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Daughter Dating Boy with Bad Reputation

Hi Mark,

It's been awhile since I've had to email you. Thanks to your program, things have improved greatly in our home. We are experiencing some more difficulty at the moment and my husband and I are confused on how to handle the situation and would like your opinion. I will try to explain the situation as briefly as possible.

Our daughter is 16. Last year was a difficult year. My daughter was disrespectful at home and at school. She had social problems at school and was involved in some fighting. Her grades suffered. This year our relationships at home have improved greatly. She is trying hard to control her anger because she sees it gets her nowhere (thanks to your program and the "poker face" tip). She is still struggling academically, but there is less drama at school. She is respectful to her teachers and has been trying hard not to get in fights with her peers. Because of your tip on using an online monitoring program I have been able to keep track of what she is up to. She has not been perfect by any means, but for the most part she is staying out of trouble and I must say it appears that she is mostly honest with us. I heard her make the comment the other day "my parents always find out everything, it is so annoying". But she said it light heartedly.

Here is our current problem. In December, she started "dating" a 19yr.old boy. This boy does not have a good reputation. He has been in trouble with the law. Just this week he was arrested twice for getting into fights. Of course, our daughter swears they were not his fault. I've been told that the boy is somewhat mentally handicapped and is teased about being "stupid". My oldest son has confirmed that this is true but says the boy does not know when to shut up and is constantly getting in fights and getting beat up. We were leery of her dating him to begin with and should have put a stop to it immediately, but because her behavior has been so much better, we did not. She is never with him when these incidents occur. In fact, she is only allowed to see him when she is supervised. After this last incident, we decided we do not want her to see him at all. We told her that even though he is good to her, the fact that he has a violent part to him could put her in danger. For two hours last night and two more hours today, she has been in a rage using every tactic she could to get us to change our mind. I wasn't sure whether to call the police or take her straight to the hospital. She threatened to run away and to kill herself. She admits that she is very depressed and will go for help- but only if we allow her to see him.

This is what I proposed to her:

• She could see him one time during the week and that would be Sunday. We would pick him up and they would both go to church with us and then he could spend the afternoon.
• She can talk to him on the phone.
• She has to show us some improvement in her school work.
• She must agree to some counseling to help her with her depression and her obsession with having a boyfriend.
• He would have to stay out of trouble.

Are we crazy for even considering this???? I have to say, I don't know him very well at all and am not sure I want him around our family. But as a Christian I feel we need to give him a chance and maybe make a difference in his life. Everyone else thinks we're nuts.

Thank you for taking the time to give us your opinion. We don't know where else to turn.

Sincerely,

AJ

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Re: Are we crazy for even considering this????

Not at all. I think you are largely on track. Congrats!

As parents, we are not very comfortable not knowing what is going on in our teenager’s life. But as your daughter starts to date, you will need to take a step back and not try to know ‘everything’. You may at first have a hard time and feel like something is wrong. That is normal – your parenting role is changing. Change always feels awkward at first. On the other hand, your daughter may want to chat about the experience. She may have some questions to ask. If so, make yourself available. But remember to try not to ‘read into’ any of the questions and begin prying.

All parents dread the day when their son or daughter comes home with a new love interest. There will be many relationships that you know will not work out. And while you might be tempted to share your opinion with your daughter, I would suggest you didn’t.

One point I can’t stress enough is to never tell your daughter you disapprove of her boyfriend. This will only make her that much more attracted to him. If she asks your opinion, you can say that the boy isn’t the person you would have chosen for her, but it’s her life and she has to figure that out for herself.

If you keep telling her how bad of a person her boyfriend is, he could turn out to be your son-in-law. I know this from firsthand experience. My wife hated my daughter’s high school boyfriend - even forbid her from seeing him. All this did was make her want to see him even more. At one point my daughter said to me, “When my boyfriend and I would have disagreements, I would not see that the relationship wasn’t working. I would only see that I had to make it work to keep mom from knowing she was right about him all along.”

You have a Romeo & Juliet phenomenon on your hands that will need to be diffused (if not, they will work harder at sneaking rendezvous behind your back).

Unfortunately, if your daughter wants to be with someone -- she'll find a way, no matter what you say or do. Parents can only guide their children in the right direction and hope for the best. If they do a good job, their children will make the right decision all on their own.

Since you will not be successful at keeping those two apart, you must adopt a philosophy of “if you can’t beat ‘em - join ‘em.” In other words, they should be able to see one another within limits, and you decide what those limits are. And it sounds like you have already decided on some very appropriate limits.

Good work,

Mark

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