and kissing.
My husband and I want our daughter to be herself and have no desire to change or judge her. But I am wondering how much to make of her feelings toward Sarah. Part of me thinks that she sees relationships as a series of stages, and if she’s friends with Sarah and she loves her, then of course they’ll get married. The other part of me wonders if she will always love girls/women, which is fine; I just want to be encouraging and to protect her.
What do you think? Can you predict a child’s sexual orientation based on their first serious crush? And is there anything I should be doing that I’m not?
Cool but Confused
Dear Cool but Confused,
Your question made me think about my own youth, which I spent behind the equally Cool but Confused Iron Curtain. When I was a kid in Leningrad, I had the following crushes and wanted to marry most if not all of them: Natasha, Lenny, Natasha again, Lenny, but only when he shared gum with me, Tania, Boris and then some other kid whose name I can’t even remember.
I was practically the Liz Taylor of the Soviet Bloc.
It seems to me that your understanding of what’s going on with your daughter is exactly right. She loves her friend and she wants to be around her. In her world, that means marriage. I would see it more as a testament to the relationship her father and you have modeled than a signal that you should start looking for an attorney to draft a prenup. Although it’s never a bad idea to keep an eye on who brings which Barbie into the relationship.
If your 5 year old is like many other girls, her relationship with Sarah will go through many phases and issues such as whether Sarah (or your daughter) can have more than one best friend, and what if Sarah (or your daughter) likes the secondary best friend more than the original best friend, which is exactly what we were afraid of when the whole issue of a second best friend came up with.
What is unlikely is that your daughter and Sarah will have it out with each other someone’s inability to load the dishwasher correctly or keeping the other one waiting by spending approximately a millennium in the bathroom getting ready. And, really, isn’t that what marriage is all about?