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Older Boyfriend

ANNIE, age: 14
My dad is much too strict and he won’t let me do anything. My dad doesn’t like my boyfriend because he’s in high school and I’m in the 8th grade. He doesn’t understand me and won’t let me have any fun. I have to lie and sneak to see my boyfriend.

Annie is barely 14 and she likes a 16-year-old boy. I told her she’s too young to date and I don’t want her to see this older boy. I know that she talks to him on the phone and I fear she is seeing him behind my back. A teacher called me to say she talks about having sex with this boy to her classmates in school. Annie tells me she isn’t seeing him, but I’m still worried.

Annie, think about what interests you about his boy. Is he nice to you? Does he treat you well? Does he respect you? Does he honor your wishes? If not, you could do better. If he does, perhaps you could explain to your father what you see in him. Maybe you could come up with a compromise about seeing him. Perhaps your dad will let you have him over when he is home. If you want to build trust with your father, you need to be truthful with him. Lying will only cause more problems.

Antoine, You have a reason to be concerned, not only because of your daughter’s interest in this older boy, but because you suspect she’s lying to you. Talk to her about all the consequences of becoming sexually active. Don’t assume that she already knows this. Most kids don’t understand the facts about sex. If needed, get a book or other resources in case she has questions that you can’t answer. Since she has this boyfriend, there is a chance she’s already had sex or at least that she could be considering it. There is a possibility that she’s just talking about sex with her classmates in an attempt to seek attention. The fact that she’s not being truthful with you means the two of you aren’t connecting as parent and child. Make sure you always know her whereabouts and the company she’s keeping.

In the context of a loving, supportive relationship, you need to communicate clearly to your daughter that you disapprove of her having sex. Ideally, this should have started at a young age, prior to puberty, before it was a pressing concern. Placing a high premium on education and self-worth may empower her to have confidence and to set goals for the future.
Girls with high self-esteem and who feel accepted at home are less likely to have sex. If they have positive and meaningful relationships with a parent, they are less likely to seek acceptance elsewhere such as in a sexual relationship with a boyfriend. This means you have to spend quality time with your daughter and change may not happen overnight. Let her know that she can always come to you even if she’s done something you may not approve of. If she has already become sexually active, a doctor should see her. Hang in there, you can still have an important influence in Annie’s life.

Louise Hajjar Diamond has been a guidance counselor for twelve years. She is also a freelance writer and mother of two.

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