Unwelcome Advice

10 Mar

Dear LetterBalm: My 16-year-old daughter has a best friend whose mom isn’t the best role model. She’s divorced and seems to have a lot of men in her life, apparently allowing them to spend the night. She put her daughter on birth control at age 15, which concerns me. My daughter spends a lot of time at her friend’s house, and this woman is advising her about her first real boyfriend. I don’t want to stop my daughter from seeing her friend, but I also don’t want her to be exposed to a potentially negative influence from her mother. What can I say to my girl to strike the right balance?

–Well-Meaning Mom

You’re smart not to restrict your daughter from seeing her friends. To do so would provoke defiance and hard feelings. And, she would only lie about seeing her friend and her mom, which would lead to broken trust and lack of communication. You are, however, right to be concerned, but you must consider your options carefully. You can have a heart-to-heart talk with the mother. You can have a little chat with your daughter or you can say nothing to either of them for now. Ms. L.B. believes the wisest course of action is to say and do nothing. Certainly, approaching your daughter on any level might set her off – c’mon, we all know how teenage girls can be. And, we all know that their affections are fleeting. It may well be that this close relationship with the woman will blow over in time, as may your daughter’s relationship with her boyfriend. Don’t lose heart – if you’ve raised your daughter well, you’ll ultimately be her biggest influence. But if you must, invite her friend’s mom for coffee and keep it light, brief and non-judgmental. Something like this:

Erin, I am so grateful that Lucy is so fond of you and that you’ve taken such an interest in her. It’s difficult for teenagers to even talk to adults these days. I know you understand that Lucy is young and rather naïve, and that she has her first real boyfriend. I appreciate your support in urging Lucy to take it slow with Lennie.

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