Q. My 11-year-old daughter is begging me to take her bra shopping, even though she doesn't need one yet. Should I do it anyway?
A. She may roll her eyes as you tell her that everyone grows at her own rate, but you need to remind her that this really is true. Then ask why she thinks she needs a bra. Is it because some of the other girls in the class are wearing one? Did her best friend just get one, so she's feeling left behind? Does the boy she has a huge crush on like a girl who's wearing a bra? Is your daughter feeling sensitive and private about her body because she has to change for gym? Any of the above are enough to lead to her request. Just having this kind of open conversation helps you get a better understanding of your daughter's underlying emotional needs. Plus, what's happening in her peer group is changing as the kids' bodies develop, and your daughter needs to process those dynamics with you.
Whatever your daughter's reasons for wanting a bra, don't shut her down because you think she's not physically ready for one. Just go to a store and help her pick out a few (that you feel are appropriate and within your budget) to try on. And don't hover around the fitting room—mothers have a way of opening the door at the most embarrassing moments.
Originally published in the January 2008 issue of Family Circle magazine.