Perspective Interpretation of the news based on evidence, including data, as well as anticipating how events might unfold based on past events My year-old is dating a year-old. A parent worries about speaking honestly to her year-old daughter, who is dating a year-old man.
My daughter is 15, and I recently found out that she has started dating a year-old boy. I have met this boy several times, and he is very sweet and responsible, working a full-time job and renting an apartment. And he assured me that he will not be doing anything sexual with her until she is of legal age.
But I still can't shake the feeling of unease. I know that if I stop her from seeing this boy, she'll be upset. Okay, I took a deep breath before I started writing this.
I have a year-old daughter and when I read this, my initial thought was, "Awww, heck no. But we are in the land of reality and not pure emotionality, so let's be practical here. Yes, there is good news. It may sound like I am scraping the bottom of the pickle barrel, but many times, the parents have no clue about the boyfriend. A child will often keep the relationship secret, fearing the parents' judgment about the age difference and avoiding an awkward or heated conversation about this topic.
In fact, you talk to him enough that he has reassured you he will not be "doing anything sexual with her until she is of legal age.
I mean, did he say that like he's doing you a favor? He has chutzpah, this guy. So, you do have some level of discourse with this man, and that matters. So, things could be a lot worse. But here's what I'm trying to figure out: Why are you afraid to upset your daughter? I agree that forbidding a teen to do something is courting trouble and is the quickest way to invite sneakiness and lies. But trying to not upset a teen is like trying to not get wet when you jump in a pool: It's going to happen.
So, is your relationship with your daughter such that any criticism or even broaching the subject of the older boyfriend will result in a huge blowout? Is your connection so tenuous that a conversation will push her into total shutdown? If it is, I have no judgment. You won't be the first parent who feels disconnected from her teenager. And if this is the case, you still have a choice between abdicating responsibility and saying nothing and taking the full nuclear option of demanding they not see each other.
If your connection with your daughter is strained, start hanging out with her. Ask thoughtful questions and listen. Do whatever she likes to do shop, surf the Web, ride bikes, kick soccer balls , and ask her what she likes about the man she's dating, what makes him interesting, and what they have in common. Practice listening without offering too much in the way of critique or worry.
I'm not saying this is easy, but just practice. As you get better at being with her and listening, you may find a way from unease to some comfort in discussing your worries and thoughts with her. Our goal isn't to avoid upset or big feelings; those will happen on their own.
Our goal is to open a real discussion with your daughter. But if your relationship with her is pretty good, do you feel challenged when it comes time to create and uphold reasonable boundaries? From where I am sitting, your year-old is doing what she pleases and her boyfriend is telling you when he is going to have sex with her, and you are the only one feeling uneasy? Sigh Again, I am not criticizing you. It is easy to let rational boundaries slip away if upsetting emotions feel too big.
But this scenario is an invitation to step into your role as a strong parent. That means voicing your concerns and having a conversation with your daughter about her life and your expectations.
If this is threatening to you, I strongly suggest you seek a good therapist and find your voice. Realistically, I am not overly concerned that he is 19 years old. A year-old man may not be much different from a , , or year-old boy, in terms of maturity.
What I am concerned about is that your year-old daughter is spending her time with a man who has an apartment and a full-time job. There are developmental milestones that he has had graduating from high school that your daughter may be missing out on if she is sitting at his place, watching TV and waiting for him to get home from work.
And call me jaded, but I have a very strong suspicion that if they are not already sexually active, they will be soon. There is only so much unattended time two teens can spend together before the inevitable takes place. I beseech you — if nothing else — please have your daughter visit a good obstetrician-gynecologist to have a frank discussion about sex and sexuality. I am imagining your horror at this given that you are afraid to upset her , but the upset at seeing a doctor will pale in comparison with the upset of an unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection.
It is your duty as a parent to face this with honesty and compassion. My challenge to you is to avoid the extremes of this dating scenario. It isn't "stop seeing him" or "pretend nothing is happening. Find your voice and use it. Your daughter is a young woman, but she needs her parent to step up and get involved.
Teens who don't have boundaries and who don't have parents who actively engage them feel out of control and lost, and will tend to make dangerous decisions. Your daughter needs you to help her navigate this relationship. For more advice, please pick up the book " Untangled: It is excellent, highly readable and reassuring. Meghan is the mother of three daughters.
The story must be told. Your subscription supports journalism that matters.