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"I felt like if she came and shared it with me, it was important that we talk about it." Ford told her daughter she was too young to have a boyfriend, but she was careful to keep the line of communication open.Two years later, a bigger relational issue cropped up."It's an advanced signal of what is to come and needs to be addressed by Mom and Dad while they still have a major influence in their child's life," Feldhahn suggests.Jane Bowen, director of a statewide parent education organization agrees."Parents should take the lead in facilitating age-appropriate discussions with their preteen regarding friendships, dating, decision-making and sex.
This is what Patty and David Ford did with their 9-year-old daughter Amber.
"When she was in the fourth grade, Amber would tell me that so-and-so liked her and that other girls in the class had boyfriends," recalls Patty.