The Trouble With Childhood Romance: Why Punishing a 7-Year-old for “Cheating” Is Absurd

Sad little girl with teddy bear on light background

Layla, a bubbly 7-year-old girl, had recently developed a “romantic” interest in a boy named Lucas. They exchanged Valentine’s Day cards and held hands during recess.

But one day, Layla was seen holding hands with another boy who had also given her a love letter. Lucas, feeling jealous and betrayed, refused to see Layla.

When Layla’s father learned about the incident, he was outraged and demanded that Layla be punished for cheating on Lucas. Her mother, on the other hand, saw things differently.

She argued that Layla was just a child and didn’t understand the concept of cheating. The two parents couldn’t come to a resolution, so the mother turned to Reddit for advice.

Too Early To Cheat?

As the story spread on Reddit, people’s responses were overwhelmingly in support of Layla’s mother. Many commented that calling a 7-year-old a cheater was absurd and harmful.

They suggested that Layla be sat down and explained why Lucas was upset but not accused or punished.

A commenter Gr4nd45 responded:

“She’s 7. It’s ridiculous to call her a “cheater.” At the same time, you can sit her down and explain why Lucas is upset and doesn’t want to see her. That’s more than enough of a lesson.”

Similarly, jane_q replied on the post:

“An explanation is appropriate, but not an accusation or punishment. Kinda worried about her husband…”

Ttreehouse commented :

“The explanation should include being explicit that Lucas being upset is not her fault or responsibility. Kids that age can begin to understand ideas of jealousy and setting boundaries. I find all of the reactions except OP to be really strange and frankly a little alarming.”

Another commenter, addangel responded:

“I would argue that explaining to her husband that his misogyny will not be tolerated should take priority.. because if he has some gripes with women or cheating, he needs to deal with them in therapy, not project them on his 7 yo daughter.

“This strikes me as a man who will shame her in the future for how she dresses, telling her she’s inviting any harassment she gets, etc.

“This is why it’s extremely important for women to fully vet the men they plan on procreating with. because otherwise, this will keep getting passed onto future generations.”

Punishment Is Not the Answer

Experts agree that as parents, it’s important to remember that our children are still learning and experimenting with their emotions and relationships. Punishing children for their innocent romantic gestures can have long-term negative effects on their emotional and social development.

Instead, parents should focus on teaching values of kindness, respect, and empathy and educate their children about healthy relationships and boundaries.

It’s also crucial for parents to communicate openly with each other about their parenting styles and values to find a more effective way to address their child’s behavior.

Children at a young age are just beginning to explore their feelings and social connections and are not capable of understanding concepts such as cheating or faithfulness in the same way adults do.

The incident with Layla and Lucas could play a role in bringing them closer together and teach them the importance of communicating effectively and respecting each other’s feelings.

Childhood romance is a sweet, innocent, and fleeting part of growing up, and it’s important for parents to remember that and to encourage their children to express their feelings openly and honestly without fear of judgment or punishment.

The Verdict

Punishing a child for “cheating” on their 7-year-old “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” is not only misguided but also harmful. Parents should use these incidents as opportunities to teach their children about empathy, kindness, and communication.

Childhood romances may not be real relationships, but they offer children valuable lessons about human connection and emotions. Let’s not rob them of that.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments. Was the OP from this post wrong?

Featured Image Credit: belchonock /

This article originally appeared on Ash & Pri.

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Annika Stepanov

Annika is passionate about personal finance and travel, pouring her extensive experience into her writing on these topics. She has a diploma in Creative English Writing and has been working in the industry since 2016.