Hello Rene,

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

Oh Carrie:

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 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.

Good luck!

Do you have a question or concern for Rene? Click here and fire away because you know by now, she’s not afraid to tackle anything!

Rene Syler is a wife, mother, breast cancer advocate and television personality whose burning desire to tell the truth about modern motherhood led her to create When not spending time with her family or burning something for dinner, Rene travels the country as host of Sweet Retreats on The Live Well Network and Exhale on Aspire.


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  2. Dave Freeman

    July 14, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    I’ve been that age, and I have teen boys working for me every summer. Yes!Rene is right, SEX is usually foremost on their minds. And sadly, although girls physically mature faster than boys, I see alot of overly sheltered kids today, and others are utterly UNsheltered.
    But I think this is an opening to open a real relationship with your daughter if you approach her without the anger and share a story or two, in a slow and building way that she can REALLY see and understnd. Make her understand how vulnerable you felt at her age. The trick is to chare your wisdom without her thinking your sharing your wisdom that you’ve gained in these intervening years.
    In the absence of anger you may get her to see you are really on her side. If you try plan A she will do the opposite just to anger you more and may hurt herself.
    Try and gently point out any way this guy has disrespected her and ask her how she would feel if YOU treated her that way? She would question your love for her. Ask he if she would ever treat anyone she cares about in the poor ways he treats her. And ask her to really state to herself, not to you, “What is so great about this guy” What does he add to her life beyond the self-esteem or gain in popularity of having a boyfriend. People often take their anger out on those they know will still unconditionally love them. so you have to get past that wall of teen angst and through to HER. It’s a tough call, for sure, but you can do it if you take a little time and ease into it, even if you have to put up a false front of accepting her boyfriend until you can reach her.
    Try and remember what got through to you back then and walk that same path with her now. There is a language she will understand, you just need to find it.
    Talk to a coupleof her close friends and see if they feel the same wy you do. They may be willing to help you if they don’t trust him eiher. I’d do whatever it takes if you really feel he might hurt or impregnate her, etc. But if you simply don’t like him because he’s a 16 year old wiseguy, but is not REALLY hurting her in a real way, I’d leave it alone and let her take the lesson, then talk about it after they split up. Boys are a phase, from one to the next at this age,..most of the time. Just make sure your worry is warranted before you go too far into the act of trying to get rid of him. I know there’s two stories or pieces of advice here. But the boy might be bad news, he might just be bad 16 year old “normal” too. Sometimes they’re all bark and no bite. I don’t know him. But you should try and judge as realistically as you can before making your move.

  3. Gayle Mahoney

    July 27, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    I have friends who recently had a similar issue, didn’t approve of their son’s girlfriend. First they went the road of trying to control his interaction with her by forbidding him to see her, but he just rebelled and the problem became much worse. Then they changed their strategy and invited her to come hang out at their house as often as possible. It was a smart move because it enabled them to supervise the time they spend together, but also opened up channels of discussion once the kids were not on the defense. Now she is a welcomed part of the family and they have been able to set ground rules that both kids respect (at least for the time being).

  4. Pete

    September 1, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Great post! I find the difficulties and enjoyment of meeting your family member’s boyfriends or girlfriends to be fascinating. It seems there’s always growing pains whether you like them or not, but it’s much more difficult when you don’t. I’d love to read more on this topic.

    I recently read this blog that I thought added some insight into the issue and was enjoyable:

    I’d love to see more like it. Thanks!

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