"She first had sex at 15..."

Dear Mark, I've watched and started implementing Week One Tutorials & Assignments. My problem has been specifically that I discovered my 16, almost 17 year old daughter has been having sex with just anybody and posting intimate pictures of herself on the internet and inviting men to contact her for sex. She now has a boyfriend (he doesn't know what she's been up to and is more innocent than she is). I fear is also engaging in sexual activity with him. She first had sex at 15 when she went away with a friend and her parents on holiday. This was the first time she'd ever been allowed away and I had trusted that this family would watch out for her as I would have watched out for their daughter. When she came home, she'd got involved with a very unpleasant 19 year old (only in the last 3 days of a 6 day holiday). 

 I had to try to put a stop to it, which I thought I'd done, but today she left her computer on, and I saw a recent message from him. She denied sex with him at the time, and was so convincing, I actually felt guilty for doubting her. Had I known then, I would have gone to the police, but the police won't want to know now, especially as she's no longer an innocent. Interestingly enough, all her friends thought he was hideous and certainly didn't admire her for going with him. I only recently discovered all this, and was shocked, angry and despairing and told her that she came close to being thrown out for trashing the values of this family. I'm a stay at home mum and have been married 25 years to her father. I initially took away the computer for a week and then she said she wouldn't misuse it anymore and only go on Facebook where she can only be contacted by friends. I now suspect this might also be a lie, since discovering the latest message. 

==> Effective Disciplinary Techniques for Defiant Teens and Preteens

 Then I found your site and I realise I've been an over-indulgent parent and she's a textbook case of an over-indulged kid, except that she has low self-esteem, as she's carrying about 42lbs more than she should. I'm encouraging her to lose this by taking her exercising, but think she's eating sweets while at school - maybe using lunch money. I've been watching the videos and have started learning week two. Today I found a large bottle of alcoholic drink (empty) at the back of her wardrobe, covered with clothes and when I checked for other bottles in her drawers, I found some very unattractive panties from a sex shop or somewhere like that. My main concern is to try to turn her behaviour around before she throws away her life. I'm prepared to do 'poker face' when confronting her with these items. I know she's going to lie and get mad about going through her things. She's right in the middle of very important exams which will determine if she can go to college and I really want her to do well. Can you give me some advice? Regards, A.


Hi A.,

Re: potential alcohol abuse.

Please refer to the section of the eBook [online version – session #4] entitled Emails From Exasperated Parents.

Re: sex & poor self-esteem.

Here’s an email to your daughter (if you think she would actually read it without being offended). She doesn’t have to know it came from me. Maybe you can figure out some way to get her to read it:

Having low self-esteem can have a strong effect upon your personal relationships, especially when it comes to sex. The good news is you can get over it.

Have you ever:

  • Had sex with someone because you thought they'd accuse you of being frigid or scared if you didn't?
  • Thought that having sex with someone would mean they'd like you more?
  • Had sex so you'd appear more popular, desirable, or cooler to your friends?
  • Stayed in a relationship with someone who didn't treat you right because you thought you couldn't do any better, or were scared of being alone?

If you've answered yes to any of the above, it's likely that you're suffering from low self-esteem. Perhaps you don't have the confidence to say exactly what you feel for fear of how you'll come across.

So what is high self-esteem?

To put it simply, it means liking yourself. This doesn't mean you have be ultra-confident and cocky, but if you have a good opinion of you, you don't need reassurance from others. The key to good self-esteem is positive affirmation - telling yourself things that make you feel good about yourself, like 'I am attractive' or 'I am in charge of my life'."

Low self-esteem can be caused by many different factors. You might be lonely, or feeling unattractive or maybe you're being bullied. And if you don't feel confident, it means you can't say no and the vicious circle begins. You end up making bad decisions because you don't feel good about yourself. That's why you might have sex when you don't really want to: you want to be liked but, as you probably know already, that's not the best reason to have sex.

If other people know you have low self-esteem, you are also more prone to being pushed into doing things you don't want to do (drugs, sex, smoking) or being bullied. In extreme cases, having low self-esteem makes you more vulnerable to abusive relationships. The majority of victims are girls whose lack of confidence attracts these controlling boyfriends. In these relationships, many girls lose their confidence and are unable to assert their views, for example, if he won't wear a condom. If you're confident, it means you can say 'no condom, no sex!' If you're nervous, you won't be able to say boo to a goose, never mind no to your partner.

Take action

First of all, think about why you don't feel good. If you're conscious of your appearance, the key is to stop comparing yourself to the models in magazines or the prettiest girl/best-looking guy at school. Everyone is unique and we can't all be Kylies and Brads.

If you're feeling lonely, it's time to build on the friendships you have - you might even find that you're not alone in the way you feel. Having a strong family or friends network can do wonders for your well-being and will also stop you feeling depressed.

When it comes to sex, you have to look out for number one. Put your self-interest first. If someone is putting pressure on you to do something you're uncomfortable with, then try to get out of that situation immediately. For example, say you feel ill, or that you need to get home, or just say you're not ready. Once you're away from that scenario, you can think about what you want for yourself in this relationship. And if your boyfriend or girlfriend won't listen to and respect your feelings then it's time to say goodbye. Remember, you're a valuable human being and your body is for your pleasure.'

So next time you're in a difficult situation, take a step back and tell yourself you deserve better and that no-one has the right to tell you what to do, especially with something as personal as sex. It is your body and you're in charge of it.

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