Crushes are a natural part of growing up—they can also be exciting, agonizing, confusing, and wonderful all at the same time. As adults, it is easy to see the innocence of a crush, but that also makes it easy to unintentionally minimize how powerful a crush can feel to your girl. It’s a struggle for any girl to ask questions or open up when she’s digging for the right words to use or feeling such a strong mix of unfamiliar emotions, but opening the door to conversations now can set an important and healthy precedent for the day when she begins a real relationship with someone and needs to know you’re there for her, no matter what.

To what end, crushes?

All the daydreaming, preoccupation, and drama that may accompany a crush can be exasperating.

Girl daydreaming

If ever you’re feeling at your wit’s end, it can be helpful to remember that crushes really do serve a purpose. A crush lets your girl learn a lot. She’ll . . .

  • try on all kinds of new feelings, sort of like going into a store and trying on all kinds of clothes without having to buy them;
  • experience, for the first time, romantic feelings;
  • begin to consider what she likes in other people;
  • learn how to deal with frustration if and when others do not think, act, or feel as she does;
Girl, boy and classmate at school
  • start to develop ways to cope when her nervous energy or desire to be liked in return gets the better of her;
  • come to understand what it means to be true to herself, even when her heart and mind are all aflutter.

Any one of these points can make a great conversation starter, especially if your girl is reluctant to talk or if, in her world at the moment, her crush feels enormous and all-encompassing.

Why so quiet?

Some girls don’t want to talk to their parents about crushes because they think their parents will disapprove. Others don’t talk to their parents because they’re afraid their parents will make fun of them. Sometimes talking about such personal feelings are just simply uncomfortable. And sometimes, she just doesn’t have the words to be able to describe what she’s feeling. All of that can make her feel vulnerable.

To help her open up...

Girl smiling at crush on bus

Pick a time that’s made for talking—when you’re together in the car or folding laundry right before bedtime, and ease in to the conversation. Ask what she thinks are the best things about her crush or how she feels when she’s around them. Maybe tell your girl about your own first crush. It’ll feel good to break the ice on this subject. It will also be that much easier to talk freely about boy issues once you’ve found some common ground.

Mom and girl talking

Above all, take the opportunity to make a pact: no matter what the circumstances, you’ll always hear each other out. There’s a lot of future stretching ahead of you and your family. Keep talking. You’ll be glad you did.

Adapted from A Smart Girls Guide: Boys. Surviving crushes, staying true to yourself, & other stuff. American Girl Publishing. © 2001, 2013 American Girl. All American Girl marks are trademarks of American Girl.