My son, who is 4, frequently says that he wants to marry the 4-year-old daughter of a good friend of mine. They have known each other since birth (I have known my friend since college). Sometimes before bed he worries about who he'll marry someday. I try to remind him that he's very young and you don't get married until you are an adult. He asked me yesterday if we could go buy a ring for my friend's daughter. He's so sweet and innocent, but I worry that he's too pre-occupied with this. Is this normal? What do I do? My friend also told me that her daughter said at dinner one night that she was going to marry my son and have a baby. They're 4!!!
My son was VERY smitten with a girl from kindergarten through 2nd grade. (He just entered 3rd- we'll see what happens this year) Although he is older than your child, he also worried about it alot. He would (very) frequently ask me questions like "what if she doesn't want to marry me and wants to marry someone else instead?" "how old do I have to be to get married?" "how do I get a girl to marry me?". It was cute and a bit troubling at the same time. Even though he is still interested in her, it doesn't seem to be as strong of an attraction now.
Perhaps it sounds silly to others, but I was worried (when she didn't seem to return the interest) that it would crush his self confidence. He's a sensitive kid. But he does seem to be handling it well.
I would acknowledge his interest and not "poo-poo" it. I would ask him "what is it about her that you like?" "why do you think she'd be a good girlfriend or wife?" I gently would remind him that it's great to have a friend who's a girl and hopefully they have a friendship that will last a long time. Then if they decide to get married they will have a great wife AND friend.
For young children to have 'crushes' is normal and because they are so young and so new to 'crushes', a 'crush' to them feels like deep love. My own son in Kindergarten had a crush on one of his classmates. Young children don't have the life experience to know there are many responses we can have to a crush or many ways we can go when we meet someone we like in that way.
By Middle School these days kids figure out they can flirt, fight, 'go steady', or just declare to your friends that you 'like Anna' and wait for your friends to tell her friends etc etc.
By 4th grade or 5th grade children don't think anymore about marrying the girl or boy they 'like' - they're then just into the drama of it all, the phone calls, arranging to meet up at the mall and escaping chaperonage so they can start to experiment with kissing and physical overtures. ( it starts young these days)
But a 4 year just thinks of it in the straight line kind of way. His experience level is at his age limited to knowing that people in love get married - so he interprets his crush as love and thinks he should marry this girl. To his thinking, that's the next logical step.
It's all normal. Young children's play often incorporates adult roles - they pretend things and that's a normal way to play as a young child. They play that they are firemen putting out a fire, or play they are building a bridge, or pick up sticks and pretend they're hunting lions in the backyard. That a child picks up a stick and pretends to shoot a non- existent lion or a 'bad guy' or ' space monster' doesn't mean that the child wants to really hurt anybody or that he yearns to really kill Africa's lions or that he will allow the thought of the space monsters to take over his thoughts.
At 4 boys and girls have figured out they're not the same and gender roles are developing. Boys will play with boys and girls with girls whereas at age 1 or 2' , boys and girls play together and tend to play with other children with similar play styles or compatible personalities.
Tell him it's nice that he likes 'Anna' and that you like her too and isn't it nice that your families are good friends and that he and Anna get to see each other often. Tell him that you got married at age ? and that's usually when people get married because to be married it's much better to have a job. Tell him before we get jobs we need to go to school and that he has some years of school ahead of him yet and so does 'Anna' so that it's not really possible for him to get married right now.
You can stall on the ring question (my son asked me to give him back the plastic ring he gave me that he got in a party goodie bag so he could give it to Alison...) or you can say "what I think 'Anna' would like even better might be some glitter markers, she loves to draw. What do you think - should we give them to her now or wait till her birthday party and really surprise her with great glitter markers?"
Sorry for the length of this but having taught preschool and raised a caring son of my own, what you're describing is all normal. I hope I helped.
I think this is perfectly age appropriate. He is looking at his role models and considering how he will be when he grows up. My son did this. He asked so many girls to marry him, married a little girl on the play ground and another friend while at the McDonald's playground. They are only pretending, and imagining what it will be like to be a grown up. Now he is older and he laughs at these memories. He is still friends with the little girls and they also chuckle when we remind them of those times. Just enjoy your precious innocent boy.