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Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not private or confidential but public).
I am sorry to know about this situation.
Could you please tell me about your husband's reasons to isolate your daughter from boys this much?
Mostly because he says she is too young. He is always thinking the boys have bad intentions with her- and I'm sure that many of them have some ideas we wouldn't agree with... BUT they are not left alone ever... and still he says she is just too young.
What about his culture, does his cultural values command him not to allow his daughters to spend any time with boys?
Nope. We are just white, middle class- raised by white middle class parents and we are Christian, but not very religious.... we go to church a few times a year and he wasn't raised to be any religion at all.
If you live in the States and your culture and religious values - beliefs mandate you to limit this much your daughter's normal growth and development, you would need to seriously reassess your values - beliefs in order not to alienate your daughter from a health and fulfilling life as a 12 year old. People from infancy need to share with children and adults of the other gender in order to raise your daughter promoting a good development, growth, maturity, social and coping skills, as well as mental and emotional health, which are not possible if alienated from normal and necessary sharing with both, males and females.
He never had any problems with our girls (we have another girls but she isXXXXXless social) being around boys until the last few months when he suspected there might be a boy or two that our daughter has a 'crush' on.....
If I am aware that she wants to use some of her supervised social time with a boy that she LIKE likes.... this is fine also - as long as they are not left alone, right?
I see you can see this but he's still reluctant about it, and time has not helped but made it worse. I agree with you that fighting would not resolve this serious issue, but staying passive would only undermine your daughter's situation and well-being more and more. Your observations about her behavioral changes are clear, she is already reacting to the excessive and distorted restrictions imposed by her father, and that would only push her into unhealthy situations.
Absolutely, I totally support you.
Do you have any suggestions about how I can handle this- without my husband feeling like I have no regard for his parental opinions?
Your husband approach is very unhealthy since it literally push your daughter-s to develop problems related to their self-esteem, confidence, social and coping skills around the other gender, and for sure potential emotional issues and problems around sexuality.
This is not about being disrespectful at all, I do not see how you could be disrespectful while trying to work on providing better parenting and support, affection and discipline to your daughters. If he gets offended it would not be because of you sharing your opinions and concerns, but because of his personal issues around this topic, which must be addressed, and it seems that he needs to listen to a professional in order to understand how dysfunctional his approach has been. That's why there are counselors, psychotherapists and marriage and family therapists, parenting classes, to help parents to actually learn about healthy and assertive parenting.
I would say that his is being unreasonable and disrespectful when totally disregarding your concerns and the problems already present in your children because of the alienation from male contact and sharing, like every normal child should have, otherwise it would be unrealistic to expect healthy and effective development and learning about multiple skills, challenges and scenarios. Spouses need to dialogue showing mutual respect, understanding and support, and when unable to get to an agreement about a very important subject, should look for professional support in order to work on the best way to resolve a problem , to provide support or to promote better communication, intimacy, harmony and fulfillment in the marital and family relationships.
I know that he is very protective and feels as though I am potentially putting our daughter in situations (by allowing her to spend time with boys) that allow her to develope more serious feelings that he says she is too young for. He does not want to encourage this- and I do understand what he is thinking- but I feel strongly that she is just going to sneak around everything if contact from boys is cut off.... and I would rather her not hide anything from us.
Do you know a way that I can find some good counseling services in my area? How would I find a good fit for our family in this situation?
Absolutely. Nobody should inhibit or repress normal development, including normal romantic feelings and healthy sexuality, friendly time with the other gender and everything else adequate to each age. She is 12, and as I said before, children from infancy need this contact with boys and girls, they naturally show preferences and changes while they grow, and it's parents' role to guide and support them in each phase, not to repress or isolate them, fueling distorted beliefs and taboos about sharing with the opposite gender, since that, as you said, only promote distance and lack of communication, trust, closeness and connection between parents and children.
ALSO, in the inbetween time.... the time between now and when my husband and I find a counseling service ..... should I simply allow a boy to be around (my husband would not be present- as he would find something else to do to avoid being around a BOY friend of our daughter...and I am fine with that) even if it makes my husband very upset with me? This issue is very difficult between us right now... and it could take a couple weeks before we attend a counseling appointment.... should I keep allowing these situations with our daughter and boys right now? It's a very pressing topic around here.
The best way to find a good professional or program for healthy parenting is by asking for referrals and recommendations from people you know, from relatives to close friends, health professionals who know you or your family, or to go to local clinics and hospitals and talking with staff about professionals they know and could recommend who work on providing support through parenting classes. Many hospitals, and specially mental health clinics have this classes, and they do know who are well qualified in these concerns.At the same time, I have to say that you need to be patient and persistent assessing at least a couple or three different options before choosing a god professionals, since like with any other professional field, you would find good and mediocre professionals.
She has kissed a boy. Should this particular boy also be allowed to have supervised visits with her? My husband knows about this.... and I think this is when he started 'freaking out' because he became concerned about a sexual element..... but 12 is a normal first kiss age, right?
I would not suggest you to do that, since that would show lack of respect and honesty, which must be always present in your relationship, even more for you to model what you need ad expect from him. It is obvious to me that your husband has personal issues he needs to work on in order to provide good parenting, and unless he addresses such issues, taking full responsibility for them, no significant change or improvement would be possible. His behavior towards boys literally promotes unhealthy dynamics giving the worn messages to your daughters instead of promoting healthy growth and development. These issues must be discussed in marriage counseling, an din my opinion he would need to commit to individual counseling to work on himself, if you expect him to be able to play a healthier role in his parental role and when communicating - sharing with you.
I see. Yes, it could be totally normal, and that's why sexual education should be present and active from early childhood, and she is already 12, then if no significant improvements happen to be implemented as soon as possible, his parental approach would push his daughters to unhealthy scenarios, not because they are bad persons but because of the unhealthy education-conditioning they could be receiving from father out of fear rooted on personal issues. He needs to work on himself and on his parental skills, and professional support is necessary in my opinion.
What if it takes weeks or months before he can understand that it's OK for her to be around boys..... do I just isolate her until then? I do not want to go against my husband.... BUT if my daughter asks to spend time with a boy thats a friend (or even one she has a crush on...) should I simply tell my husband that it is going to happen... regardless of his reaction? I don't want to fight around the kids about it.
He needs to learn about healthy and effective parenting and sexual education for sure, your daughter is a whole human being that needs support, understanding, guidance, affection and healthy discipline, if she does not get it from both parents then her chances to suffer at different levels is very high.
In such case then I would say you would have to set your priorities, and in this specific scenario you have full responsibility about raising and protecting your children, and I think you would need to do that, and make it clear that you cannot neglect your daughter because your husband chooses to refuse to work on this issue and get necessary professional support, one that you are open and willing to take, and that's my suggestion. If he does not want to get professional help, you do, so you would show him you are doing your best to create the best climate for your whole family and to raise your children.
Becoming parents does not mean we get instant education, training and expertise on parenting, that we become suddenly perfect. In reality it is exactly the opposite, it triggers our ego and personal and marital issues, which we should face with full responsibility, getting the tools and support we need to make things work, based on mutual respect, love and caring.
He will like to get counseling. He is a good man. To be honest.... I was scared to get counseling because I don't know what to expect... but this chat with you has helped me to feel that I am not crazy to think it is good for her to have friends that are boys also. Thanks so much. This is the first step I have taken to improve our situation. I will make some appointments now.
THANKS SO MUCH!!!
well worth the $22