Posted by: Ask Arden | January 12, 2010

Behind Closed Doors:What is my teenage daughter up to?

As a Mom have you ever wondered what your teenage daughter was doing behind closed doors for more than an hour at a time? If you give a listen sometimes you hear a favorite sitcom, MTV, VH1, Music, her skyping a pal and talking on the phone. If you give a look, for instance and knock on the door, What is it, she says, hi just seeing how you are doing, and she lets you in, you may see her on her cell phone texting or she may have just put down the cover of her lap top etc.,

All seemingly innocent, right? How do you know that? Ever tempted to read her journal, if she writes in one, and after unhappy that you did? What do you do if you find out something that she is doing is not in her best interest or just plain destructive? Can you imagine snooping and your daughter finding out. Oh, will she be infuriated.

So what’s a mother to do?
One brave Mom, a new patient of mine, found herself in such a predicament. She shared with me that she found some lewd pictures and texts that were very sexually charged. She actually typed out what she read. We read through them together. How did you manage to go through her cell? Apparently her daughter did not erase and was a bit sloppy with leaving her phone around the home. Mom was both curious and suspicious that something was up.

I am sure you are aware, in the news, of a terrible incident where some female sent a nude picture of herself to her boyfriend which went around the school, the Internet, facebook, you name it. Once she discovered what happened she was obviously feeling humiliated, ashamed, infuriated and tried to kill herself.

This Mom was afraid that something like that could happen to her daughter or one of her daughters friends.
The problem for her was how to bring up what she found? She did not recognize the nude picture but felt her daughter had to know who she was.

The sexting made her hair stand up. She was shocked with how graphic the language was between her 15 year old daughter and her 16 year old boyfriend. She had no idea that they were having sexual contact, going almost all the way. She felt that she wanted to intervene before it got even more heated up between her daughter and boyfriend. She did not want to share any of this with her husband and cried during the session, that she did not envision her daughter growing up like this. It’s all too fast, she said. She felt between a rock and a hard place.

This is a tough one! How can she bring up her concern to her daughter that it’s moving too fast between her and her boyfriend. That some of the sexting is down right disrespectful and degrading to her, but maybe her daughter finds it amusing, flirtatious and raunchy. Ah, my daughter is not so innocent and down right hormonal. This is beyond a birds and the bees conversation, but it is about a healthy regard for herself, slowing things down a bit, so that her brain is a bit more in charge.

So I advised Mom to come from an apologetic, loving position. I am so sorry that I read some texts between you and your boyfriend that made me feel uncomfortable and concerned. I told Mom to brace herself for a blast of rage and that’s just what happened. I continued to coach her to say, I deserve your anger, you must feel so betrayed and upset that I intruded on your private conversation. You probably are thinking that I do not trust you as well.

Her daughter nodded and said, well what do you think I’d feel? Mom was advised to stay calm and try to sit down on her bed, that’s where the conversation happened, and not make her daughter feel like she was doing anything wrong, but that she was worried for her.

I advised Mom to inquire gently about the nude photo and the tone of the texting. Mom was appreciative of her attraction and love for her boyfriend. Her daughter actually shared that they were both thinking of having sex, but decieded not to just yet. Mom breathed a sigh of relief and asked her to continue to talk with him and to think it through. Her health, welfare, safety and being appropriately self protective was the direction of the conversation. Mom said to her to please feel free to approach and speak with her regularly. That she could be helpful, that she was once a teenager as well.

What could have been a disaster actually helped Mom and daughter feel more connected and closer with each other.

The most important strategy to keep in mind Mom is to trust your gut. If you think something is off with your daughter than maybe it is.

Here are some of the Red Flags:

If she is becoming increasingly more secretive, overly private, testy, sneeky, acting out of character, too defensive when nicely questioned, than something may be going on that you need to become aware of.

Your approach must be non-confrontational and coming from a place of love. Be brave and patient. Do not talk down to her.

If you start to feel riled up, please leave the room and calm yourself down. It can wait for another day.

You are building a connection with your daughter. I want a positive outcome for you both. Keep the faith and don’t stop trying.



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