Dear Dr. Bill,
Our 16-year-old daughter just admitted that her boyfriend spent the night in our home while we were out of town. We told her she won’t be allowed to see this boy again, but what else should we do? We know she needs to be disciplined, but we don’t want to push her away. Should we show mercy because she willingly told us what happened?
Our daughter has never acted like this before and we believe she’s truly repentant. She assures us that — quote: “nothing happened” and we believe her. What should we do?
Your daughter did the right thing by being honest with you and confessing her mistake. Assuming she is telling you the truth when she says that “nothing happened,” she and her boyfriend showed self-control when they could have easily taken advantage of the situation.
You ask if you should show her mercy in this situation--of course you should. There should be consequences for breaking the rules and violating your trust, but forbidding her from ever seeing her boyfriend again is NOT the answer.
That type of punitive action is sure to push her away and create a reason for her to rebel—the very thing you say you don’t want to do.
I’d suggest you sit down with your daughter, her boyfriend, and his parents and discuss what happened. Set up some specific guidelines and boundaries for their relationship moving forward. These might include no unsupervised dates, no time spent alone together in homes or vehicles, and a commitment to pursue sexual purity.
Also, let me recommend a great book that you and your husband can read with your daughter and her boyfriend. It’s called “Pure Excitement: A Radical Righteous Approach to Sex, Love and Dating.” The author is Joe White.
Thanks for writing Darlene. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click on the “Questions” tab on the Culture Connection page.