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Mom Wants Daughter to Have Breast Reduction

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I am 16 years old and have a rather large chest size for my age. My mother is adamant about getting a breast reduction. I have discussed it with the doctor and I am not comfortable with doing it but my mother presses on. How do I convince her that I do not want this procedure? Also, she said that "we are going to change your wardrobe" this year because of my chest. I like the clothes I wear. I don't wear anything that shows a midriff or too much cleavage. How can I get her to see that she can't pick out all of my clothes? I don't get a say in what I wear and I am 16 years old and entering my junior year of high school. Thank you!

A: I think that we both know that your mother is having major problems with your having a large chest. My guess is that she cannot deal with the notion of your sexuality. Parents usually have a tough time recognizing that their kids are sexual beings and your breast development is sending up red flags in that area for her. Maybe she's reacting to her own childhood experience. If she developed large breasts in her adolescence, maybe she feels they brought her emotional, social and sexual problems. Maybe she thinks that girls and women with larger breasts are thought of as "easy" by boys and men.

If you are not suffering or very uncomfortable physically or emotionally due to the size of your chest, you should not get a breast reduction. I would be shocked and angered if any doctor would try to convince you to have this surgical procedure at your age - you haven't even finished growing - unless he deemed the size of your breasts was a serious medical or psychological problem. You are the only true judge of that and you should say "No" on both counts.

Please try to get a trusted female family or extended family member or friend to talk with your mother about her concerns. It would be great if you and your mom could see a family therapist to talk about these issues. Perhaps you could speak to your regular doctor, in confidence, and ask for his help in handling the situation. He may choose to be your advocate and try to work things through with your mother.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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