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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I am concerned about my 15 year old daughter's relationship

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I am concerned about my 15 year old daughter's relationship with her boyfriend. They
have been dating for over a year. They met when she was 14, and he was 16. At that time he was being home-schooled, and had a part time job. Now he is about to turn 18, and has completed HS. He no longer has a job, and is not enrolled in any college classes. He says he is waiting to turn 18 so that he can get a better paying job, and is currently collecting unemployment. My daughter is very serious about this boy, and is talking about her future plans regarding college, and career choice as if he will be a deciding factor in her choices. My husband and I are worried that this boy, who is adopted, and does not have a positive relationship with either of his parents, and has only one friend, other than our daughter, is having a negative influence on her. She is a very loyal person, who has great compassion and love for this boy and his situation. We fear that she is so emotionally invested in this relationship at such a young age, and worry that we've let it go on too long. We are a very close family, and we talk openly about sex and relationships with our daughter, but recently she is keeping more from us about her boyfriend because she feels the more we know the less we like. She is right, but am I making too much out of this, or do you feel we have reason to be concerned? Thanks for any insight you can give.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

I can understand your concern. You do not want your daughter making a wrong choice in her life then either getting hurt or regretting her decision.

In this situation, time may be a deciding factor on how it turns out. You said your daughter met this boy when she was 14, which is a very young age. Although she is still with him now that she is 16, she is still very young. Given that she has two more years until she turns 18, there is a lot that can happen before then. Also, her boyfriend will have had two years of sitting around collecting unemployment. He may either grow up a bit and start progressing in his life, or he will still be sitting there, unproductive. If he hasn't progressed, your daughter may start to tire of dealing with this and move away from the relationship.

You can, of course, forbid her to see him. But this may end up backfiring on you. What you have done so far is good- you let your daughter know about your concern and have been open and honest with her. She is at the age where she is going to have to be responsible for making choices, and the mistakes that go with them, on her own. Otherwise, she will not learn how to avoid them when she is no longer with you.

Keep talking with your daughter. But do it in a way where you remain low key. By that I mean tell her you are worried but that you trust her. Tell her that you are there for her, no matter what. Let her know that you want the best for her and that includes a promising future. Ask her what her plans are for her future. Let her talk it out without judgment. If she works her plans around her boyfriend, as her more details about how she plans to do that. But don't show displeasure. The idea here is to have her see that although it all looks good in her mind, reality is different.

If she has a career in mind, help her explore it more. Take her to shadow someone in her chosen field of study or visit colleges with her. Do activities with her that are about her future. If she brings up her boyfriend, let her talk about it but don't comment. Try to remain as neutral as possible. That way, you do not become the enemy in her mind but instead someone she can turn to. If things with her boyfriend would become bad, she will turn to you first.

If she does go ahead with the relationship, you may just have to deal with it until she figures it out for herself. If you feel counseling would help you cope better, that might be a way to help you deal with the stress of the situation. Keep in mind that your daughter would not be the first child to go in a different direction at that age. Oftentimes, it's just making the mistake that helps kids learn that Mom and Dad where right in the first place.

I hope this has helped you,

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