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My Teen Daughter Is Depressed and Won’t Communicate


My daughter is 15 and her boyfriend is 16. Her boyfriend came to me last week and said, "Your daughter is really depressed, and I think she may need to talk to a counselor. I had another friend who was really depressed and I didn't say anything to anyone. But I really care about your daughter, so I am telling you.” I asked my daughter later whether she was feeling depressed and if she wanted to talk about it. Of course I got the typical answer, “No.” Even after I told her that her boyfriend had mentioned it, she still said everything is fine.

In the past, when something was wrong, my daughter would always come to me. Having her first boyfriend has changed that and I feel like we’re in new territory. She is crazy about him, almost to the point where she doesn’t talk to her other friends. I’ve tried to teach her that it’s important to have a balance between dating relationships and friendships, and it’s always a challenge. Her boyfriend is a good guy. They go to church together, and I have even seen him try to talk to her when she’s frustrated. But I’m not sure what to do about her depression and how to get her the help she might need. 


Kudos to your daughter’s boyfriend for bringing this situation to your attention. He did the right thing, and it’s great that he felt comfortable doing so. When left untreated or unresolved, depression can worsen over time, so it is important to figure out what triggered it, identify healthy coping or problem-solving skills that can help resolve it, or resort to counseling or medication. We’re glad you approached your daughter as well, but it sounds like she is not willing to get into that conversation with you right now. She might be confiding a bit more in her boyfriend at this time, which is pretty common for teens this age.

So continue to let her know you are available if she wants to talk. It’s even okay to ask direct questions such as, “Are you having suicidal thoughts?” This will show that you care about her safety and well-being, and help you to know how serious the situation is. 

It’s not uncommon for teenage girls to spend a lot of time with a boyfriend, especially the first one. It’s exciting! It’s a new adventure! You are right though; balance is extremely important, and if she is unable to do the balancing on her own, it is okay for you to help by setting some limitations. For example, have her turn off her cell phone or other social media devices at a decent time each night. Limit her dates to twice a week, and never let her be home alone with her boyfriend or at his home unless a parent is present.

Another suggestion is to see if she will open up at all about her friends. Sometimes they get mad when a friend is hanging out with her boyfriend more than them, sharing more with a boyfriend than with them, or even making excuses to not hang out with them so she can spend more time with the boyfriend. It’s possible that they could be turning their backs out of jealousy or frustration, too.

Boys Town has a good book called Dating! 10 Helpful Tips. It’s a good read for both parents and teens. Often, kids find out the hard way that they can lose friends if they ignore them for a boyfriend/girlfriend. This just might be a proactive way to educate your daughter again, since you are not having much success discussing the topic with her. If her boyfriend continues to relay concerns to you, or you notice a change in her behavior that worries you, talk to your daughter about possibly seeing a counselor. Sometimes kids open up more to a third party than to their own parents.

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