Dear Dr. Bill,
We’re having some trust issues with our 14-year-old daughter. My husband and I confronted her about a boyfriend relationship she started behind our back. We told her that she was too young for a romantic relationship, and she agreed to abide by our rules.
Since then, we’ve discovered that she started a Facebook account without us knowing it. We also learned that she and this boy are still interacting with each other.
This situation has created a lot of tension and distrust in our home. Our daughter feels like we’ve violated her privacy, and she tells her friends what bad parents we are. What should we do?
We need to set limits and boundaries on our kids’ behavior, but without a loving relationship, all the rules in the world will be ineffective. They may even drive a permanent wedge between us and our kids.
You say your daughter started seeing this boy “behind your back” and that you were shocked to learn about it. That seems to indicate the lines of communication have been down for some time.
In addition to providing your daughter with boundaries and structure, do you provide her with affection, affirmation and encouragement?
Does she feel “safe” with you and your husband—can she share her hopes and failures without fear of criticism? Do you extend grace and mercy to her when she makes mistakes?
A great book to get you started on the path to a better relationship with your daughter is "Grace-Based Parenting" by Tim Kimmel.
Thanks for writing Karen. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.