Hi! I'll be glad to help you with this issue.
How old is your daughter? And how old is the boy?
Hi, the system says you're offline. If it closes the chat and reverts to the question/answer format, I'll answer you there, okay?
I see. This is a very tough age, for sure.
How is she in general? Meaning, how is she doing in school? How is she doing at home?
You mean, I assume this particular girlfriend. But in general, over the last year or so, she's doing okay in school and at home, right?
You seem to have a good relationship with her.
Whew, that's wonderful. Because it makes our work so much easier.
You're clearly a loving mom and so that she's responded to that positively so far is a fantastic basis for how to deal with the problems of the teen years that are now upon you.
It is true: parents today have a different world that you have to try to navigate with your teen than your parents had with you.
However, the principles are there.
And when you have a child who's doing well, like your daughter, and who's
trying to navigate her new and continually changing feelings in today's atmosphere,
you're ahead of the curve.
The biggest difference that kids today live within is that they have a tremendous peer pressure to form alliances outside of the family.
And those alliances can involve sexuality.
Not as in already doing anything, because most still don't, but as in creating some identity, some sense of being in relationship, boys.
And so friendships become very complex, like with her friend.
Your role has to be much more of a guide than a director today.
The difference is:
a director tells the actor what to do: the parent tells the child what to do and makes sure the child does it.
A guide watches over the activities of the child and is there to advise when asked and steps in only when necessary.
A guide allows the teen to make mistakes and only steps in when those mistakes clearly violate boundaries that are dangerous.
I see you're typing. Go ahead.
Okay, let's practice it, then.
If you were going to guide her rather than direct, you would want to ask lots of questions. Why?
To find out what is her internal compass that is pointing her in the direction she's going in so you know how she might need help. With me?
So, what question might you begin with in discussing it with her?
To be a guide to kids, you have to show that you're interested in them, not just that you want to solve their problems. That's what their principals and most of their teachers want to do.
They more than anything else want to be valued and treated as if they count, as if what they think and believe is interesting and worth hearing, okay?
So, the question we want to open with is to find out something about her. I would recommend something like:
Wow, you know honey, I'm really wondering how you're feeling about this boy. What makes him interesting to you?
What do you think?
Let's say she answers: I don't know, mom, he's just sort of interesting. I'd ask next:
Wow, I think I could see that. Let's pause. Can you see why he might be interesting to her?
Hold on, my question is to you: why might he be interesting to her? Because if you say, wow, I can see that, you need to make sure you're being honest, that you CAN see why he would be of interest. So why might he be?
Good. But you must NOT tell her your insight. This is an example of being her guide:
You are learning about her. You have to guide her, not impose things on her.
Therefore, your next question might be something like: Now, yes, I can see now why you're interested in him,
He seems to be troubled, though. Do you see him that way? Or do you see him differently?
That might be your follow up. What do you think?
No, we know what WE think of him. I meant, what do you think of the question that you might ask her?
Remember: we are not looking to impose what we think. Teens will recoil from that today when adults try to impose on them.
We're looking to give her an opportunity to share with you what SHE thinks about him being troubled. Does that make sense?
I want you to notice a few things:
First, notice how slow I'm proceeding with her:
I'm taking a long time to learn what she thinks. Two questions I've had you ask and they're still only at the beginning of finding out what she is thinking and feeling.
I haven't gotten anywhere near the part about what she "should" do, "should" think, etc. See how much I'm putting into giving her a chance to talk?
This is crucial.
Second, I'm keenly aware as you need to be that your influence as a parent today has been made smaller because of the internet.
That's precisely why I'm giving her as much time to talk as I can:
With my kids, I have had to make sure they know that I want to hear them.
Otherwise, they'll find other people to influence them. The internet is full of them.
So, you are not seeking to make this a 1-2 problem solving issue and let's get on with our lives.
This is your biggest opportunity to date to enter your daughter's life, give it time.
You don't have to solve it for her.
You have to help her solve it.
And you don't have to do it in one fell swoop.
It might be a few evenings worth of discussions.
Does that resonate?
Can I share with you 2 old books that I think are better than any of the new books coming out today to help parents of teens?
Because you are a really good mom and she's lucky to have you.
That was fun. Trying to type fast is a hoot, isn't it?
Let me find the links for the books in my files...
Here it is:
Here is a book that is excellent. How to Talk so Teens Will Listen and Listen so Teens Will Talkby Faber and Mazlish. Here's the Amazon web page for it: http://www.amazon.com/How-Talk-Teens-Will-Listen/dp/0060741260/ref=pd_sim_b_2
These two authors are students of Chaim Ginott. He was a wonderful psychologist in the 1960s and 1970s. He's not permissive, he communicated! You might want to go to his book for non-therapists: Between Parent and Teenager. It's old, but still relevant. Here's the Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Between-parent-teenager-Haim-Ginott/dp/B0007DK0PA/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1285715554&sr=1-2
I think you will like Faber and Mazlish a lot.
Okay, I wish you the very best!
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Hi. I see the chat is still open. If you could give a positive rating before you leave, I'd be grateful. All the best to you.
All the best to you!