Subject: My teen daughter
Question: My almost 17-year-old daughter (she will be 17 in 2 months) has been dating an 18-year-old boy. She is a junior and he is a graduating senior in high school. This is the first boyfriend she has been allowed to have.
My husband and I met with the boy and his dad to lay out the ground rules of dating our daughter. Even though her step dad and I are not thrilled with the situation we feared her running around behind our back to see him instead of having an open communication with us about seeing him. She really feels she is in love with him.
Recently I was informed (through the grapevine) that my daughter had become sexually active with him. I guess this encounter happened prior to our meeting with the boy and his father. I confronted my daughter and she denied the situation. I called the boy father and he confronted her boyfriend. The boyfriend then calls us to “come clean” about the situation and let us know it did happen one time. To say the least my husband is completely pissed off. I then told my daughter that her boyfriend did tell the truth. She has an appointment tomorrow with the OBGYN.
My husband does not want this boy to come anywhere near our daughter. My daughter has said repeatedly that she will see him no matter what we say. I am completely afraid that this will drive a wedge in our family that we won’t be able to recover from. I don’t want her to get more distant from us than what she already is. She will hate my husband (her step dad of 13 years) and this will just add to her built up resentment.
What do we do?
1. Press charges on this boy because she is underage?
2. Meet with the boy and his dad again and make a written contract?
3. Never let her see him again?
We are completely taken back about this and have no idea how to handle it. Can you please help?
Answer: Dear Anonymous:
I am sorry you are experiencing this heart break. It is never easy to realize our children are growing up in such a dramatic display of separating from us. Please do deal with your disappointment, heartbreak and grief of letting your daughter go to some extent. She is only a year from adult status. You are probably going to have to point this out to her step dad as well.
The most important thing now is damage control. You are to be commended for getting her to an obgyn. She needs birth control unless you want to become grandparents already.
You are also right that she may go behind your back. This really depends upon the relationship she has with you and your husband. However, my experience is once they have sex you are probably not going to control or influence them in the direction you want. However, this does not mean you should change your opinions or let her know what your opinions.
Let's deal with your questions:
1. I doubt you can press charges. In most states it is if the boy is over 18 (sometimes there has to be a 3 or 4 year gap) and if the girl is under 14 or 16 years of age.
2. A written contract is a novel idea. It may work however, the reality is teen hormones are pretty strong. I would consider what the consequences will be if the contract is not abided by and what power you have to enforce those consequences. Be real about this because you are also right when you say you are impacting your relationship with your daughter.
3. Never let her see him again? Do you believe you can enforce this or will they truly find a way to see each other. Only you know your daughter well enough to decide how determined she maybe.
I have a couple of suggestions. Because this is to traumatic to you and your husband. I suggest whatever else you may decide to do, you spend time with your daughter in many positive interactions. Find out what she likes to do and go do it with her (within reason). My point is to not get so caught up in this situation that you forget to focus on the relationship. Teens will often talk to you when they are involved or engaged in an activity. Set her and yourselves up to have some good quality family time together and make the boyfriend a not talked about subject for you and your husband. If she brings him up, let it pass and bring the topic back to the present moment. Remember to LISTEN to her, be comfortable with long silences and allow her to speak more than you talk!
The parent child relationship is a lifetime relationship if we nurture it.
M Kay Keller
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