DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a 13-year-old daughter who now has an interest in boys. I would prefer it if she stay focused on her schoolwork, but she is insisting on wanting to date at this young age. What can I do to keep my daughter focused on her schoolwork and not the boys? -- Growing Up is Hard to Do, Memphis, Tenn.
DEAR GROWING UP IS HARD TO DO: Hormonally, it makes sense that your daughter is interested in boys now. She is in puberty, which is the period when boys and girls start to change, and they naturally become more aware of themselves as sexual beings.
As her parent, you obviously want to monitor her activities and guide her as to what is appropriate behavior and what is not for her age (something I trust you or someone began long before now). To refuse to let her date may backfire on you.
You don't want her sneaking out to see boys. Instead, why not recommend that she participate in co-ed group activities, like going to the movies or to the mall. You can also suggest that she invite her friends to your home. If she doesn't have a co-ed friend group, have her invite her male friend to your home. In this way, you can meet whomever she finds interesting and monitor what they do. Ultimately, though, you must teach your daughter that as she develops a social life, she also must complete her schoolwork. Schoolwork must come first. For more support, go to: kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/adolescence.html