The fact that your daughter calls her love interest her "boyfriend" means you may have lost the strategic early position in influencing her dating behavior, but that doesn't mean you should give up. Approach the dating situation with an open mind and avoid confrontation. This gives you a better chance of persuading your daughter to consider your views about her boyfriend. Develop an open relationship with your daughter to talk about important life choices -- like selecting boyfriends. Teen girls are more apt to share dating details with parents they view as trusted confidants.
Evaluate Your Feelings
Sit down to evaluate your feelings before approaching your daughter about her boyfriend. Organize your thoughts into specific categories, including what you factually know about her boyfriend and relationship, what you fear about the situation and your preferences about who your daughter should date. Evaluate the reasons for your dislike using the lists to separate feelings based on fact from emotions. Irrational fears may include an immediate marriage between the two, while a list of what you know about the boyfriend may include the fact he dropped out of school and doesn't work or something less potentially troublesome that simply annoys you, in which case you may need to consider the young man's positive traits, including how he treats your daughter.
Help without Control
Your daughter decides if and when to end a relationship, but when the partnership involves dangerous or abusive behavior, you need to immediately step in to help her, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime. The signals that she needs your help include signs of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Your teenage daughter doesn't have the experience to compare her boyfriend's treatment with other relationships, and she may view the situation as normal behavior. Identify a teen counseling group, abuse hotline and a professional therapist, and encourage her to talk to others about her situation. Your daughter needs your love and support during this time, not reprimands from family and friends.
Listen to your daughter when she talks about her relationships and what she wants from dating. Fear of being alone, hopelessness in finding another boyfriend and false loyalty may motivate your daughter to continue in a relationship, according to according to Jefferson City Rape and Abuse Crisis Service. Develop a wants-and-needs chart, even an informal mental list, to give her a framework to think about her relationship and compare it against the standards the two of you discuss. Don't expect to develop a chart in one discussion. It may take weeks to move beyond the opening discussion of topics dealing with dating needs and relationship desires.
Open Communication Channels
People sometimes stay in unsatisfying or negative relationships because of embarrassment or fear of having to admit a mistake, according to Jefferson City Rape and Abuse Crisis Service. Keep communication channels open and allow your daughter to use you as a sounding board about her boyfriend. Research done by Ohio State University at Marion psychology instructor Christopher Daddis in 2010 found teen girls rely on talking as a way to think through dating situations, and recommends chatting with your daughter about her relationships. Avoid giving unsolicited advice with statements such as, "I think a good relationship includes sharing, and your boyfriend doesn't share things with you." Guide the discussion to focus on family values and allowing your daughter to make sound decisions with questions such as, "What do you like about your boyfriend?" and "Are there things that concern you about your relationship?"
- Jefferson City Rape and Abuse Crisis Service: Why People Stay in Abusive Relationships
- Ohio State University: Teen Girls Talk More to Parents About Their Dating Habits Than Do Boys
- National Center for Victims of Crime: Bulletins for Teens -- Dating Violence
- Office of Adolescent Health: Teen Dating Violence -- Awareness and Prevention
- Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment Project Test: Relations Between Social Support and Physical Health
- Better Health Channel: Parenting -- Communicating with Teenagers
- PBS Parents: Understanding and Raising Girls
- Blackboard Academic Suite: The Five-Step Decision Making Process
- New York Center for Nonviolent Communication: Needs List
- University of Wisconsin Office of Human Resource Development: About Conflict
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