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Thanks so much for starting up the site – it’s great to have a mom out there who ‘gets’ it!
So my question involves my daughter. Hayley is 14 and has started seeing a boy who’s 2 years older than her called Ron. Ron has a smart mouth on him and does a lot of things that I don’t approve off. I’ve seen him smoking, messing around with other girls and sometimes playing hooky from school.
Everything about Ron is bad news – and of course I’m really worried about my daughter. But Hayley thinks he can do no wrong and if I bring up his name we always end up yelling and screaming at each other.
So what do I do? What would you do?
Carrie, St Louis
I feel for you I really do and think you have genuine cause for concern.
There are two paths you can take here that could result with two drastically different outcomes.
Plan A: You can forbid Hayley to see Ron. 14 is a bit young to have a steady boyfriend and while two years age difference is relatively minor among adults, it’s a HUGE difference among adolescents. At 16 Ron can drive, is two years from being emancipated and may have drastically different interests than his girlfriend who is just entering her teens. We are fond of telling it like it is here at goodenoughmother.com and one of the things you must know is that in the forefront of most 16 year old boys (and some girls) minds is S-E-X! Hayley also needs to know that and understand the implications.
Plan B: Allow Hayley to see Ron but TALK, TALK AND TALK! You must make it clear to Halyley that Ron is not the kind of guy that she deserves. Make sure she knows that she is loved and special and at every opportunity, build up her self-esteem because with that intact, there will be less of a chance that she will be taken advantage of. Ask her what she sees in him. If you allow Hayley to see Ron, I would do it in a controlled setting, such as your house or other places where adults can supervise (school dance, etc) but definitely put some ground rules in place.
The thing is puppy love wears off faster than ink drying so I think if you play your cards right, gently guiding Hayley toward the appropriate decisions, she will ultimately see the light. And that fact that she reaches the conclusion on her own (with the aforementioned gentle guidance) will instill confidence in her that she can make good choices as well as give her the feeling of some control over own life.
Finally, You and Hayley need to find neutral territory where you can have your sometimes, sticky conversations without them turning into blowouts. A lunch date, mani-pedi salons, walk in the park, long drives might enable her to see you as less of an authority figure (even though at the end of the day you still are) and more as someone whose opinion she can seek out and trust. Of course, this is easier said than done and I know this from first hand experience.
I also think it is totally appropriate to talk to Hayley about date rape. Of all reported rapes, nearly 42 percent happen where the perpetrator knows the victim. Here’s an excellent resource on the myths and facts about date rape.
I can totally understand your first reaction must be to put the kabosh on any of this. But I do think that Plan A has the biggest potential to backfire, given the nature of adolescents. That is why I think communication and a gentle hand is probably your best bet.
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