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13 is too young to be out on your own


Q: I'm 13 years old. My life is nothing. I hate my parents. The real problem is mostly my dad. I can't do anything. I'm not allowed to go out, only for three hours and that's nothing. I'm not allowed to have people call me. My dad only shouts at me every day. I hate it. I want to move on with my life.

I have a great guy I'm not allowed to see. My dad treats me like a little baby. I want to be free. I want to move out, but I'm not allowed to. I can't do anything but sit in my room. If you were me, you would want to do the same thing. Please help. I need more freedom.

A: Your parents, especially your dad, are having a difficult time adjusting to your growing up. They may not be ready for their 13-year-old to be thinking about and seeing boys, especially if they matured more slowly than you.

It's often particularly hard for fathers to let a daughter grow up as they worry whether she'll want too much physical closeness with boys too fast or be unable to protect herself from them; sometimes mothers have more trust in their daughters as they know that they managed all right as they grew up.

Right now, it's probably hard for you to think about anything but your freedom. You may not realize that your parents, despite being too restrictive, are trying to protect you. At age 13, you need guidelines and should not be allowed to do whatever you please. You are too young to handle all the responsibilities of being free. So you do need to accept some rules from your parents.

Perhaps you can all sit down together, discuss the situation and negotiate new rules. Try talking to your mother first, as she seems to be more reasonable than your father. If this fails, your family may need counseling to keep you from becoming desperate and getting into trouble. To find a therapist, ask your schoolcounselor or pediatrician for help.

Q: I am 11 years old and like this really cute boy and he likes me. But this other girl likes him and she will not allow me to like him. The boy and her are starting to flirt. If I flirt with him, she will get my friends against me. I don't know what to do.

A: Maybe you can let your friends know what's going on before flirting with the boy. Tell them that the other girl will want them to be against you if you flirt with the boy you like as she likes him, too. The girls who are your good friends will most likely stick by you especially if you've been loyal to them.

Once you've talked to your friends, go ahead and talk or flirt with this boy. However, be prepared for the possibility that he may like the other girl better and you may still have to give him up.

Dr. Sokal is a child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist practicing in Baltimore. If you have a question, send it to Kids Ask, Features Department, The Sun, Baltimore 21278.

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