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Admit That You Don’t Understand

What if your daughter says you don’t understand the pressure she’s facing? Agree with her, says Cohen. As a mom, you can say, “I probably don’t understand. Maybe you can help me.” Then ask open-ended questions like:

  • What are the pressures?
  • What are your friends doing?
  • How do decisions about sex get made?

If you have your daughter’s trust, you can help her think through what she would do or say when the pressure is on.

Treat Dating as a Learning Experience

Girls start dating for a lot of reasons. Dating can provide someone to go to the movies with. Girls who can change her Facebook status to in a relationship may feel a rise in social status. Often, though this probably doesn’t motivate a lot of teens, dating is a chance to deal with rejection.

On a deeper level, dating gives kids a chance to learn about relationships. If your daughter is dating, she may have stronger emotions than she’s had so far in her life. As a parent, this is one of those opportunities to help your daughter learn through experience.

“An early love relationship can be a laboratory for how to be in a healthy relationship,” says Kantor. You can promote this. Talk to your daughter about her feelings. Remind her that both she and the object of her affection are young. With a good dose of mutual respect and communication, they can learn about romance together.

If Your Daughter is Sexually Active, Stay Involved

A lot of parents make the mistake of walking away when they realize their daughter is having sex. “This is when daughters need their mothers most,” says Kantor. You still have a role in protecting your daughter’s physical and emotional health. Ask if she is using condoms or birth control. If not, bring her to a doctor who can talk with her about protecting herself from unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease.

On the emotional side, your daughter is still your daughter, despite her adult behavior. Ask her about the boy. Do they treat each other with love and respect? How has having sex affected the relationship? It’s important for her to know you’re still there for her, no matter what.

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