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10 Topics You Should Discuss With Your Daughter

10 Topics You Should Discuss With Your Daughter

As soon as your daughter is thinking and talking, it's time to begin instilling important messages, because it will take years for her to absorb them. Each parent has personal priorities, but there are some principles that are basic to healthy and safe development for girls.

First, tell her that she's beautiful, just as she is. Let her know that she doesn't need makeup or the latest clothes , because she's a natural beauty. Tell her this no matter what she looks like.

Tell her that she's smart. Again, it doesn't matter what the reality is. Praise her every intellectual accomplishment or creative endeavor. Reward her best efforts, even if she doesn't always excel in school .

She needs to know that a woman can be happy without a man. Never pressure her to date or acquire a boyfriend. Point out happy and accomplished women who are single. Make it clear that it is absolutely unacceptable for a man to assault a woman—there is no excuse for it.

Let her know that you disapprove of snobbishness and cliques. Tell her to be open and friendly to everyone. This will pay off as she becomes known for her friendliness and people gravitate to her.

When she's old enough to walk to school or a friend's house by herself, warn her about strangers who will try to lure her , or who might lie and say you sent them to fetch her. Child safety advocates recommend the use of a password.

As she moves into adolescence, enforce the message about keeping her online identity quiet. Tell her about obvious dangers such as hitchhiking and drunk drivers, as well the rule that applies to every scam offer: If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Tell her to avoid driving or walking alone at night, and never to walk or drive while talking on a cellphone. She should drive with locked doors and never stop if someone asks for help or bumps into her. She should never be alone at night in a parking structure.

Warn her never to drink from a punch bowl. She should make sure her drink is poured from a bottle and then nurse it, taking small sips and making it last. Warn her about men who may try to get her drunk or high.

Convey to her that sex is not a joke or a casual matter. If she's involved with a boy, she must feel that she can come to you for help in protecting herself from pregnancy and disease. Don't wait—if you suspect she's in a physical relationship, ask her (without being judgmental) if she needs your help to obtain protection.

The right age for marriage is when she meets the right guy. They should both be open to the possibility of marriage before moving in together, and she needs a back-up plan if things don't work out. She doesn't want to be worrying about finding a new place and moving while she's nursing a broken heart.

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