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Handling Risky Behavior
Q: I'm concerned that my 13-year-old daughter is lying to me. In looking at some of the email she sends, I saw that she wrote about french kissing her boyfriend at the mall. I'm concerned that she is either doing this, or she feels the need to tell her friends she is doing this, and she isn't. What can I do?
A: As a parent, you are probably concerned about your daughter's lying, but also worried about her risky behavior.
Be direct with her about your fears that she is becoming more involved with sexual behaviors than you want her to be at thirteen. If she wants to have a boyfriend, set up situations where she can invite the boy to your home. That way, you will know what is truth or fiction.
I suggest you keep track of the kinds of things you feel (or know) she is lying about. Determine whether these lies are aimed at helping her fit into a more experienced group or are manipulations to get her into less-supervised situations.
Trust is an important part of the middle-school years. Reacting now with consistency and understanding her needs can stop further problems from growing.
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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.