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#1 of 66 Old 06-08-2010, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am somewhat worried that dd11 is hurting boys' feelings. Over the course of the past year, she's had three boys who are interested in her and two of them have asked her to "go out" with them. One, in particular, apparently gave her a flower and tried to give her an inexpensive necklace, which she refused. She told him that she'd need to "ask her mother."

I don't know if she is just not interested in boys yet or just not interested in the ones who like her. I also don't need to have her "going out" with boys yet if she doesn't want to. I don't want her to hurt their feelings, however.

Two of these boys were at least a year or so older than dd b/c she is young for grade due to a fall bd and a grade skip. She'll be an 8th grader in the fall and will turn 12 a few weeks after school starts. The age difference may be making a difference here b/c the boys are at a different place in terms of their interest. However, I do know other kids who are a grade below her who are "going out" with boys which seems to entail saying that said person is your boyfriend/girlfriend and not much else.

What can I tell her to say to these boys that is likely to leave them not hurt but doesn't force her to "date" someone she doesn't want to?
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#2 of 66 Old 06-08-2010, 02:57 PM
 
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She could always blame you. "My mother won't let me go out until high school."

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#3 of 66 Old 06-08-2010, 03:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess that my worry with that type of a response is that, if she does meet someone she wants to "go out" with, she will look like a liar or that the message will have gotten around that she is unavailable across the board. That does seem to be the approach she's going with for now, though !
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#4 of 66 Old 06-08-2010, 03:40 PM
 
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Crashing in here...

As a teenager I "went out" with anyone and everyone. Of course, that meant holding hands and maybe kissing at the skating rink.

But as an adult I was picky. I knew right away who I was and was not interested in, and I didn't bother going out with those who didn't interest me. As an adult there have been three guys who interested me. I went out with all three of them (not at the same time). I married one of them.

I just didn't bother with the rest. I tried to gently tell them no, but some guys just don't get the hint!

Anyhow, maybe your DD has already learned what it took me so long to learn- sometimes you just know when a person is someone you want, and sometimes you know when they're not.

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#5 of 66 Old 06-08-2010, 04:07 PM
 
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From a male perspective. I don't think you really have to worry too much about her responses hurting the boys feelings. True, it doesn't feel good to be shot down, but her saying she has to ask her mom is not going to be anymore hurtful than just a "no". And honestly, some guys need a good ol' fashioned "ew, not if you were the last man on earth and we had to choose between re population and letting human kind die out!"

On the other hand if she is just not interested in boys at the moment, she could also tell them that she is simply not interested in dating right now. DD did that last year and the boy took it really well. Or at least he stopped doing weird things to get her attention.

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#6 of 66 Old 06-08-2010, 04:28 PM
 
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there is nothing in your description that would lead me to believe she is being unnecessarily rude or cruel. obviously, if you think she is saying or doing cruel things, you should talk to her about that. but not wanting to go out with someone, how is it not ok for her to say no, even if it hurts their feelings?

i'd be really annoyed if my mom suggested i go out with someone just "to be nice" or suggested i need to put someone else's feelings before my own when it came to romantic attachments. i think it's great that she knows what she wants and isn't conforming to peer pressure. at most, i would have a talk with her about how to be assertive yet gracious, which is a very VERY important life skill, especially for a girl. far too often, girls are brought up to be unfailingly polite and "nice" and it certainly doesn't do them any favours when not everyone they are going to come in contact with in their lives is going to respectful and "nice" themselves.

anyway, i would be very careful in how i addressed this with a girl this age. she is obviously not interested in romantic attachments yet, but she will be eventually, and her self esteem and feelings of self worth are still very much developing and changing. anything that makes her think her mom thinks she's weird for not going out with boys could be quite damaging. really though, why do you need to say anything (aside from addressing outright rudeness and cruelty)?
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#7 of 66 Old 06-08-2010, 05:23 PM
 
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DD 14 y.o. just came home from school very relieved after a good talk with a boy in her grade. Last week he asked her if she wanted to see a movie. She wasn't sure if it was a date. We talked about it. She likes him as a friend. She doesn't think she is ready for a romantic relationship (she did "go out" with a boy when she was 12, which basically meant they sat together at lunch and breaks and on field trips, and she's had crushes before).

So today she talked to him and told him she'd like to see a movie together, but just as friends. She said she wasn't ready for anything more romantic or serious. He felt the same way. They laughed a little about their classmates' attitudes and crazy behaviour.

So far, honesty (with sympathy and good humour) has been the best policy. I think she handled the whole thing well.
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#8 of 66 Old 06-08-2010, 05:38 PM
 
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I'm not the mother of a teenager, but as a woman who was once a teen, I think it was be a very bad idea to give her the idea that she needed to be "nicer" about letting a boy down.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely do not support girls making sport of boys. There is no need to crush anyone for fun. I didn't read a single thing in your description that was cruel or unusual. All she did was decline the date. If you think about it, the implication there is - whether you meant this or not - that merely turning a boy down is not nice, and she should be going out with them. This is a bad idea.

Like MusicianDad said, boys don't enjoy getting turned down but they do deal with it. It's kind of part of being a boy, I'd even venture to say. Interestingly, I've heard from more than one male that the hardest part of this interaction is mixed messages from the girl. A boy who has been told clearly but without humiliation "no" can understand it and move on. What drives them crazy is when a girl is all wishy-washy - "nice." She'll try hard to let him down easy but he's trying to figure out what the hell she's really saying. She'll say stuff like "oh, I do like being friends with you" and the boy is going "ok, I guess that means I've got the green light." And it drags out and nobody is happy.

So that sucks for the boy, but unfortunately there's a worse possibility: that a girl who is taught to be "nice" will be taken advantage of by a boy. I'd venture to say that's so common it's happened to nearly all of us to some degree or another.

It's terrific that your daughter is not fazed by this pressure, and that she's able to clearly and reasonably express her position. There is no need for her to go out with any boys she doesn't actively want to. There is no need for her to worry about letting them down easy either; as long as she's clear and direct and not playing games with them, everyone will be the better for it.

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#9 of 66 Old 06-08-2010, 05:44 PM
 
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there is nothing in your description that would lead me to believe she is being unnecessarily rude or cruel. obviously, if you think she is saying or doing cruel things, you should talk to her about that. but not wanting to go out with someone, how is it not ok for her to say no, even if it hurts their feelings? ?
This is what struck me about your post, too. I'm curious where you get the idea that she's refusing in a way that's designed to be hurtful.

I can well imagine that a boy who musters up the nerve to ask a girl out will be hurt if she says no. But that's just part of life. It's something for him to deal with. If your daughter is saying "No, thanks," what's the problem?

She's declined to go out with three boys. It sounds like she knows what she wants and it's either not to date now (I'd be thrilled with that, as the mother of 12yo) or not to go out with these particular guys.

In your shoes, OP, the only thing I'd have to say would be to commend your daughter for following her instincts and not giving in to peer pressure (which I imagine there must be plenty of).
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#10 of 66 Old 06-08-2010, 05:53 PM
 
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I think you need to reinforce to her it is ok to say NO.

I do have to question why you think her saying NO is hurting the boys feelings? If she is being mean to them then yes you have to teach manners other than that saying NO is ok.

My son is 15 years old. There are many kids in his group that are simply not interested in dating. The same with my 12 year old daughter.
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#11 of 66 Old 06-08-2010, 07:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I absolutely don't think that she is intentionally hurting anyone's feelings. I am more concerned that she is giving them indirect answers like, "I have to check with my mom," which isn't actually "no" and may leave him still hoping. She is then never getting back to the boys, which seems unfair.
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#12 of 66 Old 06-08-2010, 07:30 PM
 
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I absolutely don't think that she is intentionally hurting anyone's feelings. I am more concerned that she is giving them indirect answers like, "I have to check with my mom," which isn't actually "no" and may leave him still hoping. She is then never getting back to the boys, which seems unfair.
Oh, well that clarifies things. Yes, in this case you need to tell her that it is absolutely ok - and in fact, imperative, if she doesn't want to - to say NO.

Also tell her that if a boy pesters her for a reason, the response is "I don't need to give you a reason." Because she absolutely doesn't.
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#13 of 66 Old 06-08-2010, 09:52 PM
 
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I'm also struck by the fact that even though your dd and the boys are in the same grade they are a year or more older than she is. I personally think that if it were me, I'd feel quite strongly about supporting my dd in her feelings and actions. The age difference is not insignificant in my mind, although I understand that's my own perspective.

Your dd sounds like a young woman who knows her mind. Her responses seem not only developmentally appropriate, but on par with most of the 11 y/o girls I know, including my own! I always, always, tell my dd that she can use me as an excuse for any situation in which she needs an out, feels pressured, unsafe or uncomfortable.
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#14 of 66 Old 06-10-2010, 10:40 PM
 
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Do you really want to teach your daughter, on the cusp of womanhood, that she should be more worried about hurting a boy's feelings by turning him down than about listening to her own heart and gut?

That's the kind of internal rules that lead women to ignore their gut instincts about dangerous situations and get them assaulted.

If you're worried about the way she's doing it, then I'd *maybe* talk to her about how she's doing it (ie, no laughing or mocking). But girls have no obligation to "let them down easy" or come up with fake excuses. "That's sweet of you, but I'm really not interested in you that way," or "No thank you, I don't want to go on a date" are perfectly acceptable answers to "wanna go out?"

savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).

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#15 of 66 Old 06-10-2010, 10:58 PM
 
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I'm wondering if "I have to ask my mother" is your daughter's way of saying to these boys, "I am uncomfortable with this type of attention and I don't feel old enough/mature enough to navigate these waters alone."

If you'd rather she said something else, I think encouraging her to say, "No, I don't have time," or just, "No, thanks," is plenty for this age.
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#16 of 66 Old 06-10-2010, 11:09 PM
 
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Honestly, I'd be far more worried about these boys who seem to be so intent on pursuing a romantic relationship with a child.

Eleven is a child. There is absolutely no reason for an eleven year old to be going out with anyone. Boys and girls can be friends without "going out". When my daughter was that age, she had plenty of friends, but no "dates".
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#17 of 66 Old 06-10-2010, 11:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Do you really want to teach your daughter, on the cusp of womanhood, that she should be more worried about hurting a boy's feelings by turning him down than about listening to her own heart and gut?
I never suggested that she should go out with boys she doesn't want to go out with nor did I ever say that I want her to be more concerned with the boys' feelings than I do her own desires. What I do want her to do is say "no," when she wants to and find a way say it that is not nebulous, leaving the boy hopeful, or embarrassing to the boy. One of these boys apparently asked her to "go out" with him in front of the entire drama class. That is a hard one to respond to in a way that doesn't leave either one of them embarrassed.
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#18 of 66 Old 06-10-2010, 11:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Honestly, I'd be far more worried about these boys who seem to be so intent on pursuing a romantic relationship with a child.
These boys range in age from 11 to 13, so they are basically children too.
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#19 of 66 Old 06-10-2010, 11:29 PM
 
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These boys range in age from 11 to 13, so they are basically children too.

Then none of them need to be "dating".
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#20 of 66 Old 06-10-2010, 11:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Then none of them need to be "dating".
Probably not, but the reality is that having a "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" is fairly ubiquitous in our middle schools starting in 6th grade. Like I said earlier, I don't think that it entails much more than just saying that someone is your girlfriend around school and maybe going to school dances together.
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#21 of 66 Old 06-11-2010, 12:01 AM
 
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I think that whatever way she chooses to say no, that she is comfortable saying no, is fine, assuming she's not being cruel (as in, not saying something like "Are you kidding me? You are so gross! I would never go out with a stupid, ugly boy like you!"). I would just have a conversation with her to let her know that if the attention makes her uncomfortable, that she really should give a direct, polite (assuming the boy was polite in the first place) "No, thank you." Otherwise, as you said, the boy could decide to ask again and again, thinking she's really just making up her mind. However, I think even at 11-13, most boys would be able to understand a subtle deflection. In any case, I don't think there's a way to not hurt someone's feelings if they are expressing romantic interest and you don't share those feelings. There's going to be some let down on the other person's part. A "no thank you" could be just as crushing as an "I don't know." I think you need to encourage your daughter to answer in a way that she feels comfortable with - ideally, that's directly. But if she's not comfortable being direct at this point, I don't think there's any harm in letting her rely on you as the "bad guy." She can just say "My mom won't let me have a boyfriend yet." I also think you're overthinking it when you say you are worried people will think she's a liar if she says something like that and then later has a boyfriend - parents change their minds and it could be as simple as that.
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#22 of 66 Old 06-11-2010, 12:01 AM
 
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Maybe just give her a lesson on how to let a guy down easy? What's the big deal - feelings are going to be hurt in a situation like this no matter what. She just needs to not be a UAV about it. If she doesn't like a guy, she can say thanks but no thanks.
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#23 of 66 Old 06-11-2010, 12:04 AM
 
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11 - 13 is not the same as a child. It is more of a pubescent youth. Which means that as much as the parents things "they don't need to be dating/having a boyfriend/girlfriend/thinking about these kinds of things" what is really happening is they are starting to become aware of the fact that yes, members of the opposite (or same) sex are attractive in "that way" and they want to test the waters. And yeah, part of that is having someone you say is your boyfriend or girlfriend to other people even if you two only hang out at school.

Again 11 - 13, not children... youth in the transition from childhood to adulthood.

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#24 of 66 Old 06-11-2010, 12:33 AM
 
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If dating is so ubiquitous, then you should understand how much harder it would be for her to say no. To be able to say that you wouldn't let her, would actually be kinder to her and to the boys, because it's no longer about her or him. If there is a lot of pressure, and she just says no, her peers are going to push her more and more because there isn't a good excuse.

Be thankful your daughter doesn't want to date, and be her excuse. It's one of the few things my mom did right for me, allowing me to say "My mom won't let me". She was willing to be perceived as the mean mom, rather than trying to be everyone else's friend.

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#25 of 66 Old 06-11-2010, 12:39 AM
 
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When I was 15 years old a 29 year old man asked me out on a date. I was terrified to say no, even though I knew a 29 year old guy that wants to date a 15 year old has something wrong with him. So I told him, "I have to ask my mom." as my way of getting out of it. I knew it wasn't safe to date him. So we went over to my mom and asked... I just knew she'd say not on you ever loving life. ... She said "okay, have her home by 10 pm." thankfully nothing happened, but it was probably the most terrifying date of my life.

I was 15 I was not sexually active and I was raised in a culture that was all about "letting a guy down easy" Date rape basically didn't exist as a punishable crime in the 1980's. I was totally unprepared with how to deal with a worst case scenario and my mom basically handed me to this guy. Your daughter is 11, let her be a kid as long as she wants and let her use you as an excuse.
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#26 of 66 Old 06-11-2010, 12:49 AM
 
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11 - 13 is not the same as a child. It is more of a pubescent youth. Which means that as much as the parents things "they don't need to be dating/having a boyfriend/girlfriend/thinking about these kinds of things" what is really happening is they are starting to become aware of the fact that yes, members of the opposite (or same) sex are attractive in "that way" and they want to test the waters. And yeah, part of that is having someone you say is your boyfriend or girlfriend to other people even if you two only hang out at school.

Again 11 - 13, not children... youth in the transition from childhood to adulthood.
Well, I just don't agree.

I have a 16 year old. When she was that age, she was most definitely still a child. My son is 11. He is absolutely still a child. He plays with Hot Wheel Cars and plastic dinosaurs for goodness' sake. It's not just his choice of toys. I know him. His thought process, his decision making - he's still a kid.

When my daughter was in junior high, she had lots of friends, some boys and some girls. What's wrong with just letting kids be kids and have friends? Why must they be paired off the minute they hit double digits in age?

There is nothing, IMO, to be gained by having a boyfriend in 6th grade. But there is a lot to lose, including just the fun and freedom of being a kid and not having to deal with relationships and breakups and all that drama.
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#27 of 66 Old 06-11-2010, 01:54 AM
 
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I still play with hot wheel cars... They're fun...

The fact that you still consider him a child doesn't mean he is still 100% a child. He's not an adult, but he's not a child either.

I didn't say that they have to be paired off once they hit double digits, but the assumption adults have of 11, 12, 13 year olds being "children" bugs me a lot, and I see the effects often enough. 12 year old who behave like 6 year olds when their parents are around because their parents treat them like 6 year olds who are otherwise very much capable of behaving in a more mature way. And guess what... All those parents will tell you "I know my child and he/she is still too young/too immature/too much a child" for them to respect the fact that said child is in the process of growing up.

I dunno what to call them, pre-teens, tweens, a 13 year old is a teenager that much is clear. But they are not still children.

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#28 of 66 Old 06-11-2010, 02:53 AM
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No sense borrowing trouble. You have your dd to deal with and help through the trials of adolescence. That's your job. The boys have parents of their own, all of whom probably have some personal insights into dealing with rejection. That's their job. Your job is big. Don't go worrying about theirs.

It sounds like your dd is using you to set her own boundaries and maintain her personal comfort zone. Middle school is tricky. It's great that she's found a way. (Especially when someone asked her out in front of the entire drama class - by middle school standards, that's like proposing on live TV during the Super Bowl. No one should be put on the spot like that.)

Since she's been open with you about it, this might be a great opportunity for you to have a heart-to-heart with her about the circumstances under which she would want you to give her "permission" to "go out" with someone - what kind of person would she want to consider being involved with in that way?
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#29 of 66 Old 06-11-2010, 08:47 AM
 
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I dunno. My parents always said, about ANY situation, boys, being asked somewhere I don't want to go, bad party situation, that their job was to protect me if I needed them and they were fine with being "the bad guy." I was free to say, at any time, "My parents won't let me/ don't like/ prefer me to..." with no hurt feelings, and all of my peers accepted that. I probably used that excuse til I went to college. If you want her to be able to change her mind, she can say, "well, they changed their minds," or "maybe if they meet you, they will," and you could have a 5 minute conversation with the kid picking her up somewhere and give her an "okay."

It's hard to rise above the pressure to "date" at that young age. I did it, and I often was not nice about it. But when the situation warranted it, having the safety net of knowing that I wouldn't hurt my parents' feelings by using them helped a lot. I could explore new things and then pull back when I was uncomfortable. Your daughter sounds like a good kid. I bet as long as she knows you've got her back it will be fine.
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#30 of 66 Old 06-11-2010, 09:06 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ChristaN View Post
Probably not, but the reality is that having a "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" is fairly ubiquitous in our middle schools starting in 6th grade. Like I said earlier, I don't think that it entails much more than just saying that someone is your girlfriend around school and maybe going to school dances together.

I see this too in our middle school, and while to us it looks like pairing off doesn't entail much, I don't think that's quite right. I know from the teachers that there is often huge drama, tears, and anxiety related to the pairing off/breaking up cycle. Enough so that they are incredibly protective of the kid's space to just be kids and try to downplay the drama as much as possible. It's not always as simple as it seems.


There is a difference between an 11 y/o and a 13 y/o which has to be acknowledged for the OP's dd as well.
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