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Daughter Not Ready to Date

Question:

I recently discovered my 14-year-old freshman daughter is involved in a relationship with an 18-year-old who is out of high school. My daughter has known this young man for years through friends. It only came to my attention during the last couple of months she is more than friends with him.

My daughter phoned this young man a couple of months ago. I explained to her at the time that further contact was unacceptable. I heard from others that the situation may still be ongoing. I confronted her directly and asked whether this was true. She told me it wasn’t. I found a letter she wrote the boy, which she dropped in our driveway, discussing their one-month anniversary. I confronted her and she said yes, she was still talking to him.

He calls her but masks his number. She also sees him for about five minutes before attending after-school sports, when he picks up other kids from school. I told her this was unacceptable and phoned the young man and told him the same.

I have been supervising my daughter very closely, limiting her phone and Internet use, etc. My concern is that she insists she is in love with this young man and she wants to be with him. She has begged me to meet him and to allow them to spend time together under my supervision. My problem is that I do not condone the age difference or the lying and sneaking around. I told her I believe she is capable of having feelings for someone, that is natural, etc. I also explained that they are at very different points in their lives and have different needs and wants. I told her that if this relationship was meant to be, then he would need to wait for her to be of age.

I am concerned about her sadness and her insistence that she will continue this relationship in some way. She has spent some time with family and seems content sometimes. She is still excited about school and sports. She also expresses anger or tears at other moments. I am not sure if I should just try to wait this out and stand firm or if there is more to be concerned about. The discipline for her lying — which is loss of privileges and increased supervision — and the refusal to let her see this young man have put a rift in my relationship with her. Any insight or suggestions or tips on what is normal versus when to be concerned would greatly help.

 

 

Answer:

Thank you for contacting us about your daughter’s situation. Parenting can be a stressful job, and you are doing it so very well. You have many of the things in place already that we would recommend you do in response to her inappropriate behaviors.

You have increased your monitoring and decreased her privileges. You have pointed out that the boy is in a different phase of his life than she is, due to him graduating from high school, and she is just beginning that phase. You have told her that if this relationship is meant to be, then that he can and will wait for her.

If he cares about her, he will want what is best for her; he won’t be mostly concerned about having his own needs met.

The only things we would encourage you to consider is to keep her involved in her activities. Perhaps you could surprise her with a visit at school before her sports practice to “catch her being good.” If she is where she is supposed to be, with the people she is supposed to be with, then reinforce that with praise. Those are the things that will rebuild your trust in her. Sometimes it helps rebuild relationships with our children when we have them help us with enjoyable tasks. The two of you could bake cookies or do something around the house together. Leaving notes of appreciation or recognition of her good qualities is fun to do, also.

Increasing the quality of time the two of you spend together may help to keep her focused on respecting your rules and communicating more honestly. Stay in touch and let us know how she is doing.

 
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