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Doctor Blake
Doctor Blake, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 146
Experience:  Ph.D., Ed.S., NCSP Clinical Psychologist; 15+ years of experience; dual licensure
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I am writing to you about some concerns I have with my teenage

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I am writing to you about some concerns I have with my teenage daughter. She recently had a breakup with her boyfriend who she had been dating for the past four months.
She has a quiet reserved personality and shares very little with me about what is going on in her relationship(girls & guys) and gets angry with me when ever I ask any details about anything related to her friends etc.. As a parent I reason with myself that she's almost 16 and it's part of the normal teenage separation thing. After her breakup with the boyfriend she was expressing significant increased anger and hostility towards me.........again I'm thinking she's upset about this breakup and displacing it with me, because it's the safe thing to do. At one point it seemed she was almost pleading with me that she could not control her anger and said something like I just want to stop being angry. I honestly thought she might need to go talk with someone professionally, because she wasn't sharing alot of her feelings(other than the outward anger) and what she was going through with me. When I mentioned this to her in a heart felt manor out of concern for her mental health, she said she wouldn't go talk with anyone. Feeling a lat her request I dropped the issue to scheduled an appointment, hoping the these emotions just needed to run their course. There was one point where I lost my temper with how abusively angry she was becoming with me, and I just blew up at her and told her that she needed to stop treating me so badly. I later humbled myself and apologized for getting so angry back at her, and told her I'd just reached my breaking point. As a parent I'm also human and have my limitations.
At any rate, I vowed to myself to try and be a supportive of her as I could while she was getting through this change in her relationship with the boyfriend. This is what she did share with me that evening she came home and told me they had broken up. She said he still wanted to remain friends, and he was still planning on taking her to the prom.
I was a little surprised to by this, but thought, wow that's seems very mature on both their parts, and encourage her to have some understanding and hopefully forgiveness if she was still having any issues, or feeling hurt. Over the last few weeks on the surface it seemed like they were being mutually respectful of each other, and the prom came and went and there seemed little drama being played out at home as compared to the couple of weeks after the break-up. For some reason though I had a strong pitted feeling in my gut that my daughter was hurting emotionally, things and I was not able to protect her. In my quest for trying to gain some kind of understand what she was going through I did something that I'm not proud of. I decide to snoop, on her facebook email, as well as her iphone tex messages. ...........and I found out a whole lot more about my daughter, her support system of friends, her relationship with the boyfriend, as well as the fact that she was engaging in some intimate behavior, not sure if this is oral sex, sex, or just getting close physically without the actual sex. What I did find most alarming though was a tex between he two of them in which he seems to be frantically apologizing for raping her(something like it felt like I was raping you), and she responds saying something like you didn't rape me if you didn't come with your "P"
inside me, and she seemed a little apologetic texting something like i didn't want to make you feel all weird..........Now it's after the fact and I can't help but wonder if she was the victim of a rape .......and thus the anger issue, the breakup, the boyfriends seeming wanting to make sure things seemed okay between them. I'm feeling a mess inside as a parent not sure what if anything I should do or say. I feel I've already potentially done damage to any trust issues she may have with me in the future.
It's now been over a week since she has had any communication with him, they have not gone out. She was at a graduation party this past Friday, and he was apparently also present. From what I know was very emotionally uncomfortable for her to be there and see the exbfriend with apparently another girl hanging around him all evening.
I welcome any advice you may have for me as a parent. I love my daughter dearly and only want to do what is best for her. I thinks she may also feeling confused by mixed signals from this boy, and still cares for him on some level, but may just wish to move on. I'm not sure what feelings if any he may or may not have for her since it appears they've stopped communicating over the late week.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Doctor Blake replied 3 years ago.

Doctor Blake :

Good afternoon and thanks for writing JA.

Doctor Blake :

I believe your first step is honestly to set an appointment with a family therapist - not for your daughter - but for you. You will need to sort out the process of individuation that your daughter (and you) is currently experiencing. Some of this behavior is consistent with that process of becoming an adult - and much of it is normal.

Doctor Blake :

However, your reaction (while completely understandable) would likely be considered "enmeshed" by most family therapists. Meaning: it's difficult for you right now to know your own boundaries and your daughter's boundaries. (Example: you shouldn't have to "humble yourself and apologize" to your daughter for expressing yourself (if it was appropriate). As you later stated, you're allowed to set boundaries! By the same token, your reaction to "snooping" (violating her privacy) was one of shame - which is appropriate - and further indication that it's hard for you to respect her boundaries right now.)

Doctor Blake :

By embarking on this process, your daughter will recognize that you're going to someone to sort out some of your issues (you don't need to be specific with her... this is YOUR business, not her's). Your modeling may show her that it's OK for her to talk about what's going on with someone and she *may* choose to go to someone (this family therapist or her own) or she may not. But you will be laying the groundwork to demonstrate, "when I start feeling sad, out-of-control, anxious (etc.) - I go talk with someone." That's a valuable lesson for your daughter to learn, even if from afar.

Doctor Blake :

So: remember when the airline attendants tell you to "put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping your children?" The same thing applies to this situation. You need to find someone to help you sort out your feelings (not just about this incident with the BF, but with the overall process of your daughter growing up and growing away from you) before you can be of any help to her. You may be able to help her when you're in a good place. But right now - I think you're too close and too "enmeshed" to be able to help her <or> you.

Doctor Blake :

I know this isn't probably comfortable or welcome advice, but please consider carefully... I'd be happy to answer other questions or respond to any thoughts you might have. If you'd like me to open this to other experts as well, I'm happy to do so.

Doctor Blake :

Thanks. Best of luck to you and your family.

Customer:

Thank you.

Doctor Blake :

Please accept response unless you require additional information. Thanks.

Doctor Blake, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 146
Experience: Ph.D., Ed.S., NCSP Clinical Psychologist; 15+ years of experience; dual licensure
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Ph.D., Ed.S., NCSP Clinical Psychologist; 15+ years of experience; dual licensure