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Q. I'm in a bind. My 12-year-old confided in my brother that she had two boys in the house when we weren't there, which is totally against our rules. She adores her uncle, and if I punish her she'll know where I got the information and stop talking to him. If I don't do anything, she'll do it again!
A. Suggest your brother have the following conversation with your daughter: "I know this is hard, but your mom needs to know about the boys in the house. So I'd like you to tell her—alone or with me." Your daughter may respond by saying, "Do I really have to?" or "Okay, I'll do it when I'm 25." He should insist that it needs to be done within 48 to 72 hours or he will tell.
I have worked with a lot of kids in your daughter's position and almost without fail after I "force" them to come clean, they're amazed at how much better it feels to confess than to wait anxiously to be caught.
Originally published in the July 2009 issue of Family Circle magazine.