When your daughter hits the dating scene, you may hold your breath and cross your fingers that you approve of her choices. If you don’t like her guy, tread carefully. Objecting too forcefully might make matters worse, and may actually strengthen her attraction to this wrong boy. With firm limits and judicious guidance, you can preserve your connection with your teen and discourage her connection with him.
Talk to your adolescent about your concerns. Without projecting anger, discuss the reasons you feel concerned about her connection with this boy. If possible, state facts instead of just feelings or inklings you have about the boy, warns social worker James Lehman, with the Empowering Parents website. For example, if he runs with a wild crowd or has had trouble with the law, bring up these points. Avoid sharing criticisms like that you don’t like his color of hair or the jewelry he wears, because this might lead your daughter to strengthen her ties to him.
Set limits about your daughter’s contact with the boy to ensure ongoing supervision when she’s with him, advises psychologist Susan Bartell, writing for Education.com. You might insist that the kids spend time together at your home where you can chaperone their activities. You might also limit where she goes with him if it involves unchaperoned time. Advise your daughter of specific consequences -- perhaps grounding or loss of her cell phone -- that will occur if she breaks the rules.
Watch your attitude and demeanor when you interact with him. Remain respectful and cordial when he’s at your home visiting your daughter. Mistreating him might cause a negative reaction from your daughter and lead her to strengthen her desire to be with him.
Discuss risk-taking behaviors with your daughter in a frank and open manner. If you think it’s possible that she’s having sex, discuss safe sex and birth control. If you think that associating with this boy might lead her to experiment with drugs or alcohol, talk about the risk to her personal health and the potential legal ramifications of illegal behavior.
Resist the urge to criticize and push your daughter to break up with her boyfriend. Instead, maintain a close connection with her and enforce the rules and limits consistently to help keep her safe. If your daughter breaks rules about how and where she sees him, follow through with the promised consequence. It’s likely that your respectful and neutral stance will encourage your daughter to end the relationship sooner rather than later.