View Full Version : Avoiding Martyrdom
12-12-2004, 09:39 PM
Our 14 year old daughter is "dating" (it's what the kids are now calling "going steady") a 15 year old boy who is attending an alternative school for students who have either been expelled, who are being eased back in after juvenile detention, or is at risk for arrest, etc.
Additionally, I've caught him lying a couple of times, and by itself, that kind of behavior isn't alarming, but we're talking about a kid who can't attend a regular school because he's a behavioral mess.
I've told our daughter that I don't trust him, but I've stopped short of forbidding the relationship, and I am open to supervised interaction between the two, although my wife might make a better chaperone than me.
I've also discovered in the past couple of days that she has invited him out to her best friend's house whenever she's over there, and that they even hid him in the bathroom once when I came over to pick her up.
I'm not planning on mentioning that at the moment (she's kind of upset with me because of some limitations I've placed on her regarding the amount of time she spends on the phone), but I do intend to mention it when she eventually starts protesting having a chaperone.
I'm particularly interested in trying to steer her away from a boyfriend who seems to be a trouble-maker without creating a martyr.
12-13-2004, 07:38 PM
You and your wife should take your daughter out for a coffee and tell her that you guys need to negotiate some workable rules about the boyfriend. Avoid saying that you don't trust him, but rather say that you worry about him, that he might be into some bad things; however, acknowledge that she must decide who is right or wrong for her.
Next, tell her that the big issue here is not your opinion of Mr. Wonderful, but rather the trust between a father and a daughter. Tell her that it broke your heart that she felt she could not be upfront with you about seeing her boyfriend (hiding him at her friend's house). Put much of the blame on yourself, saying that you must have done a lousy job of discussing this, and maybe weren't listening well to her. Say that the THREE of you (Mom also) must together agree on some guidelines for this dating that you ALL can live with and honor. Emphasize that you love her so much that you can not stand the thought of losing a straight-up relationship with her.
See if you can give her some "safe" alone time with this guy, i.e. at your house but in a separate room. Invite him to Sunday dinners. The more she sees him in the neutral light of day, the faster his imperfections will surface to her.
12-14-2004, 04:36 AM
We're groovy with negotiating the dating rules, but I've already told her that I didn't trust her boyfriend -- should we deal with that statement, too, or just accept that I said it and avoid saying it again? It was said during a family therapy session last month.
Next, you brought up the trust issue, and I need to stop here and bring up something that may or may not be important. My wife and I are adopting our daughter and her brother. We've all been together as a family for four months, with two months left before finalization. We don't have any biological children -- just a heartbreaking string of miscarriages.
Anyway, Mom and I make all the important parenting decisions together -- we practically make all decisions together, so she would naturally be involved in any discussion we have with our daughter.
There's actually been one supervised visit here already (her best friend was an unintended chaperone), but I did all of the talking, and I was unable to draw him out (the girls just sat and giggled).
Thanks so much for the advice, and thanks for your book!
12-14-2004, 02:38 PM
If you guys have just been together four months, let the family therapist guide you on these issues. It takes years to establish a true respect-based relationship with a "new" child. My adoptive daughter didn't even let me pick her up for at least six months when she first arrived. You guys have lots of important (and very worthwhile) work to do to create a real family.
I would apologize to my daughter for the "don't trust him" comment (even though you are likely wise to not trust him). The fact is that you really don't know him, and that cut will seem terribly prejudicial to your daughter, making her listen less to whatever else you have to say.
Good luck and bravo! for adopting these kids.
12-14-2004, 06:42 PM
The therapist has been doing a very good job, IMO, and we've been trying to build those relationships.
The therapist and the caseworker currently have us engaged in making one-on-one time with our daughter, and as I'm typing this, I can hear mom and daughter in the kitchen, talking about her just-arrived issue of "CosmoGirl" (the regular Cosmo is horrible!), and one of the cover stories is "Be A Better Kisser." Ugh. Well, at least they're getting the one-on-one time in, which is great since our daughter is having a hard time accepting her new mom since the only parent she has ever known was her birth mom.
Just moments ago, I talked to our daughter, and I apologized for what I'd said about her boyfriend. She shrugged it off, saying that her feelings weren't hurt, but that she didn't know why we didn't like him. We then told her that it's not that we don't like him, but that we don't know him. We're now trying to schedule an activity together, but in a neutral area (IOW, not our house -- he just didn't seem comfortable here).
We also asked her about why she hid him at her friend's house when we came over to pick her up, and why she was meeting with him there without saying anything to us or getting our okay, and she repeated what most teenagers must think parents will say --"What's he doing here??" -- you know, that kind of thing.
Man, I hate making mistakes, but realistically, I know I'm going to make them as a parent, just as I made them as a teen. It's just that the mistakes I made as a teen only affected my life (for the most part), whereas the mistakes I make as a parent affect the lives of our kids.
I hope, at least, that I handled her cigarette problem better than I've done with her boyfriend.
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