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Q. My 12-year-old son is 5'9" and very good looking. The problem is, girls ages 14 and 15 find him attractive and actively pursue him. How can I make him understand that they're too old and he shouldn't be encouraging them?
A. Don't assume that boys always welcome these advances. They're under tremendous pressure from our culture to look like they want attention from girls, even if they don't. Today it's not uncommon for older girls in high school to target 9th-grade boys for pursuit, just like 12th-grade boys have done for years to 9th-grade girls.
Watch your opinions of these girls. It's normal but not good parenting to judge them harshly (you know what I mean). Tell your son, "Because you're tall and good looking, older girls will pursue you. You could be happy, nervous, or not like it. You could even have all those feelings at once. What's important is that 1. Being attractive doesn't mean you're more special than anyone else. 2. Just because they like you doesn't mean you have to do anything with them that makes you uncomfortable. 3. You must always treat girls and women with respect, but you have to treat yourself with respect, too."
Originally published in the March 2007 issue of Family Circle magazine.