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But today these 10-year-olds want to be unsupervised, just boy-girl.'' Early dating is found primarily in affluent communities, said Dr.David Elkind, a professor of child study at Tufts University who wrote '' The Hurried Child'' (Addison-Wesley, 1981).
Davis said that peer pressure pushes 10-year-olds in her town to attend a monthly dance at the local school.
Typically, he said, these dates are preceded by ''a lot of wrangling'' at home between parent and child.
Also, there are usually intense negotiations between the parents of the boy and girl, with the parents having ''as much contact as the kids, if not more,'' he said.
The children, he added, ''often have absolutely no idea of what they are supposed to be doing, especially the boys, even though they talk very hip.'' Ms. J., about eight miles northwest of Manhattan, said dating is not uncommon among children 10 and 11 years old in her community. '' I will not let my 11-year-old date,'' she said.
In fact, to bolster his plea for permission to date, her son cited one of his friends, who takes a girlfriend on dates to the movies and local pizza parlor. '' I have my limits.'' Not all parents in the community agree with her, Ms. '' Nobody wants to admit to another parent that they openly sanction this,'' she said, ''but there certainly is a desire among some parents, however misguided it may be, for their children to be popular.'' Terry Tierney, the father of a 10-year-old son, said he was ''flabbergasted'' when the fifth grader told him he wanted to double-date with a friend.'' When I was young, we started seeing the opposite sex in the seventh or eighth grade, and under supervision,'' said Mr.
Their fascination with dating has little to do with budding sexuality, psychologists say. '' Parents suddenly find themselves hassling with issues they did not expect to deal with until adolescence.'' Dr.