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14-Year-Old Girl Making Unhealthy Choices with Boyfriend

​​ Para Español


My 14-year-old daughter has developed an unhealthy relationship with a boy from her school who is the same age. She has snuck out of the house to see him, has invited him into our home when we are at work and has been suspended from school after the two of them were caught together in the boy's locker room. I have found letters from him asking her not to talk to certain boys at school.

I have moved her out of state to live with her father. He has enrolled her in school there. She says she is very sorry and wants to come home. She says she never wants to see the boy again. We don't know if we can trust her. We do plan to have her eventually move back with me. What should I do to prepare her to return to her old school? Am I doing the right thing?


The choices your daughter has made to be alone with this boy are concerning and go beyond interest in the opposite sex that is typical at this age. It might be that the meetings were the boy's idea or that she even felt pressured to meet with him. But ultimately, she made the choice too.

Lack of maturity and insecurity may be playing a part, but the fact that he is telling her who she can and cannot talk to indicates that he is a controller. This is not a trait you want to see in a guy to whom your daughter is attracted.

Too much privacy for a young couple at this age is dangerous. It puts individuals in a compromising position and tempts them to engage in physical/sexual activities that are difficult to resist during the hormone-driven teen years. The fact that she partook in risky behavior at school and snuck out of the house raises safety issues as well.

You sent a strong message to her by moving her away for a while. Do you have a date for her return? You and her father need to be on the same page and present a united front on whatever you decide. Disruptions in the school year and social agendas can be pretty tough on kids. She may be truly sorry for her behavior and not want to see the boy again. But it would be wise to set up very specific house rules and expectations in regard to her relationships when she returns. You can even talk about future consequences if she breaks the rules again.

It is appropriate to change the rules or add new ones as she gets older. For example, a child at age 13 probably does not need specific driving rules, but at 15 some very specific rules such as curfew, seatbelt usage, passengers, etc. need to be discussed and agreed upon before she can actually drive.

Trust will have to be built again. Her actions and her good behavior together will help build that trust again. It takes time to heal wounds once trust is broken.  Start by letting her have a few privileges at a time. Eventually she can earn the privilege to go out with a group of friends to a movie, for example. It really is in her hands. Be sure to praise her when you see that her behavior has changed.

In time, she will earn back that trust. We all make mistakes. Look at the mistakes our children make as teaching opportunities.