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First of all, you have to understand the adolescent brain.
It is programmed by nature to reject the comforts of home to seek out the new and different in order to work up the courage to leave a secure family and establish a separate life. Your child is starting to look like an adult. She is starting to claim she is an adult, with adult rights. It’s time for her to start accepting responsibility like an adult. Rights don’t come without responsibilities. Maturity is not measured by age, but by willingness to accept responsibility. She doesn’t need to get a job and pay for her own apartment yet, but she should accept responsibility for her decisions. Ideally, in her teens she should develop an internal locus of control and realize she has control over certain things in her life. If you make all of her decisions for her, she will feel (rightly so) that she has no control over her own life, which may lead to depression, and almost certainly will lead to an inability to handle the challenges of life on her own. If she looks to you, teachers, coaches, or friends to tell her what to do, she will never gain experience at making decisions. On the other hand, if she learns step-by-step to take control of her schedule, her emotional reactions, and her adolescent life, she will be better able to make decisions when life throws the inevitable curve ball.
Let me put it this way: If your daughter is used to being told what to do and obeying, what will she do when her boyfriend tells her he expects her to have sex with him? On the other hand, if you have taught her to make her own decisions and always question the opinions of others, she will be more likely to be guided by her beliefs rather than his. The same principle applies to any future decision your teen will make, especially when pressed by peer pressure, and the earlier she gains that locus of control, the less stress you will have over her decisions.
You can get more details and advice on handling difficult conversations about sex, drugs, and other sensitive issues, including what to say at each age, by clicking on the Shop navigation bar above, then on Complete Books and Chapters to see your options.
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