One of the most common calls I get is from a parent concerned her daughter is spending too much time with her boyfriend…”I keep telling her to spread out her time with her friends and school, but she ignores me.”
You know the scenario, your tween daughter comes to the breakfast table one morning and your realize that she has been kidnapped by aliens and replaced by this, this ‘woman’.
When did it happen? Where was I? Oh my gosh, by little princess is now a TEEN and she looks 20!
Yep, and she has her own identity and it’s not the one you gave her, It’s her version! What now?
She doesn’t seem to hang on your every word anymore and she has her own opinion, her own agenda and her own friends (not from one of the play dates you set up) and now a BOYFRIEND!
Oh, and this guy is special. When he calls or texts your see a flash of light leave the room where your daughter once was…She is suddenly so focused on his need or request. (don’t you wish she was that focused on her homework)? You might not see her for hours. What do they talk about for so long?
No time for lunch with mom or a trip to the mall, she is too busy on the phone or on chat with him. Or running out to meet him. But the question is where? Doing what? With whom and why so often? What about school? What about dinnertime? What about family night? Where is she?
She used to love Mexican food, now she “hates” it. She won’t wear that cute outfit you two bought together anymore. She starts dressing different…not necessarily bad, just different…She is now watching different TV shows and she is using a different language. I don’t know what she is talking about!
Your question: How do I get my daughter back?
My Answer: You don’t. You get a new version, and new and improved one. (kinda like the Microsoft updates, you can try to keep it as is, but it won’t work for long and if you do it will cause chaos). Get used to it!
How do YOU feel about this?
Well, if you are like most parents you are yearning to have your little angel back.
You don’t know how to start a conversation without it turning into an argument. You want avoid confrontation but you have so many questions:
- Where are you going?
- When will you be home?
- Who are you going with?
- Him again? Didn’t you just see him yesterday?
- Are you having SEX?
- Are you using protection?
- What do his parents do?
- What do they think about you two spending so much time together?
- Do they think you are having SEX?
How do I get through to her I just want to protect her? Why isn’t she listening to me? What should I do?
And remember, you are the not the only one that thinks…
“I don’t think they are having sex but…”
First of all, as my girlfriend and trusted colleague puts it, “If your ‘uh oh’ meter is up…chances are so is something else…” You got the picture right?
What is the next step? How do you bridge this gap?
Well the first thing is communication, and we all know how hard that is to do with a teen. Offer to invite her boyfriend to dinner or to an outing where you can spend time with him as well. I know this sounds simple, but many of us parents don’t want to do this because it seems we are condoning the relationship.
Next, set boundaries. Tell them both that you appreciate their friendship but education and family is still on the front burner. When there are expectations from the beginning it will be easier for everyone to accept the rules and follow them.
Then, if there is even a hint that they have or will become intimate you must talk to your daughter about it and schedule an appointment with her pediatrician or a gynecologist. Don’t make this your retribution, just keep it clear and matter of fact. Explain to her – If this is going to be a part of your life, and you want to behave like an adult it is time to take necessary precautions and take care yourself.
We all wish our daughters could stay our little girls, but they do grow up. With your love and guidance, she will become a woman you are very proud of.