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Relationships - Preteens & Young Teens

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12 yr old girl emailing college boy

Nov 2010

My daughter, who will be 12 yrs old next month, went to a week-long summer camp 3 months ago. She is now emailing to a counselor from the camp 3-4 times a day. The counselor is 19 yrs old and is in college. I have no ideas why a college kid would be interested in a girl in middle school and do not know whether (or when) we should step in before it gets too serious. My wife worries that there might be something happening during the camp that we did not know about. Concerned father


I would contact the camp, and the counselor. My son's summer camp prohibited communication between counselors and campers outside of camp sessions, without notification of the Camp and the parents. Campers mom
Dear Dad,

Time to talk to your daughter, without jumping to conclusions.

She may have a crush, maybe she made a friend. Do you know that the counselor is emailing back?

My thought is at 12 you are still managing her social life, especially with someone that is that much older. It may be very innocent, but it is not appropriate to be secret.

This is a great opportunity to talk about these issues with your daughter and set standards.

Suggestion - it is appropriate for you to meet your daughters' friends at any age, but again don't assume the worst. Worrying about it without calmly discussing it with your daughter will probably motivate the imagination. Ignoring it, might bring unwelcome surprises.

Help your daughter make good choices. If you find yourself needing help to do this, you would not be alone, just take some steps. If it goes really badly consider one or two sessions of family counseling. Family counselors are trained to help families communicate in healthy ways. If you can't bring yourself to do that, there are a lot of books on library shelves about how to talk to your adolescent child. This is generally the stage that things get harder, but you will find you are up to it.

If it helps, our rules have always been - please tell us everything. The hardest thing is keeping some of the confidences, and sometimes you have to talk about that. At 12 my daughter was not to have secret pals, or single dates. She could go out in groups - to the movies, and parties, games and events. We needed to know where she was, who she was with, what she was doing. It either needed to be a public or school event, or parents or chaperones had to be present. By this time she had a cell phone. Asking questions (without loosing it) over the years has helped our daughter make excellent plans when she is on her own.

The goal is for her to have a good life, but to make reasonable decisions. Encouraging Conversation


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