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A Close Relationship

Middle School Expert Advice from Judith Lee Ladd

Q: My eleven-year-old daughter is very attached to me and my family thinks I am smothering her. I don't let her walk to or from school alone. She has her own set of house keys, but is never left alone to use them. My mom thinks she will have a hard time being independent if I don't give her some responsibility. I just don't know where to start. Am I hurting her by always wanting to be together?

A: Having a close relationship with your daughter is a wonderful experience for both of you. But like most things, having too much of even a good thing can be harmful.

Your daughter needs to continue her close relationship with you while developing other age-appropriate relationships. You may need to create opportunities for her to be with her classmates (one or two at a time) so that she can enhance her social skills.

Walking or driving your daughter to school is not bad, but try to expand her peer interaction by taking along a neighbor or picking up one of her classmates. You'll enjoy watching the two of them together, acting their age. Kids need to be silly and spontaneous sometimes - not acting like little adults.

Never being alone in the house is fine, as long as that doesn't mean you are always taking care of everything. Your daughter should have household responsibilities and should be required to do them.

Continue to show your love for her and enjoyment in being together, but don't use the relationship to keep either of you from establishing the important relationships that go with each of your new stages of life. Enjoy the closeness, but don't remain wrapped around each other so much. Hope these suggestions bring you new experiences and opportunities for growth.

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Judith Lee Ladd is a former president of the American School Counselor Association, a national organization of K-12 and post-secondary school counselors.

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