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Author Topic: Is it toxic
Exhorter
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I am a parent of a 15 year old daughter. She is the greatest. Not that there are no problems,there are, but that is really not what I am seeking advice on. So far the biggest problem we have with her is her mouth. Not cursing just smarting off to me and speaking her thoughts to others. If she feels she is right she will let you know about it. She is very strong willed has always been. Not afraid to tell you how she feels but she is not rude about it. She just tells you how she sees it.
Here is the problem. My daughter who I will call J has had a boyfriend since she was 13. Now I know that some are saying why so young? The reason was that they met in church and well it just seemed harmless at first. I thought they would just out grow their friendship and that it would pass. Well it has been 2 years now and it has not passed at all. Over the two years it has been nothing but CRAZY not because of them but because of the mother of the bf. She is very very strict and will not let them even sit together. Now we are friends and we spend time together inside of church and outside. We love this family but this mothers parent skills and mine just differ. She got pregnate at the age of 15 married divorced then remarried had two more kids then divorced and married the man who she is with now they have a blended family of 6 kids. These children are not allowed to get out of their site. That is the teen boys (4 of them) but the younger kids two girls are allowed to well lets say do what they want. Here is the deal in a nut shell. J comes home almost every weekend after church crying about something that the mother has done or said or that she has not let them do. Such as sit by each other in church service ( even with me on the front row they can not sit together with me) they are not allowed to sit together. She sends this young man to his grandmothers all the time when we have things special going on in the church to keep them from being together. The son stays grounded and when he is grounded he is not even allowed to look at my daughter let along say anything to her. My husband and I have spoken with the parents and have ask them if they would lighten up somewhat and they say NO that their son is not going to be left without supervison no matter what.We told them we agree but why can't the at least sit together her remark is because he will not listen to the pastor. When I ask why they are not allow to even sit and talk when we have things like church functions where others are sitting and talking. Her response is I will not let them talk when I can not hear what they are talking about. It is my job to make sure nothing happens and that is the way it will be until he is 18. In the mean time J cries and cries just to be able to talk to her boyfreind. The thing is due to the mother and her rules my daughter and her are always at each other and it has now come into the church. My daugther is always crying even in the service. Please I need some advice here. I have tried talking to the parents about letting them have a once a month parent supervised date like taking them to eat and to a movie or to bowl, something that would reward
their good behavior. See she will not even leave the room due to fear that they will touch each other. So we have this no touch rule with them. But I feel once they have obeyed this rule for a month and get no strikes against them they should be rewarded. I just can't see this going on for another 4 years until he turns 18. I know my husband is at his wits end. He is an elder in the church and well lets just say he is very tired of seeing our daughter so unhappy. We have tried to tell her that this relationship is not going anywhere but she does not see it that way. She says she is willing to wait as long as it take for this boy. HELP!

Posts: 6 | From: Texas | Registered: Feb 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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You know, it seems pretty clear that it's not likely anything you do is going to influence your daughter's boyfriend's family.

And you're right: it's really up to your daughter to see that and to realize that there are limitations on her relationship that she or you and her father can't do anything about: you've tried, but it hasn't been fruitful.

One really tough thing is that this kind of situation only tends to up the drama more, when first relationships are intense and dramatic enough. When parents purposefully keep young people apart, the relationship of course becomes all the more compelling. But again: this isn't something you're doing, and it seems you have no influence over those who do.

So, the best I can suggest is to talk to your daughter, remind her that you've tired really hard to help with this, but that clearly, nothing is going to change. Express your shared distress over it, and how you can't stand to see her huriing and agree this is unreasonable, but that you can't control the situation. I'd then discuss with her that if a relationship causes us more pain than joy -- even when our other is awesome, but external circumstances are causing the distress -- that it's worth evaluating if it's healthy, or something that's right for now.

If she says she's willing to wait, then you might suggest that she wait, but not by trying to stay in this, but by she and this guy moving back to a friendship until his parents get a clue or until he is old enough to leave home. I think it's also valid to ask that if she chooses to stay in this, knowing it's impossible, that she work out a way to cope with it without making your whole family suffer, too. In other words, if she chooses to be suffering, that's her right, but you two going to sleep every night to sobbing really isn't fair. If she's staying in this, and this is what she wants, knowing things are likely going to be this way for some time, then it's up to her to come to some acceptance of that.

It might also be worth your husband seeing, as an elder, if he can't organize a meeting for parents about the realities of teen dating and just teen parenting, period. Teenagers are at a developmental phase in life that is all about identity-discovery, and starting to make moves towards adulthood, including relationships and being more independent. Stifling or controlling all of that does not tend to result in healthy adults: teens do need some room to breathe.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 67933 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Exhorter
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Thanks for your input in this situation. We will once again be setting up a meeting with the parents tomorrow to let them know that we feel again that there is no reason why they are not allowed to sit together and to talk. Tonight at church we had a service that was a fun night. That is where we just spend time having fellowship together. We eat and then break off and talk to one another. So again tonight same thing they were not even allowed to be in the same area together,people all around but still she rode that young man until I wanted to scream.
Anyway thank you and once this meeting is over tomorrow it will be up to my daughter to decide what she will do, but I like your thought about letting her know the whole family will not suffer just because she decides to wait. My only thing is now trying to keep it out of the church as there is always so much drama between the mom and my daughter. I am afraid that someone is going to say something soon if they do not cut it out. My husband has spoken to J about her attitude and told her to watch her mouth and her actions in church. He has told her that church is not the place to argue about her boyfreind or with his mom.

Posts: 6 | From: Texas | Registered: Feb 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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Well, if it gets brought out at church it gets brought out at church.

Really -- and it seems like you know this -- there is a point at which control becomes abusive, and it looks to me like this guy's parents are either teetering over that edge or are already there. So, while it certainly would be socially uncomfortable, it also seems to me that church is not a totally inappropriate place for that to get addressed. This guy being Cinderella'd by his parents is certainly something that would have a real impact on his quality of life, and their parenting is certainly a part of their spiritual life...so.

But it certainly sounds like the two of you are being really exceptional when it comes to doing all you can for your daughter and her boyfriend to make things better for the both of them, so no matter what happens, hopefully both she and you can recognize that and know you exhausted your options.

At this meeting, you really might also mention that making a relationship taboo is far more likely to have the effect you think the mother is most afraid of -- to result in risky, impulsive behavior -- than to prevent it. When adults make teen relationships into Romeo and Juliet situations, expecting positive results isn't realistic.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Exhorter
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We held our meeting with the parents and it was long. It started off good and we seemed to agree that maybe the best thing would be for them to earn some type of reward for following the rules on the no touch and just rules set up for them such as not being alone in a room or taking off and being away from the other teens at the church. Of couse they never do cause mom is either on them, or has the two youngest hanging around them the whole time. Anyway as we talked it got harder as we expressed that we needed to lighten up just a tad and let them have some time together. They did agree to that as well but then once we talked about it more they decided we were asking them to compromise their parenting skills becasue we told them that we should let them sit alone without the other kids bugging them. So really the husband got mad and walked out and then my husband left and finally me and the mom just decided to let them meet once a day for a period of about 30 minutes so that they can at least talk and have some time together. However the mom informed me that she has 6 kids to my one and that there would be days they would not be allowed to meet. I feel that is her way of once again controlling the situation and says they will do what I want when I want. Yesterday J got to talk with him but it was not as we agreeded it was with the two little girls around and the other kids all around as well. So I am pretty sure it is not going to change. I just do not know what to do as my daughter is living her teen years with a dark cloud hanging over her.
Posts: 6 | From: Texas | Registered: Feb 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
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(Exhorter, I'm going to see if I can't get a parent educator in your home state who is pretty great to swing by here and give you some extra advice. If she can't, I'll hop back to this by the end of the wee.)

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Karen Rayne
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Hi Heather and Exhorter. This sounds like a really hard situation!

Exhorter, I really admire your dedication to your daughter and your systematic and conscientious relationship work. Your time and energies are providing her with great examples of how to effectively and kindly address interpersonal problems.

First, I want to say that I fully agree with what Heather said about moving some of your focus to helping your daughter work through her attachment to her boyfriend so that it doesn't continue to drag the family down.

I also wonder if your church minister might be a useful person to help move the conversation with the other family forward? Perhaps he could even offer to allow the two to meet in his office under his watchful eye some time?

While I am a sex educator for teenagers, I also do a lot of parent education. Particularly, I work with parents to help guide them towards effective parenting styles around issues of sex and sexuality. I also support parents in finding ways to guide their teenagers to behaviors that are within the parents' moral and ethical belief systems - again, particularly around issues of sex and sexuality. It sounds like you daughter's boyfriend's family could really benefit from some time spent with me!

While I don't know where in Texas you are (it is a big state, after all!) I would be delighted to meet with you in person or talk over the phone to see how I can support you and maybe the other family as well in coming to a place of acceptance and support of your teenagers. Feel free to e-mail me directly if you would like to continue the conversation off-list ( karen.rayne@gmail.com karen.rayne@gmail.com).

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Dr. Karen Rayne
www.unhushed.net

Posts: 2 | From: Austin, TX | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Exhorter
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Thanks so much Heather and Karen for your help in this situation. Karen I will be contacting you by email.
Posts: 6 | From: Texas | Registered: Feb 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Exhorter
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So tonight my daughter and her bf got to come to our home to have their 30 minutes to talk. The bf informed us that his parents are not going to go for this meeting all the time. He said his parents are mad about it and will be wanting to talk to us about the rules that we all set up at the meeting. My daughter of course was upset and the boy left with my daughter crying because his parents are upset and she is afraid they are going to stop them from talking. I think I forgot to let you know that both my daughter and the bf and his siblings are all homeschooled, so they do not get to see each other at school either.
This situation has got to improve or I am not sure how much more our family can take without blowing up at this family it is getting harder with each day.

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Stephanie_1
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Exhorter,

If you don’t mind … I’d like to add a thought or two from the younger end of the equation. It came as no surprise to me that your daughter’s boyfriend’s family home schools. While you seem to respect your daughter and trust in her ability of good decision making-which is the ideal home schooling environment because it’s not restrictive- they don’t trust their son and home schooling for them allows them to watch their children like the proverbial hawks (personal thought bias of course).

Heather’s suggestion for the parent meeting is a great start – and it’s understandable that it’s taking more than one meeting. It’s one of those things … people tend to like sticking with their own opinions and it’s difficult to change that. Something you may want to think about in addition to talking with just the parents is setting up some kind of a meeting with parents and the teens. It’s great that you’re talking in their favor for the relationship – but it’s also important that his parent’s hear the opinion of not only their son, but your daughter as well straight from the source (and of course with an agreement of truly allowing open talking and listening before responding). Your being there would ensure that they have the chance to talk without being “bullied” (and I use this term for lack of a better one) into not speaking their opinions by the parent’s that are unsupportive of their relationship. I like Karen’s idea about speaking with the minister (if you’re comfortable doing so) because having a nonbiased party present may help “mediate” the discussions. I know my cousin is going through a similar situation – I was one of two mediators. They and their parents all met and after the meeting wrote up a kind of “contract” that everyone signed. Since the contract meeting, her boyfriend’s parents have started to let the proverbial leash loosen a good bit. If it seems like they won’t budge at all … it may be just as well that they not see each other except for friends for right now. It’s not fair to either of them to have to go through this.

The one thing I’m left to wonder still is if his parents are thinking of the fact that being told something’s not allowed – that thing can at times become much more appealing. Like when someone gets braces and are told no gum … and then even the typical non gum chewer may suddenly want gum. Her restrictions may very well turn to have an opposing result to the one she’s pushing towards. To borrow my aunt’s quote, “Sometimes as a parent you just have to take a step back and trust that you’ve brought them up with the knowledge for the decisions they will make. You can always converse with them from time to time later on … but if you don’t stand in their way – they’re more likely to come to you when they need advice. That’s how parent’s really keep their kids close … by allowing them to walk out the door knowing it’s always open for them to walk back in.”

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"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon

Posts: 3426 | From: Pennsylvania | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Exhorter
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Thanks Stephanie for sharing with me your thought on this situation. Yes I am afraid it is going to take more than one meeting for us to work this mess out. After tonight when the bf told us his parents said they would not sign a contract that stated they could talk during the week for 30 minutes. Now we thought this had been settled as that is what we had discussed on our meeting that Saturday. When the bf told me and my husband we said nothing in response to his comment, then he said it could just be away for them to still keep controling this situation and to hold it over my head. Even this young man understands the control issues that are going on here. One of the hardest things in all of this is the fact we are neighbors, friends, and we go to church together at least 3-4 times a week doing many different things at the church. WE live very very close as the lots are not big we live on. So we can not even go out into our yard that they do not know it and same with them. This is why it is so hard on my daughter as everytime she sees him in the yard she of course wants to go over and say hi but his mom does not like this and will find something for him to do to bring him back away from her son.
I have spoken with my daughter over and over again about them just being friends and she says that is fine but my feelings will remain the same for him and I will wait no matter how long it takes.

One problem I have with my daughter is lack of respect for this mom. She and the mom go head to head all the time and my daughter will not back down. This of course makes my daughter look like a disrespectful teen in the eyes of the mom. But I promise you that is not the case at all. It is just this mom pushes her buttons and well she pushed back. Let me give you an example. The other night we were leaving the church and we had let my daughter and the bf have the 30 minutes there at the church. When the time was up the mother of course said ok time is up now. My daughter then said " all ready" the mom then says to her "yes J it is up" well my daughter then says to her well you don't have to be so rude about it. ( the mom did use a not so nice tone) but then when my daughter said you don't have to be rude the mom says I am not rude you are just pissed off because your time is up. She said that right in front of several people. One being my husband the elder. Before we all left the church my daughter was once again crying. Now in the moms defence I must let you know that she did text my husband and tell him she was sorry for saying what she did about my daughter being pissed off. This kind of things goes on everyday it does not matter how long they are together in a room something is going to be said and it will either set the mom or my daughter off.

I know that it seems like I am just repeating myself over and over as I talk here but sometimes it is just nice to have a place to go and talk. Thanks everyone for listening to me vent and for those who have given me hope in this sticky situation.

Posts: 6 | From: Texas | Registered: Feb 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Stephanie_1
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The bad thing about this whole situation is that his parent’s don’t seem to *care* about the fact that he has his own thoughts and feelings. It’s not realistic for them to think that they can run his life forever. What happens if and when he decides that he wants to go to college? At 21, a college student myself – I know that I’ve had to make a lot of really hard decisions. I also understand that my parents allowing me to make decisions all along (and admittedly quite a lot of mistakes along the way) allowed me to make those mistakes in an environment where whatever falling had to be done as a consequence … I had a lot of supportive people to catch me. I can’t help but worry what will happen to him when he enters the world outside of his parent’s influence and how he’ll know what decisions he should make for his own good … especially since they don’t allow him to make them now.

I know you have spoken to your daughter about them going back to being friends for now, but have you talked to the other parent’s? It seems to me that even if they say they will go back to being friends, because they only have supervised visits in addition to the no touching rule … moving to just being friends wouldn’t be too much of a change from the relationship they have now. And she’s certainly right … being friends won’t change how they feel about one another. I have no doubt that his parents will see this as well … and with that may try the same tactics they have been even if they say that they are just friends. Just kind of a heads up on something to watch out for. You may want to mention to them that you don’t want this situation to come between your families as friends, but she needs to understand how this is making her son and your daughter feel. A huge point is why she won’t trust their son … he seems from what you’ve said to have a good head on his shoulders.

I’d like to ask you to consider something from your daughter’s position as far as her lack of respect goes. As an adult … do you tend to respect those people that don’t show you respect? I’ve always found it funny when people say to “respect your elders” because honestly why does age have so much an impact on respect? I know some people my parent’s age that I certainly don’t feel deserve any respect with the way that they treat people. Because this other mother doesn’t respect your daughter … it’s not all that surprising that they butt heads. Anytime teens speak out or butt heads with an adult it’s seen as disrespectful, but all in all when we’re not respected it’s extremely difficult for us in turn to give respect back (just as it is with any person at any age). You may want to just mention to her that when she and this mom go back and forth it’s not likely to help the situation on her end at all … and while it may be difficult to do so she should try the age old “kill them with kindness” rule. When they’re together and not in public she could perhaps mention “I’d like to speak with you one to one about the situation unfolding here.” Then she can calmly lay out her points of discussion and to the mother would likely be seen as more adult for being able to do so. Not to mention that really the mother should be apologizing to your daughter and not to you and your husband – and your daughter should likely do the same. This allows them to meet once again on even terms where they can both better decide to treat the situation as well as one another as responsible individuals.

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"Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side" ~Anon

Posts: 3426 | From: Pennsylvania | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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