Question about 12 year daughter and boys
My oldest child is 12, so I'm new to dealing with boy/girl issues; hoping someone more experienced can help.
Our neighbor's son ("Ryan", also 12) has liked my daughter ("Dana") for a few years, and has "asked her out" several times (whatever that means when you're 12!! they don't go anywhere or do anything - that's just what the kids call it). I think she is not yet ready for boys (e.g., anytime she expresses interest in a boy, it is always someone from another school, in another grade, etc., someone "safe" to have a crush on, without fear of having to actually interact with him). And anytime Ryan asks Dana if she likes him, if she'll dance with him at their school dance, etc., she always says no, that she likes him as a friend only.
All that is fine, and I am, of course, in no hurry for her to be more interested in boys. What bothers me, though, is that lately she will go outside when Ryan is outside, play in their backyard, volunteer to go get her little sister from his house (he has a little sister, too), make a point of playing in our front yard if she knows he is returning from somewhere, so she will run into him, etc. and just generally acts as if she feels more for him than before. So it seems to me that she is encouraging him, because she enjoys the attention, but then tells him she won't "go out" with him. I know she likes hanging out with him, and I hate to tell her she shouldn't, but this just seems wrong. He is a nice kid and I hate that she hurts his feelings over and over. I don't want to tell her to ignore him, just to back off a little - she says she is just being "nice" to him. Any suggestions for how to handle this?
I know they are young, I just want her to get a good start on how to deal with boys so that she is not sending mixed signals or teasing.