‘Nicola was 13 going on 20!’

When Nicola was 12, she came home with her ears pierced. I was really cross she hadn’t asked me first but soon that was the least of my worries. She started hitching her school skirt up so it was really short and several times I caught her trying to sneak out of the house with make-up plastered on her face.

She was barely a teenager but she was acting like a much older girl. My husband Doug found it really hard to deal with too and got overly protective of her, which didn’t help.

It wasn’t easy talking to Nic because she got really defensive. She’s the oldest too so it was new for all of us. Getting cross didn’t work but I did explain the trouble she could get herself into if she started attracting older boys. I think that shocked her a bit, she’d just wanted to impress her friends.

We ended up agreeing to compromise. I showed her how to shave her legs and bought her a powder compact and a clear lip gloss as long as she didn’t wear eyeshadow or lipstick. I bought her a new skirt for school too. It was a pencil skirt so more grown-up but it still went below the knee!

Nic’s 14 now and we still argue about what she’s allowed to do and wear but as long as we’re talking about it, I’m not too worried. When we’re curled up watching telly on the settee, I always realise she’s still really young deep down and needs her mum!
Catherine Watkinson, 38, from Darlington, County Durham