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Q: When my 12-year-old daughter and her friends hang out, they flirt with older teenage boys and men. How can I tell if she's giving out her personal information like her address and phone number -- or worse, having sex!
A: If your daughter is giving out her personal information, wouldn't you be receiving strange phone calls or have guys hanging around your home?
At twelve your daughter needs more supervision than just hanging out with her friends. Take charge by doing the following:
- Do not allow her to spend long periods of time with her friends in locations that are attractive to these older teens. Let her be with her friends unsupervised for brief periods of time, but always be "around" and sometimes drop by to say "hi" during these groups activities.
- Invite her friends to do things at your home, where they can be together and out of harm's way.
- Be frank and talk to your daughter about what behavior you expect of her. Set limits just in case she does not know how to set them for herself yet.
- Take her to visit her doctor and let a professional discuss the consequences of sex at an early age. At the same time, you must share your concerns about her behavior.
- Each individual ultimately must make the decision about sexual activity. Be sure your daughter has all the facts and that you have built a relationship that allows her to ask the questions that concern her. From the way you have asked your question, I fear you are not open and comfortable with your daughter to even approach the subject.
Deal with your feelings openly and honestly. Constantly let her know what worries you about her behavior. Good luck and keep your eyes open!
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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.