What should a parent do when they discover things about their teenager

abcdefg asks: How do I deal with teenage relationships, considering the fact that I know about it and my daughter doesn’t know I know about it, since I secretly check her phone when she is at school? I also speak to the so-called boyfriend’s mum, but we have kept it low-key.

Hi abcdefg –


It’s a funny thing.  I’ve written so many responses to teenagers who are in danger of getting in trouble with their parents.  But you’re the first case where I’ve seen a parent who’s really in danger of getting in trouble with the teenager!  I certainly understand your concerns, and why you’ve done what you’ve done, but abcdefg, if your daughter discovers this, she’s going to raise some serious H!


Your biggest problem is inherent in your question:  You want to know how to deal with your daughter’s relationship.  But the only way for you to let her know that you know about it is to let on that you’ve been checking her phone.  And worse, far worse to a teenage girl’s eye, you’ve been talking with her boyfriend’s mother behind her back!


So I’m guessing that this is kind of the norm for your household.  Lots of secret-keeping, and a fair amount of sneaking.  This might have worked well when your daughter was a kid, but now there’s a good chance that she’s better at it than you are!  (Is it possible that she even knows you’ve looked at the phone, or even about you writing me?!)


So here’s my suggestion:  Change the Rules.  Change the whole dynamic of your home.  Make a clean confession to her: Apologize, and tell her that you’ve looked at her phone, that you’ve talked with his mum, and that you’ve realized that this little girl whose diapers you used to change is now a young woman, and deserves to be treated as such.  That you want to have a more adult, straightforward relationship with her.  That you want to be the mum who she can come to with questions about all the issues that affect teen girls – from easy stuff like fashion and makeup to really tough issues like intoxicants, peers, and – yes – boys.  And in return for her openness, you promise to not snoop on her anymore.  You encourage her to get a password on her phone (always a good idea anyway, so other kids won’t look at her stuff – or worse, use her phone without her knowing!), you don’t have any contact with her boyfriend’s mum without telling your daughter about it… and best of all, share some secrets of yours with her!  Are you in a relationship now, with her father or someone else?  Talk with her about it.  And if you’re currently not in a relationship, talk with her about the ones you’ve had – what you think you did right and wrong, what you wish you could change and what you’re happiest about (including, of course, that a relationship of yours produced her!).


In other words, my friend, I’m saying to change everything!  I can’t resist one last pun – what I want is for you to go from being such an Alpha to creating a relationship with your daughter as fun and great as that old Jackson 5 song: “ABC, easy as 123, or simple as Do-Re-Mi, ABC, 123 – baby you and me girl!”


Best of luck!



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crazycatlady - November 9, 2011 Reply


As a grown woman whose mother was very secretive about her OWN life when I was a teenager, I used to really resent how she’d go out of her way to read my journals, but if I asked her something about her teenage years, she wouldn’t talk about it.

Fortunately, she eventually wisened up and followed Shirelle’s advice there. She did reveal a few secrets – one of which was very scary – and I finally understood why she was reluctant to say anything.

We now have an excellent relationship and I couldn’t imagine going to anyone else for all my questions about life (and yes, even years later, I still have them!)

KayceeSimone - November 9, 2011 Reply

Hi there.
I read yor post and do you have an issue with your daughter dating this boy? If you do maybe talk to her about it. I don’t have a strong relationship with my mother at all but there is a lot of trust between us. When I start dating a guy I usually tell my mum and she meets the buy and his family and we are all really close. Just an idea. Is there a reason why you shouldn’t trust her? You may find that when giving her a little freedom she wont breakour trust as I haven’t with my mum.

Sometimes when I choose not to tell my mum things is because I don’t feel close to her or I am afraid of her reaction. Being a teen its scarey to confess to your parents becuse you don’t want to damage their view of you. As you would have known from you teen years. Just be straight up with her. Maybe set a few guidelines or boundaries.

Hope this helps

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