Let’s not make the mistake of the Romeo And Juliet Effect with our children. Here’s how it breeds defiance.
See, it would probably work better to focus on the attributes rather than a specific person.
Personally, I want my children to one day date (and eventually marry) people with the characteristics of X, Y, and Z.
I want to first encourage X, Y, and Z in my children. And then cheer them on to find friends and spouses with the same attributes.
Saying, “I absolutely forbid this.” is a ticket to rebellion.
As already noted, this needs to be an internal change, not an external rule.
For internal changes stick. And external rules are meant to be broken.
Understand: This is about wanting what you can not have.
Nothing illustrates the boomerang quality of parental pressure on adolescent behavior quite so clearly as a phenomenon known as the “Romeo and Juliet effect.” As we know, Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet were the ill-fated Shakespearean characters whose love was doomed by a feud between their families. Defying all parental attempts to keep them apart, the teenagers won a lasting union in their tragic act of twin suicide, an ultimate assertion of free will. The intensity of the couple’s feelings and actions has always been a source of wonderment and puzzlement to observers of the play. How could such inordinate devotion develop so quickly in a pair so young? A romantic might suggest rare and perfect love. A social scientist, though, might point to the role of parental interference and the psychological reactance it can produce. Perhaps the passion of Romeo and Juliet was not initially so consuming that it transcended the extensive barriers erected by the families. Perhaps, instead, it was fueled to a white heat by the placement of those barriers. Could it be that had the youngsters been left to their own devices, their inflamed devotion would have amounted to no more than a flicker of puppy love?
-Robert Cialdini, Influence