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How to deal with my daughter who behaves like a boy?

Q: I have a daughter aged 15 who believes that she is a boy and behaves like one. Her physical growth is normal but she is hyper active and poor in her studies and highly disorderly in her day to day activities. She clings to me all the time and refuse to listen to any one who tries to tell her to change her ways. Many a times it becomes very difficult to contain her both when she is happy as well as angry. She never mixes with girls of her age and likes to dress like boys. She has been a social embarrassment for me due to which I have been avoiding social contacts. Please advise what is the remedy? How can I mend her ways and divert her attention to studies instead of her gender?

A:It is good that you have asked for some help with your daughter, at least now. I have heard of such problems when the child is 4 or 5 years old, but not after puberty. By fifteen years, the female system would have attained maturity and it is surprising that your daughter thinks that she is a boy, despite her own physiological functions and development. Perhaps a frank explanation of the male and female bodies, with diagrams, would be necessary. She must see that she is a girl and accept the fact. If you feel hesitant to do this yourself, you should seek the help of a Psychologist, Counselor or a Psychiatrist to talk to the girl and to listen to her. If these categories of people are not available to you, get the help of a gentle and wise friend or aunt or teacher, who will talk to the girl. Perhaps the family wanted a boy, when she was born and she carries the memory of that and would like to be what they wanted. Or else she has a brother or cousin, who gets more freedom than she does and she wants to be like him. In your letter, you have not mentioned the other members in the family and household; all of them will have a direct or indirect effect on her thinking. So it may be good to get their cooperation, rather than act as if it a secret that one should suppress. All people have both male and female hormones. It is the dominance of one set that actually determines the gender. Some people may have been born with near equal amounts of male and female hormones and hence have some confusion about their sex role. After you have consulted a doctor and a Psychologist, it may be necessary to see a specialist in Endocrinology who can also assist her system with the required supplements. Once she accepts that she is female in her body and has to behave appropriately in society, let her take up sports and outdoor activities that satisfy her. Do not force her into needlework and cooking if she is not interested. Give her emotional support as she adjusts to the new advice. Encourage her and give her help to do well in her studies, because that is the only sure way that she can have a career after her education is completed. Let the girls father also join you in the plans you make for her. All the best.

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