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Parents:
“My daughter is too young to be friends with this boy.”

Dear Annie,

I have a problem concerning my daughter and a certain boy. My daughter is 13 (14 in August). The boy in question is 17. He likes her also as he calls many times during the day -- including always at 7 am and 11 pm -- everyday, brings her gifts and flowers. I don't think it is appropriate for a boy that age to be interested in someone 13. My daughter says they are "just friends, not dating, not having sex," and that he is her best friend. She refuses to end the relationship. My husband and I feel we must step in and tell the boy he cannot call her or see her anymore, at all. I know it can be very intoxicating and seductive to a 13 year old to have someone 17 interested in her. But I don't see why a boy that age would be interested in a girl her age other than for physical reasons. Summer vacation is just around the corner and I know I cannot watch her 24/7. Plus I work 3 days a week. Got any words of wisdom for me? Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill?

Worried Mom

Dear Worried Mom,

I do not think you are making a mountain out of a molehill. Your gut instinct is telling you that you don't feel comfortable with this relationship and you need to honor that because it is your responsibility as the parent of a minor child to keep your daughter safe. I agree with you totally. It feels questionable, at best, for a 17 year old boy to be "just friends" with a 13 year old girl, but the behavior of pursuit that you describe, the "many calls during the day" the gifts, flowers, etc., are clear signs that this boy is romantically attached to your daughter and might be obsessing over her.

You and your husband need to tell your daughter how you feel and let her know that this is going to end. Don't be afraid to set limits and stick to them. You are the adults here! If she continues to "refuse" to end the relationship, then you talk with the boy and tell him that it's over. You do not want him calling, emailing, or visiting your daughter any more. And you can tell him why. This is your child and you don't need anyone's permission to do what you believe is in her best interests.

I can't possibly know what kind of relationship you and your husband have with your daughter, but you have to let her know why you are restricting this relationship. It's not a matter of not trusting her, it is a matter of not feeling safe with the two of them spending time alone together. Be blunt if you have to. He is at a different level of sexual development than she is and you are not willing for this relationship to progress in the "natural" direction it is likely to progress towards, especially with the 4 years seniority he has over her. Relationships with younger girls and older guys are often directed by the guys and motivated by their sexual needs. If after telling her, point blank, that she is not to see him anymore, do you think she would sneak around your back? If there is a trust issue here (i.e., you believe your daughter would defy your rules) then you need to let her know what the consequence for that would be if she makes that choice. Also, I would suggest you get her involved in a summer program (of her choosing) so that she has structure and is creatively involved in something that she enjoys. I hope this helps.

In friendship,

Annie

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