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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5823
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Concerned about my 14 year old daughter. I have mentioned

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Concerned about my 14 year old daughter. I have mentioned this boy in my previous message. My daughter has been talking to him on and off all year. The longest they have dated, that I know of is only a couple of weeks. It has been back and forth with them all year, but mostly just texting and FB. He goes to her school so they are always in contact. Well, they have started to want to hang out again this past month. I was praying that it was just a friendly thing, but I am finding out that they like each other for more than friends, once again. This boy has a bad reputation and has been mean to my daughter in the past. He brags constantly on FB about being able to have any girl he wants and is constantly getting in trouble at school. He is trouble... I can feel it in my bones. Why does she like a boy like this? We didn't raise her to have such low self worth. She is from a strong stable family. This boy is being raised by a single mother and has many issues. My daughter says that she is the only one that understands him.
So, yesterday she asks if she can go for a walk with a neighborhood friend. She always seems to want to go for walks when this boy is in the picture. I asked her not to lie to me and was she going to meet Jacob. Finally she admitted that he was going to meet him at the park. I told her "no" and a heated argument began. She asked why I didn't trust her and what was so bad about hanging out at the park or taking a walk. I proceeded to tell her that I did not trust this guy and that I knew about things that he has done. She says that most of what I heard probably isn't true and that I can't be with her 24/7 and she will meet up with him somehow. At this point I had my husband intervene. We sat and talked and decided that Jacob could come over and meet my husband (I had already met him once). Jacob came over and my husband sent my daughter in the house so the two of them could have a chat. My husband made him aware that we are not going to accept any breaking of the rules and that he is aware of his reputation and he needs to prove to us that he can be responsible and trusted. It went something like that. After the chat Jacob and my daughter hung out in the backyard and watched tv (with me close by). They were holding hands and my stomach was in knots the entire time.
My daughter is mad at me. Says she hates me. I suppose this is because I had my husband intervene. She can't understand why I can't accept this relationship. I know she doesn't mean it and will get over it, but why me?
Another concern is this coming summer. I know she will continue to ask to hang out with him. In my heart I do not want her to be around him at all. What is acceptable? I don't want him to get used to being over here all of the time, but there is no way in hell she will be able to go to his house. Is a walk around the neighborhood acceptable? Dropping off at the mall and picking up? There is a girl in school that has an after school party every year. I know that Jacob will be there. Do I let my daughter go? The party is held at a house on a large piece of property. I often wonder how the parents can keep track of all of those kids. What do I do?
I am so concerned and have had so much anxiety over this matter that I haven't been able to eat or sleep well.
I hope I have given you enough information. I have an impatient five year old downstairs, so I've gone through this rather quickly. If you have any other questions please ask.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

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

Your fears and concerns about your daughter are not unreasonable. You obviously love her and want the best for her. This boy, Jacob, has a history of not being responsible and has been mean to your daughter before. That is enough wrong behavior to be concerned about.

What you did by having your husband intervene was appropriate. Your husband needs to be involved and take a role in what is happening. In the future, it would help the situation a lot if your husband took control at times and enforced some of the decisions you both make together. That way, it distributes the parental power and gives your daughter two adults to "hate". Right now, her feelings are directed at you, most likely because she feels you have the power and her father was just doing what you asked him to do.

Your daughter may be angry with you, but she knows that you are trying to prevent her from getting hurt. But she is a teenager and being with this boy is all new to her. So she is allowing her feelings to get ahead of her logic. And this is ok. She is supposed to make mistakes while she is with you so you can help her through it. The trick is to minimize the damage so she does not get hurt worse.

You are the parent and you make the rules. Making your daughter happy is not one of them. Kids do not like rules. However, because you love your daughter and want the best for her, there also needs to be a balance as well, which is where the hard part comes in.

The first step in dealing with this is to sit down with your husband and decide how you both want to handle your daughter's relationship with Jacob. A good place to start is trust. Right now, you have some trust in your daughter but very little to none in Jacob. So make them prove to you they are worthy of trust. You can have them see each other at your house. Then they can "graduate" to seeing each other outside of your house but in public places only, such as the mall. Limit the time they have together until they can prove they can be trusted. Have your daughter call in every hour or hour and a half (she can visit the ladies room to do this so she is not embarrassed). Set up the specific steps until you and your husband are satisfied.

Then sit with your daughter and spell it all out. Be prepared to allow for some wiggle room, such as 30 minute longer at the mall or two visits instead of three one week at home. But for the most part, stick to the plan. Tell your daughter that she has plenty of chances to prove she can be trusted. When she proves it, you will allow a little bit more freedom. But any violations of trust and it goes back to the first level or to no contact at all until you say differently. And stick to it. Kids respect gentle but firm authority with little to no emotion shown.

As for the party, unless you can verify that there will be parental supervision and you feel comfortable with the parents (you know them, or know people who know them and trust them), then you might want to say no to that one. Two kids in love together is one thing, a group of teenagers with no parental supervision or untrustworthy supervision is another.

Letting your daughter earn trust is a good way to teach her that she doesn't automatically get trusted just because she says so. It will teach her a good lesson and will help her learn she needs to earn her way. And if she makes mistakes, she will have you and your husband to help her through it. Experience is a good teacher.

Let me know if I can help in any other way,

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

I haven't heard from you. Did you have more questions or want clarification?


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
We had another argument this evening. She was 10 minutes late from walking home from the school bus stop. Her reason was that she got off at a stop farther away. I asked her if Jacob was on the bus with her. She said "no" and got upset. Okay, maybe she did just decide to get off at another stop. I cannot prove anything and in retrospect I probably should not have accused her. Even if he were on the bus (he usually takes another bus) I suppose there is no harm there. I just don't want her lying to me.

Several minutes after our little argument she askes if Jacob can come over again. I told her no and she askes why. I tell her that he was just over yesterday and that this isn't going to turn into an everyday thing. She said that she hated me, that every other couple at school gets to spend time together and why would Jacob want her as a girlfriend if they cannot spend time together. She continuted to tell me how much she cannot stand me and she wishes that she didn't live here anymore. I calmly told her that I loved her and that I would need to sit down with her father and sort this out and come up with a plan. It feels like I am losing her. I feel like crying!! I did not see any of this coming!! I honestly do not want this kid over here. In you opinion what is acceptable... twice a week?
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

The issue here is building up trust. Your daughter getting off the bus at another stop without telling you says that she cannot be trusted. In order to communicate this to her, you should tell her simply that she needs to prove to you that she can be trusted. Then tell her why. Getting off the bus at another stop is not ok. She needs to keep you informed so you do not worry. Telling you first that she intended on doing this would have shown responsibility. Making the situation about her boyfriend takes away from her responsibility of informing you of her whereabouts.

Focusing on her boyfriend and not her ability to be responsible is making this about the wrong thing. If your daughter showed responsibility, then you would not need to have these concerns.

Talk with your husband as soon as you can (tonight if possible) and decide how you want to handle this. Whether your daughter sees her boyfriend once a week or five times a week, it should be focused on her earning the right to see him, not how often she sees him. Start slow and build up from there.

If you feel that you cannot come to a solution with her, then it might be a good idea to seek counseling so you can resolve this together with a neutral third party.


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Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Can I help you any further?