First Kiss, a Parent's First Worry

My 13-year-old daughter has a boyfriend, also 13 but about 8 months older. He asked her to go to the movies with him, his friend and his friend's older sister. I said no. To keep peace in the household, I invited him over to meet us. He is a very nice boy. The only problem is that he is holding her hand or has his arm around her all the time. I understand from the little sister that he kissed her. How much is too much?


Thirteen years old and savoring that first kiss, ah, how wonderful! And how frightening for a parent. Girls who develop earlier are more likely to engage in sexual behavior earlier, so you are right to be vigilant. Yet accept that her feelings are very normal! All young adolescents want to fall in love and kiss and more.

What can you do to allow your daughter to enjoy her emerging sexuality and her burgeoning romance and still remain safe?

*Encourage dating in groups of young people. Orchestrate these meetings, so that youngsters are not alone.

*Your daughter needs to know her sexual inclinations are okay, but that does not mean she is free to act on all of them. Sex education has to include what she can do to express her feelings of intimacy and why she should postpone intercourse. If you just say no, your young adolescent will never come to you for advice or counsel. Provide her with books and an adult whom she feels comfortable talking to in addition to yourself (not your mother, who wants to just say no).

It is scary having a teen who is on the verge of love and lust, but we all have them! We need to develop, talk and teach lessons that they can live with and love with. A parent's goal should be to allow young adolescents to embrace love and lust and remain abstinent.

-- Margaret Sagarese, coauthor of The Roller-Coaster Years and Parenting 911

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