Q. I'm scared my 13-year-old is too advanced. She told her stepmom that she let her boyfriend touch her and she touched him. They broke up, then a few days later I heard her on the phone saying "I love you" to another boy. Can you suggest books for her about self-esteem and relationships?
A. Absolutely! Right now, my favorites are The Girls' Guide to Guys (Three Rivers Press) and The Blueprint for My Girls in Love (Fireside). Ideally, they'll be conversation starters. For example, you each read a chapter and then talk about it. Don't ask personal questions, which may make her freeze up. Instead try, "How realistic do you think the author is?" or "Do you see kids acting like the ones in the book?" Also remember that your goal isn't to make your daughter feel ashamed for wanting a boyfriend. What she needs is to understand why she's so pulled to have a relationship and how to maintain her boundaries while she's in one.
Q. Last night I discovered that my 15-year-old son had put pillows underneath his covers and left our house. (After driving around, my husband found him.) Now what?
A. Beyond letting him know how angry you are about the deception, you need him to understand how scary it is not knowing where he is or if he's in danger. It's important for kids to learn empathy for their parents and others, so explain in detail the panic you and his father felt. Then give him his punishment (losing a privilege and extra chores for a while) and make sure he understands that there is no possibility for parole for good behavior. Even if he's being charming and compliant two weeks into a monthlong sentence, stick to your plan so he'll know that sneaking out isn't worth the risk.
Q. Is the parents' group at my kid's school nuts or am I? I just attended a meeting where they discussed raising a whopping $35,000 needed for the senior prom next spring. What do you think?
A. I think those parents need to give their children the responsibility to take care of their own business. I know people want to do something special for the seniors before they leave high school, but the unfortunate reality is that too many parents can't be trusted. These things almost always become a competition for who can be the best (meaning, the most overinvolved and micromanaging) parent. So get your courage up and take a stand. Focus your argument on this being a priceless opportunity for the kids to work together and have ownership of one of their last high-school activities -- even if it ends up being a more modest event.Rosalind Recommends
If you have a tween daughter who loves to write, New Moon Girls magazine is a great resource. You'll love it for its empowering messages and she'll read it because it's written by and for girls her age. The magazine also has a sister Web site with a club where girls can ask questions and share experiences with peers in an adult-monitored environment.
Originally published in the December 2008 issue of Family Circle magazine.