Subject: teenage dating
Question: My daughter is 14 1/2 and is interested in a guy that is 18. She has met him a couple times behind my back while at the mall with friends. I had to bluff her to get that out of her.
He is of driving age. That scares me. I have told her that he is too old for her and she is extremely upset with me. I can’t get through to her. She is very mature for her age. She is also very beautiful and very developed for a 14 year old. What is your opinion? Please help. Thanks!
Answer: Dear Rita:
I agree with you there is too big of an age gap here between 14 almost 15 and his 18. However, you are going to need to approach this delicately. You have the upper hand here as I am sure he understands what her being underage means to him legally.
She is upset with you because you are being her mom! Remember you are not here to win a popularity contest with her right now. However, also realize that she has seen him behind your back which will be hard for you to monitor. The reality is we only have control over our teens when they have enough respect to follow our control. If she chooses to ignore your feelings she will be seeing him behind your back.
First I suggest listening to her without judgement even if you have to tie your tongue to the roof of your mouth. We as parents become Fearful when we see our teens doing things we think are going to ruin their young lives or make mistakes we may have made ourselves. You have to harness the fear while you are listening to her or you will not really hear her.
Also, try not to lecture. She doesn’t believe you ever knew what it felt like to be her age or feel her feelings so don’t go there.
Focus on your relationship with her. You need to find time doing things together that she likes to do and do it alot. In otherwords make sure she is happy within the relationship she has with you.
You didn’t mention whether or not her father or another significant male is in the picture. Sometimes it helps to have a man she respects and admires tell her the same thing you are telling her.
If things do start to get out of hand resist the temptation to focus on the boy. Hold her accountable for her own actions, such as sneaking behind your back. If the tug of war becomes about him you will lose big time. If you keep your focus on her taking responsibility for her own actions she will deal with this much better. I suggest making the consequences stiffer when it involves him. This may make her develop an aversion to seeing him. Hopefully you have also had the birth control talk and are dealing with the reality that teens do eventually have sex. Safe sex is imperative at any age.
M Kay Keller