Sometimes your dislike for your daughter's boyfriend goes beyond normal parental protectiveness; you really have a strong feeling that the guy she's chosen is insincere, inconsiderate or potentially violent. The statistics are discouraging. As of 2006, 61 percent of teens had dated someone who embarrassed them or negatively affected their self-esteem and 15 percent reported being involved with a physically abusive partner, according to Teen Research Unlimited. While your daughter's dating relationship with Mr. Wrong probably won't last, you can help her avoid a bad experience by helping her end a disastrous relationship sooner rather than later.
Build your relationship with your daughter based on trust, respect and love. Your daughter isn't going to listen to your relationship advice if you can't talk about daily matters without arguing.
Strengthen a volatile relationship with your daughter through shared activities, interests and open discussions to build trust and respectful feelings. Emotional closeness will give you the leverage and respect you need to discuss serious issues such as her relationship choices.
Model appropriate relationship behaviors by talking and acting respectfully with your spouse or former spouse. Gain credibility by showing your daughter that you know how to maintain a good relationship. Teens whose parents argue frequently are more likely to suffer from issues such as low self-esteem and depression, which makes them vulnerable to becoming involved with the wrong guy, according to an article on teen dating published on University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service website.
Broaching the Subject
Wait for the right moment to initiate a discussion about your daughter's relationship choices. Your advice will seem less intrusive if it's given when she's relaxed and feels close to you.
Look for teachable moments to offer education. Kate Fogarty, assistant developmental psychology professor at the University of Florida, writes that teens might become more interested in learning about biological, social and emotional changes if these facts are introduced with a context that's meaningful for your daughter. When watching a TV show, for example, you can say something along the lines of, "Yes that boy has really changed over the past year. He's probably just searching for his identity. That's normal for teenagers, but if he can't treat his girlfriend with respect during this time, she's better off without him."
Ask open-ended questions that initiate further discussion, rather than close-ended questions that require only "yes" or "no" answers. Examples include, "What do you think about how your friend Dylan treats his girlfriend?" or "When do you think it's time to end a relationship?"
Get to know your daughter's friends. Teenagers rely on their friends for guidance and support. Showing an interest in your daughter's friends serves a dual purpose: you not only learn what's going on in her life, but you demonstrate that you care about what's important to her.
Speak sooner rather than later. It's easier for your daughter to listen to your advice to end a bad relationship before she's spent a lot of time with the wrong boy. Use specific facts, such as "a boy who was aggressive with his old girlfriend is more likely to be aggressive with you." "I notice he's isolating you, that's a sign of a controlling boyfriend." Listen as much as you speak, keeping the dialogue open.
Discuss clear dating rules with your daughter including areas such as curfew, appropriate age of dating partners, no violence, no disrespectful language, no use of alcohol or drugs. If your daughter's boyfriend breaks the rules, you have an objective, unarguable reason to prohibit her dating him anymore.
Set and enforce the same set of rules for both your daughter and your son. Being consistent helps you gain respect and integrity in your daughter's eyes and makes it more likely that she'll listen to your advice about her dating choices.
Establish a clear protocol for how to disagree. While both you and your daughter have a right to express their opinions, you are the parent and should maintain parental control by consistently enforcing reasonable parental rules, even though your daughter might disagree.