AIBU to "hold her prisoner" for the next 2 or 3 years?(63 Posts)
Hi all, I have name changed for this but I am a regular reader and occasional poster on the forums, and am in desperate need of some advice and perspective here! I have posted in AIBU for traffic and also because I really want some no holds barred advice.
I don't want to drip feed but if I tell the whole story here this could go on for pages, so will stick to the basics as best I can.
My daughter is 13 years old, in year 9 at school (the youngest in the year). She is a lovely girl, usual teenage attitude of course but has always behaved impeccably at school and got excellent grades. She has a small close group of friends, girls and boys. Her father and me have been divorced for a few years and are both in new relationships; my partner and I have a 6 month old together but can't currently live together as his older son has serious behaviour problems. I also have a 7 year old son to my ex-husband. Eldest and middle child fight as they do, but eldest adores him and the baby.
We had some issues in the summer with self-harm; she was being bullied at school - initially she was giving as good as she got but I think it all got out of hand and she couldn't handle it. Normally she would have come to me about it but I had a very difficult pregnancy and she didn't want to "bother" me apparently (bless her). I was in regular touch with the school and they (and she) have reassured me that the issue has been resolved. I also had CAMHS involved due to the self-harm and a threat she'd made about suicide; they concluded that she was "o.k." after a couple of counselling sessions. I see her walking round with not much on and I am confident that the self-harm has stopped (for now at least).
She has had a boyfriend since Year 7, coming on 2 years now; this wasn't something I encouraged but initially it was more of a friendship really; he's part of the same friendship group as my daughter and they're in the same year at school. However, I was shocked to learn (by checking her phone messages one day due to a gut feeling that something just wasn't right and a previous incident where she and her friend had been on a social media app that she is not allowed on) that things between them have developed to a sexual level. In fact, "shocked" is an understatement! She is adamant that they have not actually done the deed, despite the texts suggesting that they have. I reacted pretty badly tbh; I really had a go at her and made her take a pregnancy test (negative thankfully). The texts suggested that this had happened the day before so I said we were going to get the morning after pill, however the doctor wouldn't give her it as she kept denying that anything had actually happened, claiming that he just "touched" her with his penis?! She said she wouldn't take it and we couldn't make her. I still don't know how much of what was written was fantasy and how much was real (she has always had a hell of an imagination). The texts weren't massively explicit, but way too much for 13 year olds imho!
Right now she is grounded - not as in, she has to stay in her room, just that she can't go out except to school and has to come straight home (she has done so for the last couple of weeks). Her friends are allowed to come round, but at the moment, the boyfriend is not (I know it's silly but I really want to slap him). She is also not going to be left in the house on her own, and I have tightened up the rules on phone, ipod, etc. - they have to be left on the landing every night during the week (they were talking and texting into the early hours as it turns out).
The issue with me isn't so much that she has sex; although I think 13 is way too young I am aware that this is quite commonplace these days (it wasn't unheard of in the 90s when I was a teen). I have always brought her up to value herself and taught her that sex is a wonderful thing within the confines of a loving relationship. I'm certainly not a prude; I'm only 34 myself and I didn't wait until I was 16 to have sex (was 15). She does say that she loves this boy and he says the same to her (so to her mind she is within the confines of a loving relationship...) He's certainly not the school stud; if anything he's a bit geeky tbh! I tried to speak to his mother about it but she's very laidback about it all; both his parents work and when they're not working they're in the pub, so he is a bit of a latchkey kid (it was at his house that all this went on; in mine they are only allowed in communal areas). The main worry for me is that she could get pregnant (I know STI's are also a risk but with them both being virgins this isn't such an issue). I have tried to talk to her about contraception and how much a pregnancy (or abortion) could mess up her life at such a young age. I've bought her a book about sex aimed at her age (I was shocked at the content, since when did 13 year olds need to know about fisting and golden showers?) I feel like I'm massively up against it with the school as well; they told the girls that if they do get pregnant that they can have an abortion without their parents being told (I was shocked to discover this is true).
I am also surprised at how well she has taken the "grounding". Initially I got all the threats, e.g. if she couldn't see him she would cut herself (even going to the effort of leaving scissors, nail file, pencil sharpener blade down the side of the bed where she knows I check after the earlier self-harm issue). However over the last few days I have noticed he is texting her constantly (her phone is always beeping), but she doesn't always reply to him. Had a sneaky look the other day and she had messaged him saying that she was soaked in blood and there was blood all over the bed sheet; well I checked her bed and there wasn't even a spot of blood! He sends her similar messages! She also left a "diary" note down there (knowing I would read it out of worry) saying that she wanted to take a load of tablets and die, or just might move to her friend's house, "just until Christmas"! Also saying that I had slapped her round the face (I hadn't! I didn't even raise my voice!) I have mentioned nothing about the scissors etc. (as have seen no physical signs of cutting) or the note. She has been wanting loads of cuddles and affection which I am happy to provide, and hasn't whinged too much, even when she missed a friend's party. My partner thinks that on some level, she might have wanted me to put a stop to it all. I have also read a couple of things she's put on her ipod about thinking she could be a lesbian, and she has been looking at pictures od "pretty 14 year old girls". (I couldn't give a jot if she is a lesbian and she knows this).
I have spoken to a good friend of mine about this; she has an 18 year old daughter and went through all this when she was 14; she is of the view that there's nothing I can do to stop it so had best get her on the pill a.s.a.p. and buy her some condoms. Her 18 year old daughter is still with the boy she lost her virginity to at 14 and says the same. Surprisingly, my dear 70 year old stepmother (who brought me up from 12) says pretty much the same thing. They say I should be grateful that at least this is with a boyfriend and not just some randomer (as my first sexual experience was; I was the last of all my friends to "lose it", got drunk at a party and did it - huge regrets still as it led me into a series of one night stands).
So, am I being unreasonable for keeping her in for
ever the next few months, or should I just accept that times have changed and accept the situation? I am totally lost! I really think that 13 is too young! Yes, physically she is more like 15 (started her periods at just turned 9) but emotionally she is still quite immature in some ways, despite her intellect. I know that I can't let her go anywhere until she is willing to sit down with me and be honest about how far things have gone, and how she feels about it all. My stepmother says that I might not like this but it could be that my daughter does actually want a sexual relationship. Also there isn't the stigma amongst her peer group about it like there was when I was at school - less of being labelled a "slut" and more "high fives" all round
I have been reading 'Get Out of my Life but first take me and Alex into town' by Tony Wolf and Suzanne Franks, great book, and they conclude that parents are deluding themselves if they think they can stop teenagers from having sex if they want to do it. I know as a teen I lied about my whereabouts etc. and I don't doubt my daughter would try to swing the lead. I also don't want to come down too hard and push her away to the point when she won't talk to me; my friend's mother did this to her and she covered up her pregnancy at the age of 15; her mother only found out 4 weeks before the baby was due!
I wasn't expecting to deal with this for a couple of years! HELP!!! (got very long after all, sorry!)
How do you expect your daughter to be able to sit down and talk openly with you when you have made her take a pregnancy test and marched her to the doctor because of some texts on her phone?
You have said yourself some of the texts she sent him were lies (about the blood) so why are you so quick to assume the sex ones are true?
Yes she is way too young, and it doesn't sound like the relationship with this boy is healthy, and not just because of the sex stuff. I can completely understand why you are so worried. But punishing her this harshly and basically embarrassing her for exploring very normal teenage things, is going to do nothing but push her away.
This is a very difficult situation for you and your dd. She's mature physically and feels ready for sex, but emotionally she probably isn't.
Have you pointed out to her that any sexual activity under the age of 16 is an offence? The Law is quite clear about that, (in spite of recent 'advice' given to teachers etc that it's 'normal' for 13 yr olds to be having sex.) Both your dd and her bf could end up in Court if sex occurs.
Thankyou for the honest reply sliceofsoup.
I realise that the 'pregnancy test' thing may have been a bit of an extreme reaction; however the texts that I read did definitely indicate that they had sex, including one she sent him saying "I haven't come on yet but don't think I could be pregnant". Also when I first confronted her about it she said she had, then said she hadn't, then said she wasn't sure, etc. I thought it was best to check, as if I didn't and she was pregnant and didn't face up to it, the consequences could have been much worse and her embarrassment would have been the least of her worries. The "blood" texts came a few days after all this and she had never given me reason to suspect she was lying about anything before.
Me keeping her in is not intended to be a "punishment" and I have explained this to her; I am just trying to prevent her from putting herself into a situation that I don't feel she is emotionally capable of handling. I know that sexual exploration amongst teenagers is normal, I certainly did my own fair share of exploration! And to be honest if she was 15, or even the 15 end of 14, I wouldn't have reacted this way. I know she's developing into a young woman but I feel that 13 is just sooo young to be having full-on PIV sex.
I am willing to take the blame for some of this; I have judged her expected behaviour on how I was behaving at 13 (running round with my friends, being a prat and obsessing over Take That) and also associating her high I.Q. with emotional maturity.
Thankyou for the reply Hatespiders.
I have always told my daughter that the age of consent is 16. I don't know if you have teenagers but to be honest I feel like I'm really up against it; the school have filled them all in on their rights etc. and she knows that as they are both 13 they are regarded as being able to "consent" and that the police, courts, etc. would do nothing. It feels like I'm trying to raise her a certain way and she goes to school and they're told a completely different story. It's all "it's your body, you decide, and oh, by the way, your parents don't have to find out if you go on the pill / take the morning after pill / have an abortion."
Yabvvu and should never had read her texts. IMO you are being very controlling and should just let her live her life. She has been with this boy for 2 years not 2 weeks so they are very close.
You should need the advice of the more reasonable older generation in your family who are clearly trying to tell you to let your DD live her life and make her own mistakes like everyone else.
It is also the "norm" amongst her peer group to have sex at a very young age; there was an incident at another local school recently where two 12 year old girls had been caught in the toilets giving blow jobs to a group of lads. My daughter mentioned this to me (I already knew) and I asked her what she thought; she said she thought it was disgusting but that a lot of the girls at her school thought these girls were "legends"
I can well imagine how you feel 'up against it' Cottagecheese. Modern morality (or lack of it) and peer pressure make parents' struggle to keep their children safe more and more difficult. It's giving young teenagers far too much autonomy and freedom which in my opinion will only lead them into serious problems.
I do feel it's vital to try and stay 'friends' with your dd and keep communication lines open, so she feels able to tell you anything and meet with calm and rational advice.
I have no children, but feel very sympathetic towards you regarding your worry about her. I hope you can influence her to concentrate on her studies and hobbies etc, and put sexual activity aside for another year or two.
Thankyou for your honest reply Norfolk.
It's easy to say "let her live her life" when it's not your child, and when I have read similar threads on here (to be fair about 15, 16 year olds) I have thought the same thing. But she's not 15 or 16; she's barely out of primary school, she has self-harmed in the past and my instinct as her mother is to keep her safe. I know she's growing up and I didn't for one minute think they were holding hands and gazing longingly into each other's eyes, but the most I thought they would have done would have been some light petting and snogging! I am quite laidback about many issues; I was allowed to have my serious boyfriend to stay over when I was 16 and left home at 17 to live with him, and I wouldn't expect to be "controlling" very much about her life at that age. There are many mistakes that I'm willing to let her make, but her getting pregnant at 13 is not the kind of mistake I want her to be making. At the end of the day, I'm her parent, she's my child, and all I want is to protect her as much as I can while I still can.
I don't think you should keep her in, although she needs to speak to someone about her lies not you though as she now wont tell you things due to your reaction about her having sex.
As an ex selfharmer who did not want to die, its for the feeling you get and for attention (for me anyway) so her saying she is doing it to her bf is a shout of attention and the slap is to make him feel bad for her and not like you.
You messed up big time when you demanded she took a test and marched her to the doctors, the chances of her now confiding in your should she need to are slim to none due to knowing how you will react she now needs to find a new person to confide in such as a friends mum / aunty etc. stop checking her phone and un-ground her the more you push the more she will pull away.
I moved out at 15 due to parenting like this straight into a relationship where I was cheated on and beaten because he showed love and did not judge me for sex etc Although Ive turned out ok, married with children please please try to fix your relationship with you daughter but not by being pushy or checking up on her she needs you but more as a friend than a MI5 mum. I still to this day will not share things with certain people due to how they treated me before.
Me keeping her in is not intended to be a "punishment" and I have explained this to her; I am just trying to prevent her from putting herself into a situation that I don't feel she is emotionally capable of handling.
But it is a punishment. And worse than that, if you do not let her figure out what she is and isn't able to handle, when will she ever know? You could just be deferring it a few years, not necessarily preventing it. Are you saying that she isn't able to see friends, go to sleepovers, go to the cinema etc for the next 2 years? Really?
Perhaps the school are trying to take the secrecy and mystique out of sex. The more out of bounds something is, often the more desirable it becomes.
There's a fine balance at this age, between protecting and also giving independence. Neither extreme is healthy.
to add I moved out at 15, had been having sex and self harming for a few years prior
I think you are at risk of alienating your daughter too. I would speak to her about contraception and help her to get on the pill. Talk again about boundaries and how she shouldn't feel pushed into anything she's not ready for.
I would let the boyfriend come round as before, communal areas only and force yourself to be kind to him. Trying to keep them apart will only push them closer together. I would put conditions on her going to his unsupervised though and although she may lie you have to trust her to respect those conditions.
I would make it clear that you don't approve of a sexual relationship but that you would rather she was honest with you and discussed any worries she may have. She may not feel ready herself and welcome you putting boundaries in place.
Thanks again Hatespiders.
You're right; I feel like I'm fighting a battle I just can't win. As I said earlier, I have brought my daughter up with the idea that sex is an enjoyable and wonderful thing, and that it is best when it is with someone you love (or at least like!). It's doubly hard for me as my daughter is the youngest in her entire year group; many of her friends are now 14 and as a family we have all noticed how she has always tried to "keep up" with the older children (that year between 13 and 14 makes a hell of a difference as I recall).
I have no intention of being my daughter's "friend" as such for a few years yet; this can cause a lot of problems in itself. I am her mother first and foremost but I am always "friendly" towards her iyswim. We have always talked about all kinds of mad shit and to be honest she is still talking to me about stuff now, despite being obviously pissed off that I've curtailed her freedom for the time being. She is still being her usual affectionate cuddly self with me, more so in fact.
I think that technology has made a massive difference; when I was at school, if you had a boyfriend at school he'd perhaps walk you home after school, then you'd do your homework, have your tea etc., by which time you'd maybe have an hour to see him on an evening. Then nothing until the next day. Now, even when they're not physically together, there's still the constant texting, etc. which I guess causes them to form an intimate bond much more quickly than we did.
As I said, I'm certainly no prude: I want all my children to have enjoyable, fulfilling (safe) sex lives, just not at such a tender age.
I don't think you are handling this very well. You can't ground her for the next three or four years. And it will just make her feel more rebellious. Under age sex is illegal so I would first make absolutely sure she knows that for a start. And people of 13 should not be having sex IMHO and should not be encouraged to do so either. So make sure she knows that as well.
I would also say that at this point perhaps it would be an idea for YOU to kick start the honest conversation by saying you did over react with the test and the doctors, but that you did it out of love and worry, and that now you have had a chance to think about things, you realise that both of you need to work on communicating better.
Take the heat off her. If she feels like she is the only one in the spotlight and that every word she says will be jumped on and judged, she is going to stay clammed up. Conversations have to be two way.
Thankyou for the replies; trying to keep up with them!
Perhaps you are all right; I really don't want to prevent her from having fun with her friends, I like them, they're a great bunch of kids. I really don't want to completely alienate her either, and I know that a lot of how I've reacted is down to fear as I just love her so. fucking. much. she's such an amazing beautiful person with a bright future ahead of her and I don't want to see her messing it up.
It's hard as well as I am having to make these decisions on my own; I haven't told her dad what's been happening as she does have some pretty major issues with him as it is and I know that if I told him 1) she'd never tell me anything again and 2) he'd completely blow his top and probably go round to the boy's house all guns blazing. My partner thinks a lot of my daughter (they get on great) and he is all ready to, and I quote, "kill the little fucker" (the boy), so not getting much reasonable support there either!
Yes Darquesse, you might be right about the whole "pushing them closer together", the whole Romeo and Juliet thing, I had thought of that myself.
Take some deep breaths and forgive yourself for being shocked and responding with vigour.
You are her mum, you are not obliged to sanction underage sex.
Keep talking to her. Don't apologise. Explain that your response was motivated by concern for her. Arm yourself with some facts about the negative effects of embarking on a sex life at a very young age.
If you are sure she is, or is keen to be, sexually active, ensure she's on the pill and has condoms.
Grounding her is an excellent way forward. She obviously thinks so too. You can't keep her in until she's sixteen but you can negotiate with her where she goes, who with, what is the supervision, how long will she be out etc. Approach this from the angle of 'what would you and I both be comfortable with?' She knows you have a responsibility to look after her, she needs reminding to take this into account.
However, if she intends to have sex, she will. When I was at school, people used to have sex in the cloakrooms at lunchtime.
At the end of the day you can't lock her up for the next 5 years because she has to go to school etc. If she wants to find a place to be with her bf she will, even if it's behind the bike sheds. So, you have two choices:
1. Try to stop her. (In which case she will learn to lie very fluently.)
2. Try to trust her, (In which case she may still lie a bit and she may also decide to trust you a bit.)
Thankyou Viviennemary, I have made it very clear to her that sex underage is illegal, but like I say, they're given the message at school that it's all fine and dandy, as they are in the literature about sex aimed at their age group. I knew it was illegal, as did all my friends. Did it stop us? Nope! In all honesty it just added to the thrill. We just weren't THAT underage.
I have been setting time aside for her on an evening to talk; this is not always easy with a 6 month old who's decided she no longer likes bedtime! I have talked to her about my own experiences as a teenager, good and bad, but to her mind I'm fucking ancient (at 34) and don't have a clue... I'm just hoping that it's all sinking in somewhere!
I have already told her that I did overreact, and that it was only because I was terrified for her. However I have also pointed out that she shouldn't have told me one thing, then another, then another. I know it's common at this age for teenagers to lie but in this situation it really exacerbated it and I've explained that to her.
There is no way that I can condone this behaviour at this age but I have always told her that my love for her is completely unconditional and that I am in no way disappointed in her (except for the lying). I have explained that she may be physically feeling ready for sex, but that she might not be ready for the possible consequences. It's a case of waiting for her brain to catch up to her body! We have talked before about masturbation, or as I have termed it to her, "the greatest love of all", and how this is great for exploring your own likes and dislikes and also at releasing any pent-up sexual frustration (she denies that she does; at her age I was doing it that much I'm surprised I can still see!).
BTW, the thread title was a little tongue-in-cheek; I know there's no way I can ground her for the next 2 or 3 years, nor would I (though it is tempting right now!) And the "keeping her prisoner" bit was because this is what my stepmother jokingly termed the grounding.
OP having just read your post re the 12 year old girls in the toilets, I am now not surprised you feel the way you do. So now I don't think yabu at all. I would actually feel quite worried and sick to my stomach like you.
However be grateful she has a long term boyfriend so hopefully she won't be coerced and taken advantage of like those 2 girls. He will hopefully act as a shield to all that so try not to push him away.
I hope to god my DD has a decent long term BF so she won't get drawn into unsavoury situations.
Your daughter is vulnerable and you are looking out for her as you know her best of all.
I had no intention of locking her up for 5 years Haffdonga , once she's 16 her sex life is of her own concern and really none of my business. I had a fulfilling sex life in a loving relationship at 16, I couldn't get enough of it to be honest! (chance would be a fine thing these days with 4 kids between us...)
Bloody hell HumblePieMonster, that's shocking about the cloakrooms! I was a cloakroom monitor at school and there was definitely none of that going on! To be honest, the keeping her in on an evening is not really a concern for me with regards to her missing out on her friends; with it being dark nights I'd prefer she wasn't just "hanging about", and they are welcome to come to our house or even sit in the garden if they like. And she is at her dad's in another town miles away 2 weekends out of 3 so no worries about seeing the boy then. I'm thinking more of the times she is at home on a weekend: not much fun for her playing Minecraft with her little brother while her friends are going to the cinema, swimming, etc. It would be a lot easier if I could get the boy's parents on side; they are pleasant enough but as I say they are not even bothered (the double standard still runs strong in that family).
Do you think the text to her bf about blood was intended as a reference to self-harm? It sounds from your other post about her texts that earlier she had been trying to use getting her period as reassurance to him of lack of pregnancy, did her period start then?
Thankyou Norfolk, I understood your initial reaction as as I say, I have thought similar things when reading threads like this.
I really can't imagine that my daughter would put herself into a situation like that; in her group it's all about "having a boyfriend" not "sleeping around". I was, shall we say, an unfortunate looking child so no boys were interested in me at 13! However, at 15, I shot up, slimmed down, and looking back, got a bit gorgeous (though I didn't think so then) and lost my virginity to the first boy (well, he was actually a man) who took much interest (though there had been some fumblings
in the dark with boys my own age before then).
The whole "boyfriend as a shield" thing occurred to me too; although I had a brief period of promiscuity after losing my virginity, I then met my first serious boyfriend at 16 who I was with for over 3 years. This meant that while many of my friends were still having one night stands I was in a monogamous relationship.
From what you said in your post Norfolk it sounds like your daughter is not in the teen years yet. I never thought for a second I would have these issues with my daughter; she has always been so sensible and well-behaved; it's like they go up the stairs one day as your babies and come down the next as someone you're not quite sure you know anymore the next! Gotta love them though
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