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Jennifer, School Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 397
Experience:  Collaborative parent consultation on everything from modifying behavior to child development.
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Dear Sir/Madam, I am very concerned about my 11 year old

Customer Question

Dear Sir/Madam, I am very concerned about my 11 year old daughter. She has been away from me for about 2 years, and finally now I am seeing her every weekend. She has always been a girl who loved pink but these few months, I observed she dislikes anything to do with a girl: e.g. anything pink, skirts, girl's fashion jewelry or toys, even feminine bed linen... Her two best friends at school are also boys; she refuses to use a handbag...She basically refuses anything that's for a girl. When I asked why she doesn't like girl's things any more, she didn't want to talk about it. I am very worried and don't understand, I only have one child and don't know so much about preteens. Could you kindly advise: is my daughter normal ? Why has her view of herself identity changed so much in 2 years? What can I do to encourage her to be a real girl, instead of trying to be boyish girl? What are the risks if she continues to be like this (could she turn into gay/trans-gender etc.)? Many thanks!
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Jennifer replied 7 years ago.
Hello and thanks for using!

There is nothing wrong with your daughter. As she enters into the teen years, two of her developmental tasks will be identity development (including the masculine / feminine role) and a movement toward independence.

She could simply be exploring who she is and trying out new things along the way. Her preferences may change several times over the next severeal years. There's no need to encourage her to be "more of a girl," in fact she may push back more simply because of the added pressure. There are no risks in losing interest in pink, skirts, etc. I'd be more concerned if you observed a drastic change in behavior that involved her daily moods, behaviors and self-esteem. If she seems like a happy child despite her change in interests, you have nothing to worry about.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Dear Jennifer,

Thank you very much for your reply. I wonder if her behavier has been influenced by her frienship with the boys - should she be encouraged to continue friendship with them? Also, after 2 years of my absence (my divorced ex's family have alienated her), we're getting back to our previous close relationship, but now after spending 1 day with me/my partner on weekend, she wouldn't sleep over for 1 night or go on a trip with us (she knows we love her very much) even every time she had a great time with us. What's stopping her and what should be my strategy to improve this situation (so that she can live with me happily like she did before)?
Expert:  Jennifer replied 7 years ago.
It could be influenced by her friendships, however both boys and girls could influence these preferences. Unless they are a bad influence on her behavior (getting into trouble, making her feel bad, etc.) then it doesn't sound like her friendships are a problem.

As for the overnight stay, look at it as her way of taking it slowly. A two year absence is a long time -- particularly to a child. She may just be opening back up slowly for fear of losing you again. Be honest with her -- Tell her you'd love to spend more time with her and ask her what she needs to feel comfortable with that. She may not be able to verbalize exactly why she isn't ready, so be empathetic and understanding in that regard. Move slowly... Invite her first for a full day. Then a full day / night. Allow a little space before inviting her for a weekend. Keep in mind that she may have friends at home she doesn't want to be away from for too long. Her friends are increasingly important to her at this age. One option may be to invite her over and allow her to invite a friend as well.
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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Dear Jennifer, Thank you so much for your insightful advice - exactly what i needed. I will surely to ask you for advice again in future. I wish i knew of you and this site earlier! Would recommend to all. Best regards, Y
Expert:  Jennifer replied 7 years ago.
Thanks so much for the kind feedback! I'm glad you find this site useful. Please feel free to ask for me by name regarding any future matters. Best of luck with your daughter!