Out of Control Teens:
“My daughter is sneaking around to see her boyfriend.”

Dear Annie,

My 16 year old daughter has a boyfriend that is 20 years old. My husband thinks the boy is too old and told her she was not allowed to see him anymore. He also called the boy and threatened to call the police if he sees my daughter again.

My daughter is now sneaking around to see this boy. She told me she really likes him a lot. It is my opinion that we should meet her boyfriend and get to know him so everything will be out in the open. My husband is against it and is still threatening to call the police.

We need an outside opinion. Please help.

She's Too Young

Dear She's Too Young,

While at first take I'd generally agree that a 16 year is playing with fire by dating a 20 year old... The ages alone don't tell the whole story.

Back off from the police idea for now. You'll just inflame the situation. You don't want your daughter sneaking around behind your back, nor do you want to create a "Romeo and Juliet" syndrome in which she feels obliged to defy your wishes just based on teen logic.

Your solution sounds like a way to avoid a premature confrontation.

Sure, invite the young man over and put him under a magnifying class. How about an evening with the family? In that way you can also get a sense of your daughter in this relationship. My biggest fear with a younger girl and an older guy is that the guy may try to control her and that can lead to an unbalanced and unhealthy situation. So, my suggestion is to invite him over for a meal. Ask lots of questions (in a friendly manner).

What do you already know about the guy? Do you know anything about his family? Is he a student? Where did they meet? Is he a friend of anyone you and your daughter already know? These are some things to find out.

The goal is to get to know this guy, not to prejudge him. The other goal is to make sure that your daughter is comfortable and safe being herself around him. Any pretense or overly-submissive behavior would be a warning sign. Another thing to be on the lookout for is the way he treats her. The keys lie in mutual respect... Overly solicitous or controlling behavior are RED FLAGS.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,

Annie

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