I’ve been divorced for four years, sharing custody of our two kids.
The eldest is a girl, 15, who had sunk into a depression over our split.
It took a couple of years to get her self-esteem back.
She’s currently doing well at school and has blossomed into a very attractive teenager.
Her mother has a new boyfriend who’s divorced with three kids. The eldest is a boy, 16.
I’ve become aware that he and my daughter are constantly texting. They’re being secretive about it. But I saw her phone and there’s a lot of flirting.
I called my ex-wife and her first response was that anything about her and her boyfriend was none of my business.
I’m not trying to interfere in my ex’s relationship… I’m long over her.
But I’m sure this isn’t healthy for my daughter, who’s only recently got her focus back.
Am I wrong in thinking these two teenagers may be getting into a situation that won’t end well?
You’re not wrong, you’re worried.
Teenagers haven’t the experience or maturity to think ahead about the possible consequences of developing a relationship within this complex “family” scene.
You do have that sense (acutely) so it’d be wise, not intrusive, for you and your ex to talk this out.
So long as you’re not telling her how to conduct her own relationship, your daughter’s well being is both your business.
Be clear: The girl is still vulnerable after her reaction to the divorce.
It’s possible they’ll get more involved for a while, even intimately. But a rejection or an actual break-up could send her back into depression.
If her mother’s relationship with his father ends, that too could affect both teenagers and their connection.
Or, with the opposite result, this boy could become her stepbrother.
Try to have this conversation with your ex in a calm, non-blaming way, with the focus only on your daughter,
If that’s not possible, suggest getting an objective opinion from a professional counselor.
Meanwhile, be very supportive to your daughter about her studies and try to also get her involved in arts and sports activities that keep her busy.
Mention that she needn’t be secretive about any friendships.
Be prepared for when, and if, this one warrants your explaining to her the potential for her getting badly hurt.
I’m a boy, 13, questioning my sexuality, but I don't know if I am really sure I’m questioning it.
I don't know how to come out to my family and friends.
Please tell me what to do.
You’re likely scared. The whole idea of telling others that you are unsure, makes you wonder if they’ll accept or reject you based on your sexual identity.
At 13, you have many influences affecting what you think and feel, many emotions, many fears. Your idea of sexual identity may not yet be clear.
You don’t have to come out if you’re not ready.
Or, if you believe your parents love you (most likely), and that they’re not close-minded, then talking to them about your confusion and why you have it, may be far easier and helpful than you think.
Another option is to talk to your family doctor if you have a relationship where you can discuss things.
Meanwhile, an anonymous and confidential call to KidsHelpPhone (also for teens) – 1-800-668-6868 – or any other teenagers’ distress line which you can find through a Google search – is a way to talk openly and safely about what’s on your mind and also get information on sexuality.
FEEDBACK Regarding the husband whose wife makes excuses to not join his parents’ family outings (June 28):
Reader –“You seem surprised that your spouse doesn’t like to spend all her free time with your parents.
“It may be something you want to do, but it doesn’t follow that she’d always want to take these days trips with your parents.
“Families do not have to be joined at the hip all the time. There are many other things to do as a single family, as a couple, or as individuals.
“She has every right to choose not to go. Her well-being obviously depends on her having some down time to herself and that shouldn’t be disparaged.
“You need to learn that your relationship with your parents should be secondary to that with your wife.
“How about suggesting that your parents take the kids for a weekend so that the two of you can take a weekend trip together?”
Tip of the day:
A vulnerable teenager needs parents’ guidance to avoid too-complex relationships.