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BLOG: The day you realise your 13-year-old daughter is no longer your 'little girl'.

Bern and Maddie.

By BERN MORLEY

It has started. Boys.

Maddie, aged 13, has been invited to attend, through Facebook, an event named ‘The Lad’s Party’. Yeah, no, that won’t be happening.

After looking crestfallen and stomping out of the room after being denied attendance, she reluctantly emerged from her room some hours later to tell me that the soiree was “cancelled anyway.” Apparently the boys discovered that they needed their parents’ permission BEFORE they started inviting the entire student population around for a riot  party.

I was relieved of course. I mean, I remember the lies I had told my mother to get to certain parties at that age, knowing full well she’d never let me go, so I was mindful of denying her lest she try other avenues. This, however, did at least give me some time to regroup and get ready for the further requests to party.

How have you handled the transition from ‘girl’ to ‘teenager’?

And I’ve met these boys, these ‘lads’. They’ve got their hair so coiffed they could cut you if you got too close and appear to use more hair product than I did in 1988.

All in all though, they seem respectful enough, calling me Mrs Morley and looking me in the eye as they shake my hand. Granted, these are all great signs — but I remember being able to pull off the innocent and reliable young lady shtick back in the day also.

Yet, if I say no to every invite that involves boys, will I be just be becoming my own mother, who although in hindsight had my best interests at heart, denying me access to any male festive activity, made me desperately unpopular and seemingly forever further away from the boy I had a debilitating crush on? Am I denying her a teenage rite of passage and making her the one thing I always swore I’d never make her – different?

And what am I worried about anyway? What’s the worst that can happen to a 13-year-old young lady at an event that will more than likely involve alcohol, randy boys and little supervision? I’m just being overprotective, right? No, see I don’t think so.

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The thing is, I know my daughter is intelligent and good natured and wouldn’t go there wanting to find trouble but this doesn’t mean that she, like me at that age, wouldn’t want to impress, be liked and thought to be cool. This doesn’t mean she wouldn’t do something totally out of character and stupid to simply “fit in”.

Bern and the kids.

And because I was denied everything, I instantly wanted it so desperately I’d topple any obstacle in my way to get there. The first chance I got to drink alcohol without supervision I got so shitfaced on Malibu I blacked out.

The first chance I had to stay over at a boy’s house alone saw me having awkward and painful sex when I really didn’t want to. None of these episodes were fun and I really don’t want any of my children to duplicate my misery. So I’ve tried to explain this to my daughter, tried to take the mystery out of it all.

After much discussion, I’ve decided that when the next party invitation comes along, as long as I can see that there will be a parent/adult present, I will let her attend, on the proviso I drop her off and pick her up.

I will speak with the parent even though my daughter may find this mortifying. I will also make sure I am on the same page as her friend’s parents so we stop the whole falsifying of whereabouts. Most of all, I will make myself approachable so that she knows that I want her to have fun. That I am here if she needs me, but most importantly, she needs to respect the fact that we are allowing her this freedom and privilege. And that there will be consequences if she abuses it.

I know, one day, in the not too distant future, she will be her own little lady and be able to attend whatever she wants, accessing god knows what. But right now, she is still, even though officially taller than me, my little girl. And she needs to enjoy that until it’s no longer hers to enjoy.

Parents of teens – how did you handle this transition? Anyone who ever was a teen – how did your parents handle it?

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