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My 15 year old daughter was secretly seeing a very unsuitable man of 20...

I have just completed your 4 weeks programme and trying very hard to implement all the suggestions. I wish we had come across this several months ago.

We seemed to have a happy peaceful family before Christmas, but since then things fell apart. I realise now that we have indulged our two children and that my daughter especially is used to getting her own way.

My 15 year old daughter was secretly seeing a very unsuitable man of 20. She managed to see him for about 2 months before we realised. Once we found out about it, we sat down as a family and discussed it and asked her not to see him because we felt he was too old and not from our part of town, he also has a GBH tag (Has been in trouble for fighting). At first she seemed to go along with it but one day my husband found them together in bed at our home during school time. Discussions, leading to rages followed, and again asked her not to see him. The pressure built up at home and one day she ran away for a night. The police were called and a Child protection Officer came to talk to us all. We had already been in contact with him because of our concerns for our daughter.

The Child protection officer felt there needed to be compromises on both sides and suggested (as he actually knew the man) that perhaps we should let her see him as he is not considered dangerous. So we agreed she could see him, and she still is.

I feel, had we had the strategies in place before, our daughter may not have continued to see him or even gone behind our backs in the first place.

I feel there is an improvement at home now, but as we have agreed to let her see him - can I or should I try and stop it? Or is it too late and we will just have to wait and hope it fizzles out.

I would welcome your advice.



Hi L.,

One of my juvenile clients, Kaylee (17-years-old) has pretty much only dated older guys. "The guys in my own grade seem immature, and I've known them forever," she once said.

For Kaylee, dating guys a couple years older has meant having boyfriends who own cars, can afford to buy her nice things, and can take her to parties she wouldn't normally go to. It also means instant new friends — his friends.

And Kaylee's not alone. She says most of her friends have dated older guys, too. So does that mean the age gap is no biggie? Well, not necessarily. Some older guys may be more mature, more experienced, and able to drive, but they also come with more expectations, which may also mean more pressure about a lot of things, including sex. In fact, girls who date older guys are much more likely to have unintended pregnancies than those who date guys their own age. And when teenagers have sex with older partners, legal issues may come into play — but more on that later.

Age doesn't make a sleaze. But some guys do date younger girls to control them and to be idolized.

A good way to figure out an older boyfriend's motives is to look at his reputation and how he's treated past girlfriends. Is he just kind and respectful ... or is he kind and respectful and controlling? This may be hard to determine, since control isn't always as obvious as saying "do this" or "don't do that." People can be controlling in ways that are more subtle. Making partners feel like they have to choose between the relationship and family or friends is one way of being controlling. Checking up on them constantly, or trying to influence them to act, talk, or dress in certain ways are others.

Tyeria, 17, felt an ex who was three years older took the control in the relationship because she was expected to spend most of her time with his friends — he wasn't into her same-age friends. Kaylee also thought she had less control because all of her older boyfriends seemed to be cooler, and she felt pressured trying to fit in with each new, "cooler" set of friends.

A girl who's hooking up with an older guy needs to think about something else, too — the law. Each state has its own laws governing the age of consent — the age at which a person is considered to be old enough to agree to have sex. States can also have different rules depending on whether it's two girls, two guys, a girl and a guy, or even what kind of sex they are having!

People above a state's age of consent who have sex with people below a state's age of consent can be charged with statutory rape. This is true even if the younger people are willing, because the law says they aren't old enough to legally give consent. "Statutory rape" is a crime that can be punished with a jail sentence for the older person.

Hundreds of older men go to jail every year for having sex with younger women. It can happen in same-sex relationships, too. In one recent case in Indiana, an 18-year-old guy was sentenced to 17 years in prison for having sex with a girl who was just a few days shy of turning 15.

So should your daughter run the other way? Not necessarily. But it's a good idea for her to think things through. Who will be in control? What are her expectations? What are his? What are your risks? Could there be legal problems?

It will also be helpful for her to talk things through with someone whose opinions she can trust and value, whether it's her best friend, a sibling, you the parent, or another trusted adult.

When dating older — and for dating in general — it's best to enter the relationship with your eyes wide open.


My Out-of-Control Teen

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi, younger ex girlfriend here. I dated a 21 year old guy at 16. If it were me, and she was hell bent on seeing him, I'd let them date - but if she's under 16, there's no way they should keep having sex. If a guy that old is really set on dating a girl under 16, he needs to accept some restrictions and it doesn't sound like he's doing that.
Also - it's not impossible they'll go on to live together or marry, but I highly doubt it. Unless he's the super mature dedicated type, he'll move on after a few months and she'll be left with a really fragile self esteem and patterns that'll just repeat. She needs counselling to work out her issues and will need a lot of compassion and helping to understand what happened after the breakup.

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