25 percent of all mothers [in Martin’s study] and 36 percent of mothers with 6-year-olds describe their children as having had a crush on someone of the other gender. Heteronormativity leads mothers to read their children’s behavior against the dominant discourse of children as asexual while, at the same time, using adult meanings to understand children’s behavior. For example, one mother of a 3-year-old girl wrote that she did not worry about her child growing up to be lesbian: “She already has boyfriends and has always been interested in having a husband. When her brother was born she asked if he was going to be her husband.” Instead of interpreting male peers as “friends,” the mother describes them as “boyfriends.” Rather than understanding interest in “having a husband” at age 3 as similar to an interest in being a ballerina or a superhero – that is, as a game of pretend not realistically related to one’s actual adulthood – the mother believes her child’s interest is predictive. […] In describing their children’s heterosexual crushes, none of the mothers described any sexualized behaviors, not even kissing or hand holding. Rather, mothers imputed romantic interest to their children’s playing with, befriending, or talking about peers of the opposite sex.
Karen A. Martin, from Normalizing Heterosexuality: Mothers’ Assumptions, Talk, and Strategy with Young Children (2009)