DEAR ABBY: My 11-year-old daughter, "Gwen," just started middle school. She makes good grades, but she's strong-willed. Do kids grow up instantly when they start middle school?
She wants to know if she can have a boyfriend. I told her not until she's 15. Now she's flirting with girls who ask her out. I told her to stay away from them, not because they are lesbians but because they are not good girls. They are always in trouble.
Gwen says I'm too strict, and if I don't stop, she will run away. I adopted her at birth (it was an open adoption), and she recently asked me if I am going to place her for adoption. She was worried that I would. I am very concerned that she is hanging out with the wrong crowd. Any advice? -- SAN ANTONIO MOM
DEAR MOM: People do not grow up "instantly." I know individuals who are immature at 50, and I'm sure if you think about it, so do you. From what you have told me about your daughter, it's clear that she is far from the grown-up she thinks she is.
If you do not to want Gwen to date until she is older, that is your prerogative as her parent. The gender of the person isn't the issue.
Because you think she is hanging out with the wrong crowd, my advice is to make sure she is so busy she doesn't have time to spend with them. Involve her in activities outside of school -- sports, scouting, music or art. And be sure she knows that you are her forever mother and that nothing she could ever do will lessen your love for her.