I recently snooped and read my 17-year-old's text messages after a friend told me she'd seen her drunk and kissing a boy out on the street in our town.
I discovered that she’d had sex with this random boy, and that he choked her and pulled her hair during intercourse.
She didn’t indicate that it was forced, but said it hurt her.
Finding this out has been extremely upsetting.
We’ve always spoken openly about respecting our bodies as well as healthy sexual relationships and boundaries.
I’m not sure what to do. I shouldn’t have violated her phone privacy, but have uncovered something that’s a huge cause for concern and her safety.
Should I talk to her about it? Do I let her know what I know? Or just speak about intimate violence in general, and she’ll know that I know?
A Mother’s Dilemma
At her first realization that you snooped, you can lose her. It’s the go-to No-No among young people, even though many parents surreptitiously do it.
So, if everything you know about this incident came from her text messages, it could be a disaster with her accusing you, crying, and closing down completely.
There are many approaches that parents have tried for similar situations – from hard curfews to heated warnings about sexually-transmitted infections (STI’s) - and there’s no certain agreement over what works.
Since you’ve had a close relationship with your daughter until now, I suggest you try very hard to preserve it with a warm, non-accusing entry into a discussion.
Tell your daughter you’ve noticed her looking distracted. Say that you know she’s at an age when her social life and relationships are very important but also confusing.
You understand that when new things happen, it can be overwhelming and there’s not always time for the things you talked about in the past, like setting boundaries.
Tell her that she’s not to be embarrassed about these things because knowing how to avoid STI’s for example is important for her health now, not just some time way in the future.
Say that you love her, that you, when a teenager, also had to learn how to protect your body, and that you’re available to talk to her any time.
For more back-up on these kinds of conversations (she may not open up as soon as you’d like), consider getting one appointment with a counsellor who specializes in teenagers, to ask about how best to keep a mother-daughter dialogue ongoing.
My husband of 12 years was a “happy drinker” early on… the one with the funny comments and crazy pranks to pull on friends.
He always wanted to keep going, drink more, until he fell across the couch or bed when home.
Now, he just drinks, starting right after work, and then coming home moody and silent during dinner, still drinking till falling asleep. I used to love him but haven’t for several years. What should I do?
Frustrated and Miserable
You’re both suffering from his alcohol use disorder, which includes physical/psychological dependence.
Research the disorder and take positive steps: Join an Al-Anon group to learn how others living with alcoholics have coped or improved their situation.
Approach your husband with an offer of support towards a better (healthier/happier) life.
Encourage him to join Alcoholics’ Anonymous and/or see an addiction counsellor. If he’s not ready, consider a well-planned intervention, which involves consequences if he won’t try to stop drinking (an addiction counselor can advise).
FEEDBACK Regarding the husband who lets his sister bully and exclude his wife and her son from a previous marriage (September 18):
Reader #1 – “Her husband, besides being a coward, could be one of those who believe that blood is thicker than water and therefore will never back up their own wives against their blood relatives, including their children.
“I married one and my father-in-law was like that too.”
Reader #2 – “I, too, was treated like this when with my ex-husband and I no longer have any thing to do with him or his family.
“I still end up seeing him often and I do speak to him but never have a real conversation with him.
“I forgive him but I never want anything to do with him again.”
Ellie – Once people free themselves from being disrespected and unsupported – whether it’s by speaking up strongly or separating from the person/ family involved – self-confidence returns.
Tip of the day:
Finding serious alarms in teenagers’ private texts, calls for parental action that’s chosen thoughtfully.