From my own experience, a 13-year-old girl who is only interested in boys, shopping, makeup, and hairstyles is not out of the ordinary. While we as adults know these things are basically frivolous, girls (and boys) of that age can get totally caught up in it. This time is like a whirlwind; we worry that they might lose themselves in it, and some kids do and become self-obsessed adults. First of all, you mentioned some good points: she has a lot of friends and does well academically. Keep encouraging the academics; this is vital for her future success. Also, get to know her friends—all of them. You don’t have to pry or be overbearing. Have your daughter invite them individually to your house if possible on a fairly regular basis and listen, listen, listen.
You mentioned that she no longer participates in church activities—that is your responsibility. It is difficult to insist that an adolescent attend church when they really don’t want to, but I believe it helps them see that they are part of a larger family of people who are responsible for each other. As a parent, I insist on very little but they are the big things: My children will attend church with me. They will treat everyone with respect, and they need to do their chores to get that allowance. One more thing: I have found volunteering to be very helpful. I suggest that you do this with your daughter. She’ll learn more from your example than from anywhere else, even though it might not seem immediately apparent. Activities like this help a young person take their eyes off themselves and notice the people and world around them. Let her choose one for both of you.
R.F., Girard, Pennsylvania
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