Um, haven't we seen this one before?
That girl needs to learn to delete her text messages or if she wants to save them forward them to an email address her nosy mother doesn't have access to and then delete them. Here's hoping MOM doesn't out her daughter's friends and relaxes. It's not like the two girls can knock each other up.
Maybe I just have déjà vu for no good reason? I don't know.
Well said. I agree the first thing is for MOM to sit down with her daughter.

Good luck and bless you for loving your child for the person she is, MOM. She's lucky to have you.
An important point: way to go mom. And don't out anyone. Just talk to your kid, she's she only one you actually have a responsibility to/for.
Good advice.

And great advice on deleting.

That said, just because a girl is feeling that way doesn't mean it's going to be true her whole life, and there is the slim chance the texts were "left to be found" - cause talking to one's parents is hard.

Let people out themselves when it's time.

Unless they're adult serving Republicans. Out those with impunity.
(serving = elected official; not the other kind, those you should leave alone, cause they have a hard enough time anyway)
A long heart-to-heart is definitely in order. At 12-13, this may well be the last chance for that. It won't be long before MOM becomes the Wicked Witch of the West in her daughter's eyes. Hey, it happens - sorry.

Dan, you're right. Anything short of outing either the daughter or her girlfriend is fair game. But that is definitely not.

Hope they can work through this. MOM sounds pretty level-headed about the whole thing, which is a good start.
I wish LC were here to give her advice. I can only imagine how badly it would mess up this young girl's head. Cheers to your levelheadedness and love for your daughter, MOM.
as long as there's more than just the 2 of them, doing nothing will probably work just as well.
I disagree. I think MOM should forget what she's seen and leave them alone. Her interference won't stop them from being together and might even push them to doing something. When young people start having feelings for each other they should have already gotten a talk about responsibility. At least you won't have to worry about her getting pregnant. You can't be with her twenty four seven so back off.
The gay agenda has worked!
Mothers can see their gay children in the same light as straight children without having a freak-out about being able to live a normal life.
Go MOM! This just goes to show we have won the battle and just need to wait a generation or so until the old guard dies off and the gays are just another section of society.
Wow, MOM. Don't read your teenager's text messages. Stop it now, unless you want your daughter sneaking out her window in the middle of the night to get something resembling privacy.

Don't admit you read those messages. Pretend it never happened. Next time, just ask her what she was texting about.
"And it's not like they're going to be alone, right?"

What does this mean? Are you expecting the mom to chaperone the entire night? Or do you think the girls wouldn't do something simply because their friends are around? You're deluded if you think they have to be alone together to do any experimenting.
I probably wouldn't mention the texts. Letting on too much might put the kid into a privacy panic at a time when trust and communication is key.

It would be a good time, though, to make it really clear that gay is okay, but sex (gay or straight) will have to wait. You could even make provisions to ensure that the kids sleep separately, without betraying your new knowledge. Later on, you could try to draw out your child with stuff like, "I like her a lot! How much do you like her?"
Should MOM be reading her kids messages? Maybe not all of them, but she does have a responsibility to keep her kids safe. If the person on the other end had been a creepy 45 year old guy asking for dirty panties it could have saved her kids life.
As for the question of sleepovers-if there's going to be a group of girls there will be giggles and pillow fights and refrigerator raids and maybe some kissing in the dark. All there needs to be is a house rule that young love interests don't get to stay in the same bedroom which will work all the way through college. A general set of rules for dating-where, how late, etc. will work for any relationship a 12 year old is likely to have.
Calling the other kids parents is a bad idea, but she might try inviting them for dinner or to a party. That way she might get an idea of how they feel about kids and sex.
Totally agree with Dan.

Have the sit down heart-to-heart with the daughter.

But for god's sakes don't out the friend to her parents, or either of them to their friends. That could be disastrous. Middle-school kids can be uber cruel. And her friend's parents might be total assholes.
As I understand it, a major reason for not wanting opposite-sex physical relations is due to pregnancy. Obviously not possible here.

Also, it might be true that hosting a (group) sleepover where a budding affection may be (somewhat) explored could be a very sensible and safe thing to do. Mom & Dad can maintain a safe location for open-mindedness, and establish long-term trust -- especially, I think, if they say nothing about the text messages, allow the sleepover, and allow a same-sex relations conversation to occur naturally, later on.

Perhaps Mom can initiate a non-specific chat about sexuality or sex and safety with the girls at the sleepover. Careful to avoid outing anyone of course.

It seems that allowing the sleepover is a wonderful opportunity to open your heart some more. As there is truly little risk involved.

All the best Mom and Dad! And little ones too.
Think you nailed it, Dan.

Personally, I'm thinking I might (might!) allow my kids to have gay or lesbian sleepovers at age 13, even though there's no way in hell I'd allow them to have straight couple sleep overs. Why the double-standard? Because gay and lesbian 13-year-olds don't get each other pregnant.
the weirdest part of the letter to me is why a 12 year old has/needs a cell phone. i guess that means i'm old. sigh.
I'd like to know how MOM was able to read her daughter's text messages. Did she take the cellphone while her daughter wasn't looking and go through all the messages? Are they being recorded and saved on a password protected website provided by the cellphone carrier that the daughter knows nothing about? I can't agree with the mother doing this because she states that her reason was "I noticed a lot of texting going on" which doesn't sound like something suspicious in and of itself.

But I can't see such a liberal mom practicing bad habits such as spying on her own kid for little to no reason. I would honestly no tell the daughter she found the text messages because that will kill trust and cause the daughter to start bad habits of her own. It's not likely that during this sleep over those two are going to fool around, not with a bunch of other girls near by that could out them as dykes and ruin their lives at school.

Well, that's just me. Dan is completely right in his advice, and good on MOM for being so liberal. Other parents should be as open minded.
For olds out there: Reading a teenager's text messages is equivalent to reading their diary or listening in on their phone calls. That is, something good parents don't admit to unless there's a REALLY good reason.

Who cares about her making out with her first crush? The only issue here is MOM being a creep.
It's not a matter of being "old" or not - it's a matter of whether you have kids or not. And it isn't very hard to tell who does and who doesn't here.
@22 - I am an "old" and you nailed it.
Straight, normal, teenage girls as well as budding lesbians have been making out with other teenage girls at sleepovers since time began. Literally. Scientists just found fossilized teenage neanderthal girls in sapphic embrace surrounded by neolithic pizza boxes and wrapped in bear-skin snuggies.

MOM needs to stop snooping and leave the kids alone.
god dan is getting soft.
it is for the good of the cause.
it's time her parents were smashed in the face with reality.
Those of you criticizing MOM for reading her daughter's texts probably don't have kids. My daughter is only 9, but she knows that we read her emails and will continue to do so if and when we feel like it. Email and texts are NOT the same as a diary. They are communication with the outside world. I want to know who my kids are talking to over the intertubes. It's about helping them avoid stupid mistakes and dangerous situations, not snooping for the sake of snooping.

Definitely for the love of both children don't out the young love interest to her parents. At 15, my first girlfriend and I were having sleepover and her parents burst in on us at 3 am as we were cuddling in bed. I was shoved out onto the street and they quickly moved her to a reform school in Alabama. for a year they shuttled her between Baptist pray-the-gay out schools and finally she ended up with her grandparents in Birmingham at a public school. After she had fallen in love with another girl at the school and the girl outed her publicly, she hung herself with a scarf I had given her for her birthday from her cousin's bunkbed. I didn't find out until 3 weeks after the funeral and nearly 6 years later I still cry when I hear Sarah Mclaughlen "Aidia".

Don't out people, unless they are publicly halting the expansion of rights to gay people
Even blessed cherubic 13 year old Lesbians can spread HPV.
And current vaccines don't protect against the strains most likely to be shared...
Because queers who are "are publicly halting the expansion of rights to gay people" deserve to be outed without their consent, harassed and driven to suicide.
@28 - @30: sock puppetry
Dan, did you know that homosexual men should have an anal Pap Smear annually?
Are you current?

Did you know that condoms do not protect from the HPV virus because the areas around the genitals including the inner thigh area are not covered, thus exposing these areas to the infected person’s skin?

That's scary.

Some people think that anal sex and oral sex and GAY SEX are 100% foolproof and safe but that is untrue.
Even when a condom is used.

Perhaps that is why homosexual men have anal cancer 17-31 times as much as heterosexual men?
I wonder...
31 how exactly do you define sock puppetry, mr helpful?
@33 "Sock puppetry: euphemism for 'You're a douche'."

Ha. Suck Puppet. You're funny!
I disagree Dan. I feel like this Mom is writing to you for help, but also to get a little pat on the back for being so open minded by not making the sexuality thing into a big deal.

But guess what MOM, you totally betrayed the trust of your child and if you bring any of this up your child will be pissed, and rightly so. No amount of open mindedness is going to make that ok.

You should keep an eye on things, because you can't un-know something, but you should not bring this up with her. Her sexuality is her sexuality, and just because you are cool with her no matter what doesn't mean you can force her to talk about things she's clearly not ready to.
My wife grew up messing around with a lot of her playmates and we both agree Treacle has the best advice.
@27: Exactly so. We're talking about a 12-year-old here, not a 16-year-old. Mom has a responsibility to be aware of who her kid is exchanging texts (and e-mails and Tweets) with. What she needs to do, though, is make sure the kid knows that Mom is keeping tabs. Sneaking around is not cool.

It's pretty clear who among the commenters has never raised a teenager.
I had group coed sleepovers in high school, which was only one or two years older than this girl. As far as I know, no sex ever happened. Maaaybe some games of spin the bottle, but even they didn't go very far. If there's a group, and the parents are in the house and can come in now and then with snacks, I wouldn't worry that they'll go any farther than maybe kissing, and kissing isn't that big a deal. You think they're going to, what, have oral sex at a group sleepover with other people around? I doubt it. Maybe some snuggling, but that's not the end of the world with either a girl or boy. And if they're really so determined to have sex that they'll do it in a room full of other girls, then they'll also be willing to do it in the daytime so your other rules won't work anyway.

Talk to your daughter but don't make a huge big deal out of it and don't try to uninvite the other girl. Just say no sleepovers with ONLY that other girl in the same room.
@ 35, and others, 13 year olds do not have a right to privacy from their parents. MOM, however, has every responsibility to monitor her daughter's communications. There are lines of privacy and respect, of course, but if MOM is being 100% truthful then she has not crossed any.

5280 is right - you can tell who the parents and who the non-parents are.
Since when did a pre-teen sleepover involve sleeping in the same bed? When I was that age, everyone had sleeping bags and we all sacked out on the floor of the living room. Presumably not ALL the girls are sharing one bed together . . . so if there was going to be an exception for this girl, that would be a good place to start.
@19: That double standard is bullshit. It's not just about teen pregnancy.

Kids shouldn't be having sex (straight OR gay) until they fully understand all the feelings that come along with sex and how to properly handle those feelings.

At 12/13, they do not have that understanding.
Telling 13 year olds they should not be having sex has been such a terrific success so far, let's just stick with that. Oh, wait...

Sleepovers should involve a sleeping bag for each child in a public space in the house. They should also involve adults who show up periodically and without warning.

I would talk to my kid about the text. It's time.
I'm a liberal mom who has checked her kids text messages and emails. Kids usually leave accounts open and texts undeleted for a reason (as do adults.)

I have no regrets about what I did. I talked to my son immediately about what I found and both times there was a real problem that required adult intervention, he just didn't know how to ask for it.

I am solely responsible for launching a healthy, whole, and compassionate human being into the world. Averting my eyes from what is right infront of me so I can hang onto some hipster bullshit idea of what a liberal mom is supposed to be is just not going to happen.
Regardless of your rights as a parent, making a huge deal out of a 13-year-old's crush--which as far as you know will only last until next week--is a totally inappropriate overreaction. And cross-examining her about her putative sexual orientation--which you only learned about through snooping--will not endear you to her.

Like it or not, she's already at an age at which she wants privacy to explore her feelings (obviously--as did all of us!), and she has just had a very private conversation that probably took a lot of courage. For God's sake, leave her alone right now. Would you have wanted your parents to know about every conversation you had at that age, or to find out who you had a crush on and insist on talking to you all about it? Confronting her will embarrass her, show her that she can't trust you to respect her privacy, and create a giant drama for no reason.

And confronting the other 13-year-old--the one who isn't your daughter and had no idea you were reading her texts--to tell her how supportive you are and that you don't want her to get too intimate with your daughter? Intrusive, humiliating, and totally inappropriate.
@MT3, I'm in my late 20s, married, and I don't "fully understand all the feelings that come along with sex," nor do I expect to within my lifetime. Should I stop putting out?

I do agree that the double standard based on likelihood of pregnancy is stupid, and I hope that I will never have to deal with a sexually active 12-year-old, but whatever limited understanding of the emotional side of sex we each arrive at is something that we come to through exploration. If none of us started 'til we had it figured out, we'd live (sexually) joyless lives that started in test tubes.
The people who claim you can tell who here is a parent and who isn't are full of it. I raised two daughters, who are now smart, savvy young adults -- and we all still like each other. I did not read diaries, emails, or text messages. Doing so would have killed trust, and your kid's trust is all you've got to work with during the teen years. Destroy that, and your toolbox is empty.

Talk, yes -- about intimacy and responsibility and so on -- but impersonally. You explore the topics without reference to anyone actually present, and kids are more likely to hear you.

Thirteen-year-old girls at a slumber party are going to watch annoying movies and play Truth or Dare all night and talk about sex and text all the boys they know and shriek a lot. Seriously. A lot. Eventually at 3 or 4 in the morning, they'll have headaches and get into little snits at each other because they're so exhausted, and they finally pass out from too much shrieking. How much worrisome sexual activity do you imagine is going to happen in that kind of setting?

Take a breath, MOM. This is only the beginning.
Oh, and margery @45 is exactly absolutely right.
@46 YES. Stop putting out. Your writing makes you sound like you turn into a raging obsessive psycho when someone's cock or fingers penetrate you, even if it's a one night stand.
OK -- I've asked this before and am fully aware that I'm a freaking idiot, but can someone point out the link to the letter-of-the-day archives page? Not this page, w/ the letter, his response, and all the comments (obviously) but the one w/ the multiple letters, that lets you scroll down to pick & choose those ones to read in their entirety. Am I the only one who has a difficult time w/ this issue? Should I reconsider going back and looking into that GED program?
@47 correct. Also, I've had gay sex at a straight sleepover. Yay for being covert.

The kids will do what they're comfortable with if you raised them right. Having sex at 13 was right for me, and did not lead to any more or less fucked up emotions than I would have had without sex. Doing a 1-on-1 sleepover is not appropriate if you know that the other person is an object of smit. Sleepover parties are OK. Encourage condom use, and buy them for the girl in case she wants to experiment with boys. And, remind her that she should only do things when she wants to...not be pressured into it.

At least she's experimenting with someone her own age where the experimentation will be natural and mutual and not as a molestation by some older person. Shit, experimentation is what teenage life is all about!
A-ha! (gotta click on the green "savage love" box at the top of the page. It should maybe be more clearly indicated somewhere what that link is to -- "complete LOTD archives" or something like that. Since it's such a fun link.)
MOM needs to accept the fact that her girl is going to have sex. She can't stop it. She can only reduce the risky chances her daughter takes. "Adult supervision" will just encourage the girl to do things in riskier ways somewhere other than home. MOM should not acknowledge that she read the text messages. If trust gets broken, then rational conversations about sex are no longer an option.

MOM just needs to have a frank and nonjudgmental discussion that starts with "I can't stop you from having sex, but I can make sure you know what kinds of behaviors are stupid." STD and pregnancy issues to the top of the list of discussion topics. The kid also needs to learn that all digital communication is permanent. That's a way more potentially damaging mistake than having sex with other girls. Teaching her daughter to keep her sexual relations relatively private is also more important for that matter.
Holy mother of the moon, hasn't anyone else here taken child developmental psychology?

Normal girls in a functional, safe family environment become sexually curious (I'll show you mine, you show me yours, Where did I come from, etc.) as early as age 8. By the time they're twelve, they're probably into some interactive exploration with peers. Courtship (i.e. dating) is not typically connected to physical (i.e. touchy-feely) exploration, unless the peer is older and initiates to which a girl might or might not consent. By age 13, some girls (though not many) are full-on sexually active without it being an indicator of dysfunction (see below). The number of girls who are sexually active rapidly increases with each additional year.

In a number of anthropological studies (outside the United States, some but not all contemporary primitive cultures) females would almost invariably choose a female partner for early exploration, and only involve themselves with males as they moved into full sexual maturity (14-18 years). It is commonplace within the US for girls to practice with other girls a variety of flirting, courtship and sexual exchanges. This does not mean your girl is gay, or even necessarily bi, but has essentially found a study partner regarding sex, boys, courtship and what it means to be a woman. If a girl is eighteen or older and still likes girls, then she's lesbian. If she likes boys too, she's bisexual. Before that, she could still be going through a phase. Heck, she may still be going through a phase when adult; we do that.

Regarding dysfunction: Internal dysfunctions (such as a psycho-effective disorder) and familial dysfunctions (such as a drunken or abusive parent) manifest in premature sexuality or hypersexuality more often than the reverse. A child who is already menstruating, a tween who is sexually forward, or sexually active, or an early teen with a rapid turnover of partners, or who exhibits inappropriately overt behavior, or approaches inappropriate subjects (age-inappropriate or family) can be indicative of a coping mechanism, or of subverted self-expression (i.e. a cry for help or expression of angst and resentment) in response to either an internal disorder, or an unsafe living environment.

By far, statistically, more teenaged girls are sexually active than teenaged boys of the same age. Females tend to date and sexually engage males that are three to eight years older than they. This tends to level out in the mid-twenties.

In the United states, American society is not only hyperconscious of the danger of child predation (which is lower than people think, and while kids are propositioned sexually online with frequency, 9/10 of the time it's by peers. Almost all such propositions are ignored), but we're scared silly of our kids growing up and sexualizing, hence we tend to take steps to delay such exploration until they're supposedly independent.

The elevation of the minimum age for alcohol consumption to 21 presents a cautionary tale in this regard: we have even more alcohol-related deaths after the change than before; more young people now 21-24 die due to alcohol related accidents (such as drunk driving) than did 18-21 year-olds before the law was changed, since more adults have to drive, unfamiliarity with how their bodies respond to alcohol can be more dangerous. Considering childhood (and now adolescence) is supposed to be a time of trial and error, when we're supposed to make our mistakes and learn about our capabilities and limits, it remains confounding to some of us why we want to withhold certain kinds of experiences and mistakes until they're out of our hands to protect, or at least help them back up.

Incidentally, almost all parental control software packages that keep kids from viewing porn will also block most non-christian religious sites and most sex-information sites but will not block anti-gay hate sites. The censorship catalogs used by most such programs are run and maintained by conservative churches in the US, or companies tied closely to them, so be careful who you choose to censor the net when you're not supervising your children.
Just don't say anything. It all seems very normal. Just let your daughter know that you will be closely supervising her sleepover like a good mother and let it go.
Oh for the love of God...

I was dating a girl at thirteen. If my mother had read my texts, tried to stop us seeing one another, or attempted to TALK to me about it AFTER READING MY TEXTS, I would be furious! Still! And the girl I dated then was abusive!

Your daughter has a right to date anyone she likes. She even has a right to fool around with anyone she likes (she's thirteen - she's not going to go "all the way" with someone else in a room full of her friends). You do not have the right to read her texts. Honestly, if you treat your daughter as if she's not capable of making good choices, she won't MAKE good choices.

And the "I read her texts, should I now barge into her life and humiliate her?" really made my skin crawl.
Is it just my browser or the Stranger is acting kind of weird today? It's hard to access the latest blog posts and the column.
@ 27 -

Being a parent doesn't mean you're RIGHT - it just means you have a different set of priorities that you bring to the table - whether these priorities are your soothing your own anxieties or protecting your child are an open question. With that said, yes, I have a kid.

First of all - by telling your daughter that you read her emails, you have ensured that you will only see what she wants you to see as she gets older. You may feel very satisfied with yourself and how well you are protecting your child, but that's because you deliberately allowed that illusion to take place. It's not real, just so you know.

Of course I think a parent can "snoop" into a child's personal material if they think it's in the best interest of protecting their child. However, this huge violation of trust comes with consequences for both the parent and the child. Sometimes, that consequence is that you have to squirm a little while keeping your damn mouth shut, and you don't get to ease your anxiety by making everyone else feel uncomfortable and humiliated about something innocent that you wish wasn't happening. Her peace of mind should come first, unless you really believe something terrible is about to happen.

The best way to handle this? Play dumb and hover. "Girls! I made popcorn! And I picked out a sleeping spot out for everyone! Huh? Why would you want to sleep in the same bed? What? Can you speak up a little honey? Oh, Talky Tina who never keeps a secret, why don't you sleep RIGHT HERE so you can see the birthday girl all night. I'm going to leave a BIG NIGHT LIGHT on so no one gets scared."

A little mortification goes a long way.
Thank you @47. Nailed it on the head, in my worldview.

But I also think that the approach needs to vary depending on the individual in question. Your progeny that are trustworthy should be trusted; those that aren't probably do need the additional oversight.
I'm confused as to why talking to the daughter is assumed to be confronting or humiliating. I'm also perplexed as to why parents would encourage their teens to believe that the written word is invisible to adults.

My relationship with my kid is built on honesty and respect. "You left your email account open, I read X. Let's talk about it" is not a huge violation of trust so much as it is the logical consequence of that action for children and adults alike.

Both times I've been through this with my kid I also reviewed with him how to erase/secure communications.

I've said it once but I'll say it again; teens do not always know how to ask for help, just like adults. I'm not going to ignore signs nor am I going to lie to my kid about something I've found. I don't play dumb with anyone, least of all my teenager.
I can't get past the leads to a 404 error.
Nevermind, found a workaround.
Boy, it sure is a good thing Eric Harris' and Dylan Klebold's mothers "respected their privacy" and didn't "snoop" on their computers, because that violation of trust probably would have ruined their whole day.
61, a lot of these people posting here clearly had troubled relationships with their parents growing up, and are responding to this scenario through that lens.

One thing that's missing from the MOM's letter, which is making this open to (mis)interpretation, is whether MOM already made clear to her daughter that she would monitor her calls and texts or not, and whether she would allow her girl greater autonomy as she grew or not. I'd bet that a lot of "OMG you're driving your daughter away" reactions I'm reading had parents who behaved like overlords rather than parents whose job it was to give guidance but also respect their children's space (which ought to still be rather tight at 12, but getting looser as the kids grow). They all seem to be missing the very clear respect MOM already has for her daughter and the fact that she WILL let her date whomever.

Each case is unique. Some kids mature faster than others and earn autonomy before others; most kids just think they're growing that fast. Some kids are more compliant, others more rebellious. Some parents handle these things well, others don't. Right now, I'd say MOM is handling this extremely well, as evidenced by her seeking advice without just flipping out (which she does seem ready to do). Dan gave a great answer, and all should be well if she follows his advice. Those of you with unresolved issues with your own parents are out of line to dog on MOM like you have.
What, no "Don't snoop." ?

Frankly, I say "Don't snoop." Fucking ask your kid if you think there's something up. If they get all shifty-eyed, ride their ass about it. But don't snoop in their text messages unless you've already set a ground rule that their text messages are not private.
@54- right on! That's exactly what I was thinking while I was reading the comments. Myself, and lots of my friends, totally experimented with each other as kids. Not all of us turned out to be gay or even bi. So, if MOM is worried about her daughter licking pussy, well, she probably already has.
But the one concern is STDs. Why does everyone keep saying gay sex is ok because the kids can't get pregnant? And yes, I know, how many STDs could a 13 year old girl spread around? Well, kids do get cold sores. And kids can get yeast infections. And urinary tract infections. There are definitely health concerns here.
MOM, just have the sex talk with your daughter and then trust her to make good decisions. That's all any parent can do.
@64- Because every high school kid is ready to go on a killing spree and there's no way to notice any problems besides violating their privacy. That's fucked up.

A) If the rule is "Your texts are not private." then the kid has no expectation of privacy. If the parents want to read the kid's texts, than they should have made that rule when they gave the kid a phone. I fully expect to implement such a rule when my daughter is old enough to have a phone. It does not sound like this mom had that rule.

B) My daughter will have a phone because neither her mother nor I have a land line, and I don't want to have to hand her my phone a hundred times a day because she just got a text.

C) Kids will have some fairly advanced sex at sleepovers. At least I did, and several of my peers. At the same sleepover. Great sleepover.

D) Kids have sex. Frankly, I'm hoping that my daughter is GUG. Boys are icky, I know, I am one.

E) Parents just don't understand.
Those smug folks saying that 'you can tell who the parents and non-parents are here' are just looking at the world through their own lens. You know, the lens that shows that they are loosing control of their kids and will have to learn to accept their evolution.
Just have the sleepover in the living room for pete's sake. Knowing their parents can walk in at any time is gonna keep them from going ridiculously pervy wild. And agreed about what an overreaction it is to have a sit down with the other girls parents and the whole 9 yards. They didn't just get engaged, its a silly 13-yr old text conversation for now.
I find this an odd position for you, Fifty-Two-Eighty @64.

First off, the Columbine massacre was an anomaly. Schools, these days, are safer than ever. Yes, spree shootings are terribly dramatic and make great news, but more students get killed by their own fathers or in pregnancy contingencies.

Secondly, as heinous as the Columbine massacre was, it did start national awareness by the FBI (which trickled down to local authorities and teachers) about the dangers of letting bullying go unchecked. If Klebold's mom did intervene, then the guys who called them the Trenchcoat Homosexual Mafia on national news would still reign in the streets. Those thirteen lives have (I speculate) made millions that much more tolerable.
I have to agree with Iris @ 47. My daughter is 17, and I would never read anything that she considered private, online or off. I raised her to have common sense and expected it of her, and amazingly enough it seems to have worked. I trust her, she trusts me. If there is a problem, she comes to me and she knows I will help. If that is hipster liberal bullshit, I'll take it thanks.
Uriel, that's so ludicrous I don't even know how to respond to it. Seriously, "the world's a better place because Columbine happened?" Whew. I'm happy I don't live in your head.
Even though I just skimmed the comments, nobody seems to be mentioning a very important fact: The daughter might just be questioning and experimenting. Not a huge deal. I can understand the group sleep over thing/ couple sleep over, but I wish Dan had made it more explicit. MOM was jumping to conclusions about her daughter's sexuality. Not a good way to start a conversation.
Interesting, Fifty-Two-Eighty @73, I misjudged you, but that wouldn't be the first time. I'd say my head's not that scary, but then again I'm quite accustomed to it.

Still, I assume you mean ludicrous from the perspective of pure deontological ethics, in which case I'd agree. I allow myself more than a little indulgence of consequentalism, though, and can recognize that sometimes an outcome of an atrocity outweighs the initial horror of it.

Hence, for example, (treading shamelessly across the Godwin Pacific Theater threshold here) while I think the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima was, in and of itself a terrible, terrible thing. I think that the Japanese surrender under threat of such a monstrosity ultimately saved countless lives. Was it a war crime? Debatably. Was it condonable under the circumstances? Absolutely.

Of course, you may think bullies are less of a threat than I do (my personal experience does skew me in that regard). But there is also a difference between my appreciation of the outcome and saying that the massacre was justified (which I don't). Am I thankful for the changes in society that stemmed from Columbine? Absolutely. Would I conspire to create a Columbine incident to incur such a change? No.

Still so ludicrous?
@ 75, do you realize that the whole bully thing about Columbine was a myth? Harris and Klebold were not outcasts, nor were they bullied.
Uriel, I don't want to let this thread get de-railed into a discussion of whether Columbine was a bad thing or not. It was, and I'd love to be able to wipe those images from my mind, because, you see, I was there.

My point, which you seem to have missed, was that a little bit of "snooping" by the killers' mothers would have avoided the tragedy altogether. And regardless of your opinions, I happen to believe that would have been a very good thing indeed.
Fifty-Two-Eighty @77 I'm sorry.

Matt from Denver @76 I didn't know that, but it's irrelevant.

What matters to me regarding the Columbine incident is that it triggered the FBI study into causes of school homicides, and found that assaults by and against bullies were enough of a problem to be worth starting an awareness program regarding bullies. With all due respect to Fifty-Two-Eighty's experiences, the apathy with which attacks by bullies against me and mine were dismissed by teachers and other supposed authorities has affected me about as profoundly as the attacks themselves. Needless to say, Just as Fifty-Two-Eighty has his biases, I have mine.

Getting back to the issue of a child's privacy, I don't have a solid opinion, though I don't think Fifty-Two-Eighty's example of Columbine is appropriate (cases that extreme are very rare), but I can imagine plenty of more common scenarios that are (e.g. Contact with a child predator, drug use and plans of suicide, for starters) and that would be helped by appropriate adult intervention.

The problem I have is trusting parents to decide when to act, and to act appropriately. Just as NSA wiretaps and Patriot Act privacy breaches were abused by the Bush administration, privacy breaches on kids are commonly abused by parents. And they often do not intervene in an appropriate manner.

That said, for the time being, the ideal amount of observation to which a child is subjected, and the level of freedom she's allowed really is going to be specific to each parent / child relationship. Our catalogued parenting techniques are not yet advanced enough to determine these limits.
@76- they weren't? Excuse my ignorance.
@ U-238, keep in mind that 5280 has a larger point with the Columbine comparison; namely, that parents can keep their kids out of trouble if they keep tabs on them. Yes, Harris and Klebold were really extreme examples of this, but they're hardly the only teens who get into trouble when the parents take a hands-off approach.
Children do NOT have a right to privacy. What you put out there on myspace, facebook, texts and e-mails is PERMANENT and can be discovered even after you've deleted everything. That's something kids need to know.

I think MOM should let her daughter know that she can have her cell phone, e-mail accounts, facebook and myspace accounts, but that MOM will be monitoring them. This will teach the daughter a little discretion. She doesn't need to tell or talk about the possiblity of her kid being gay (because at 12, girls generally don't know what their orientation will be, seeing as how female sexuality is generally fluid). Don't talk to your kid about her friend and her "exploring" unless you find something that is of real concern. Don't freak out. Calm down, let your kid know she has access to this technology at your discretion, that you have the right to monitor her activities, and that if you find something of concern, it will be taken away. Kids will find some other way to communicate, but you don't have to make it easy for her. You're her parent, not her friend. You don't need her to like you, so stop being wishy-washy and re-establish the fact that you are the parent, you make the rules, and if she wants total privacy, she can wait until she's 16 or 18, has a job, and then get her own cell phone plan. She's 12, for Pete's sake, not 20!
Not just cold sores, yeast infections and urinary tract infections. In a group of 6 or 8 13 year olds there is a pretty good chance at least one of them has had intercourse with an (older) male. So she contributes all the goodies he has collected to the party.
Fifty-Two-Eighty @ 77,

I'm so, so sorry, love.
Kimmie, I was there as a "first responder," not one of the kids, but it didn't make it any easier to take.

No it doesn't, sweetie. Your talking to a former EMT , I've seen my share of human carnage. I'm still sorry that you had to see it.

Do you like scotch? I'll have some Laphoraig in your honor tonight.

Take care.
32 years on the force (now retired) - I've seen it all too, but that was a bad one.

I'm definitely a Scotch drinker, but prefer Highlands myself (Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, etc.). Maybe if this fucking snowstorm let's up I can make it to the bank later today and buy a bottle for myself tonight.
I hope that snowstorm lets up. (I agree, Glenlivet, is lovely with its vanilla-like almost bourbon flair. Which is good, because I like bourbon as well, Elijah Craig, Wild Turkey ...) I hope you can get a bottle. In my humble opinion a bottle is a life necessity.
@81 - Exactly!

Hell yes, a parent should know what their 12 year old is doing on the internet/cell phone. But they should also let the kid know that from the beginning - they have access to technology at the parents' discretion.

Kids who believe that anything they post/text/e-mail is completely private are the ones who end up shocked when the naked picture they "sexted" to the boy they like ends up posted to everyone in school.
Matt @80, a point to which I concurr.

It remains, for me, a tricky business since some parents (as an example scenario) regard any sign of sexuality as an indication of moral decay, and believe proper response is to take a rod to their kid's hide, which is why I cannot necessarily advocate Orwellian levels of observation as ideal for our children.

Imagine if, when the state monitored our daily behavior and detected an anomaly (i.e. pot use or a homosexual relationship), they'd first ask, is this deviance adversely affecting her life or anyone else's; if the answer was no, they'd leave it alone, and if yes they'd gently broach the subject and offer rehabilitation options. If this were the case, our concern for civil privacy would be significantly less than it is.

I think children, ideally, should be monitored, and parents should respond sparingly (i.e. when a child's behavior is hurting himself or others) and appropriately (leaning towards guidance, not discipline). And I think most parents in contemporary America cannot be trusted to do that.

I also, however, concede that I don't have any currently feasible solutions.
Crap. Sorry about the spelling.
Its awful that mom read messages that were meant to be private. And it's awful that sexual identity is being stamped on these girls by mom and/or others. If the girls had just "played it straight"--so to speak-- they could have gotten it on with no one being the wiser and no one considering outing them or confronting them over what is (or should be) a normal phase of adolescent sexual exploration.

Surely I'm not the only one to have explored sexuality with friends at sleep-overs and elsewhere? A word to wise parents: if your adolescent kids are being private about it and it isn't harmful (and I mean truly harmful, not merely offensive to your probably hypocritical morality), pretend not to see it. Ignore it. Leave adolescents to be adolescents and grow up to be sexually secure adults free from the scars of unwarranted intervention.
@20, from_ohio: No, it just means that you're from Ohio. Hur hur. (Thank you, I'll be here all week. Thankfully that's only for a few hours more.)

Sailoreic at 43 had some pretty good advice. And I particularly enjoyed Uriel-238's comments at 54, even though I usually find him kinda tiresome. (Hey Uriel!) On the subject of which, a friend of mine (who used to work on ships) mentioned that when sailors go on their first tour, their only job is to screw up. Kinda like being a kid, really. It's much more important for your kid to know that IF they screw up big-time you're not (only) going to stomp on them but that you'll be there to help them out. (And no, I'm not a parent, but I do remember being a kid.)

Ha! Fer real? NOBODY understands those feelings or how to manage them until they've had them, regardless of age.

In fact, I'm 30, have been in several LTRs, and I still don't know how to manage them.

So good luck with that conversation, parents. ;)

IMHO, which will be entirely ignored by people with actual children, parents should make sure their kids know about safety, and then back the fuck off. If they want to have sex, they will. Don't give them an incentive to hide it from you by forbidding it. That'll only make it hard for them to ask for help if they end up needing it.
I don't really see much of an issue. Everyone sleeps in their own sleeping bag, nobody gets special treatment. If you really want to bring it down to fairness, tell your daughter to sleep in a sleeping bag too. Then all the girls feel like they're being treated EXTRA equally.

There, no issues about sleeping in the same bed. This isn't to say that they might not sneak around in the middle of the night, but honestly, how much trouble are they going to get into? If they share an illicit smooch in the middle of the night, it's not a lot to worry about; I don't think they can have any sort of all-out fucking session while they're surrounded by their friends.
@2 Great advice, all the sexual predators out there should give you a standing ovation. This is a thirteen year old girl, not an adult. Her parents would be negligent if they didn't monitor her use of the Internet. They remain legally and morally responsible for her and her actions. Anyone who assumes anything they do on the Internet is private is kidding themselves.
I admit my ignorance. What is the prevalence of STDs among non-heterosexual 12-13 year old girls? I know STDs, not just pregnancy, is a concern for parents of straight kids and is also a reason to forbid mixed sleepovers. I have no clue whether this would be a concern here. Given the age of the girls I suspect not, but then I don't how easy or prevalent same sex hooking up is at that age compared to their heterosexual compatriots..
For all you purists and sticklers for accuracy. I was using the Internet genericly for all forms of electronic communication.

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