Dear Dr. G.,

Ugh. This is a problem that I was not anticipating. My daughter went from a cherubic little angel into a sexy young teenager almost overnight. One day she was playing with dolls and the next day it seems she's playing with the boys—their minds that is. At least, that's how it seems to me. My daughter has a very lovely figure and I believe that she's quite aware of it. She certainly wears skimpy clothing in what seems to be an effort to show off as much of her body as possible.

I have recently become aware of how she acts around teenage boys. Her behavior changes radically. She smiles coyly, plays with her hair, and I'm embarrassed to say this but she is the biggest flirt that I have ever seen. I would have hated someone like her in middle school or even high school.

Here's the thing. My daughter is much prettier and outgoing than I ever was. I don't know if I should just wait for her to outgrow this behavior or address it in some way. I certainly don't want one thing to lead to another and have her become sexually active at a young age.

Please advise.

A Non-Flirtatious Mother

Dear Non-Flirtatious Mother,

Good for you for paying to attention to your daughter's behavior and clothing choices and to your gut feeling that something may be amiss.

Here is what I think. Yes, your daughter appears to be too focused on getting the attention of her male peers and may be developing lifelong habits that are problematic. I believe that teenage girls are aware of their sexuality but don't have a full understanding of the power of their sexuality. When they finally do realize how powerful it is they may use it as a tool with which to interact with the opposite sex.

My suggestion is that you speak candidly to your daughter about the power of sexuality and explain that teen boys get aroused much more quickly than teen girls. Explain that she may be sending the wrong messages. Also, help her focus on developing other skills that are powerful life tools like her intelligence, sense of humor, athletic skills, how to build friendships, etc. so that she doesn't grow up to become one of those women who other women love to hate. I'm just telling it like it is with no disrespect to women.

Also, who is paying for your daughter's clothing? I assume that you have some influence over what she purchases and what she wears. Set some limits here. You are the loving parent!

Good luck!

Dr. G.

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