Dear Mr. Hutten,
I am beginning session 3 of your program tomorrow. I am however very bothered by my 15 year old coming home and telling me that she is bi. I have always raised her Christian and she knows that I don't approve of this kind of behavior. She announced to me also that she is now atheist. She is also involved in the goth look. I was reading your sample contract and it states that I will accept her individuality. Please tell me that this is a behavior issue and not an individuality issue. Remember she wants me to accept her "girlfriend" coming over to visit and to allow her to meet up with her. I told her that I accept her as bi, but I will certainly pray for her. This and the atheist and goth behavior makes me crawl inside. Please, is this a behavior issue where I can say no and set consequences for, or do I still have to just accept it? Remember she’s only 15.
Very Saddened Mom,
First and foremost, I would suggest that you simply continue to digest the entire program before making any big decisions one way or the other.
Having said that, the atheist stance and the bisexual thing is indeed not a behavioral issue – so it is rather off-limits for any disciplinary interventions (which would do no good anyway). Many – if not most – parents would spend (i.e., waste) a lot of time and energy trying to change their child’s sexual and religious preferences. The bad news: This attempt to “fix” the child would only serve to reinforce her desires to move in these directions that are contrary to your liking.
The goth behavior is a temporary teenage thing that should go in the "pick-your-battles-carefully" file (i.e., save your energy for the more important battles). Also, I would guess that her atheism will fade away over time as well (and possibly the bisexual orientation; she wouldn’t be the first teenager to experiment with bisexuality only to one day realize that it too was just a fad not unlike tattoos and piercings).
In the meantime, I think it is perfectly acceptable that you tell her (only one time though, otherwise it will be perceived as “nagging”) that you disapprove of that life-style.
Mark Hutten, M.A.
My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents