Dear Dr. Bill,
My husband and I have a difference of opinion about our 12-year-old daughter and her interest in boys. She and her best friend like to talk about “cute” boys and tease each other about who has a crush on whom. To me this seems like normal preteen behavior. But my husband feels she is too young and this will lead to worse behavior when she’s older. I respect my husband and want to be united with him, but I wonder if he’s being too strict on this. What do you think?
When a girl enters the pre-teen years, many fathers find it difficult to adjust to the fact that their little girl is about to blossom into a young woman. Some dads respond by being too overprotective and end up permanently damaging the relationship with their daughter.
Your daughter will be profoundly impacted by peer relationships during the next few years. Today’s teen culture is filled with temptations and dangers, and he’s right to be cautious and concerned. However, cracking down with rules and restrictions will only lead to rebellion.
Rather than simply protecting your daughter from the dangers lurking out in the world, your focus during the next few years should be preparing her to face the temptations she’ll be encountering.
Instead of forbidding talk of boys and crushes, now is the time to begin discussing issues like wise decision-making, sexual purity, and how to judge character in relationships.
Let me recommend an excellent book that you and your husband can read together. It’s entitled “God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Teen,” by Dr. Walt Larimore.
Thanks for writing Melanie.