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Why do I care so much about teenage daughter's complicated relationships?

(41 Posts)
CaliforniaDreams Tue 15-Sep-09 11:30:46

Hi, sorry this is a long post but I'm new to teenage traumas and would really appreciate some advice from someone who's been there before!

My DD has just turned 16, the eldest (hence we've not been there before!) and has recently blossomed into an attractive young woman after being a late developer (pds started only last summer!) She is slim, small, funny, talented and popular with her friends of both sexes and with no shortage of potential dates. However, apart from one brief "dalliance" last year which lasted a couple of months, and which she admitted later was a disaster (her words!), she has never dated in the traditional sense.

There is however one boy in her circle of friends (let's call him Jason) whom she has known for about two years and who I have long suspected has been very keen on her. Over the last six months there has been loads of flirting and horseplay, more than in the average platonic relationship at any rate! My conclusion was that she likes him a lot but is not ready for a relationship yet. As for Jason, his feelings were confirmed recently by his mum, while we were having a chat at an event attended by both our children. She volunteered the information as clearly wanted to find out more from me, and she told me that he had returned home angry and jealous one evening when DD had been asked out by another lad whom they both know, right in front of him! I knew what she meant because I had been there at the time. Unfortunately he had left thinking that DD and this other lad were an item. I was able to confirm to his mum that this was not the case, but by then he had already made a serious decision about accepting a place on a university course he was unsure about, partially based on his assumption that she was now with somebody else.

That was a few weeks ago and Jason recently had a leaving party at his house, with the guests camping out in the garden. DD had not been feeling well and retired early to her tent. What shocks me though is that Jason spent the entire evening very publicly "with" another girl (I've seen the pictures!) - a friend of DDs who had come to the party with another boy. I thought something was strange when I phoned Jason's mum about an unconnected matter the following day and she didn't seem keen to talk to me - perhaps she now regrets confiding in me about her son when he now seems to have shifted his attention in such a fickle way. However DD does not seem in the least bothered and wants both Jason and her friend to come to our house this weekend for a final evening of "chilling" before Jason sets off for uni next week. Trouble is, after the way Jason has been with DD, I don't think I could stomach seeing him all over another girl, especially at our house. I can't understand why I should care about this so much - a weird kind of "proxy" jealousy - but perhaps it's just that I want some kind of reassurance that DD is normal, and not having issues with her sexuality (is she perhaps gay?) or maybe inwardly seething about the situation and becoming seriously depressed about it - especially as the girl concerned goes to her school. I've tried talking to her but just get the brush-off. I'm hoping some experienced MNetter will come on here and tell me to back off and leave them to it, but she is so immature in many ways and I'm afraid she will get badly hurt somewhere along the line.

DailyMailNameChanger Tue 15-Sep-09 11:35:49

DD is normal, she may or may not be gay that will only become clear when she is ready for it to but I can see no reason here why you would jump to that conclusion.

You are overly involved, it is normal to care but not normal to be talking to other parents about the ins and outs of the love interests of your child!

At this age it can be very fickle and relationships can happen just to make someone feel better at the time and so on. I ti is just one of those things and, if your dd is happy, you have no real business having more than a passing opinion on it!

DailyMailNameChanger Tue 15-Sep-09 11:38:07

Sorry, that sounds short, I was trying to be quick!

Your dd is at the age now where sh ewill be leaving home, it is perfectly ok to worry about the relationships she is/is not having, to worry about the people she is with, about her reasons, her needs, her safety and so on but these things have to be internalised to a greater or lesser degree if you do not want to be overly controlling or a bit of a nag!

Seriously, if your dd is happy you should be too!

ginnny Tue 15-Sep-09 11:40:18

Back off and leave them to it!!
You've answered your own question there grin. If she's not bothered about him and the other girl why should you be?
IME teenagers are fickle, "totally in love" one minute and "so not bothered" the next! I would have been worried if she'd started seeing 'Jason' seriously and he'd given up his place at uni for her, but as things stand he'll go off to uni and she'll probably start dating when she's ready.
As for her being gay - does anything else make you question her sexuality or is it just this situation? From what you say She sounds like a perfectly normal healthy teenage girl to me.

CaliforniaDreams Tue 15-Sep-09 11:44:31

Thanks for the reassurance. Btw I didn't approach Jason's mum - she came to me! (Though I won't pretend I didn't appreciate the information!) She even thinks the lad who riled him by asking her out in front of him will be back to try again once J is safely out of the way!

Regarding the "gay" issue - it's not a conclusion as such, I just can't understand why she seems so reluctant to go out with boys, perhaps she feels you have to be madly in love before even considering it? At any rate, in her innocence she clearly didn't realize the effect she was having on Jason...perhaps we'll all get our head straight after he's been gone for a few weeks...

CaliforniaDreams Tue 15-Sep-09 11:47:27

...also she had a sleepover recently with her two best friends (female) and was joking about being a lesbian...she brought the topic up, not me!

duelingfanjo Tue 15-Sep-09 11:52:35

"However DD does not seem in the least bothered "

Isn't that great?

CaliforniaDreams Tue 15-Sep-09 11:58:06

It's the word "seems" that's important here...perhaps she is just putting on a brave face? I could have answered that question myself a couple of years ago, but not any more.

ginnny Tue 15-Sep-09 12:32:32

I actually think its nice to find a teenage girl of 16 who isn't rushing to go out with boys. My dsd has been boy crazy since about 13 and she is far too grown up for her age at times and has got herself into some tricky situations because of it.
Your dd sounds lovely and innocent - make the most of it while she is like this.

CaliforniaDreams Tue 15-Sep-09 12:50:46

You know, Ginnny - I think you could be right in some ways. We are indeed lucky that she has not been too keen to get involved with anyone, in fact I think the only reason she had a boyfriend briefly last year was to try "dating" rather than because she was attracted to the individual involved. What worries me is that DD is so innocent that I wonder whether she might have been confused about her feelings for J. She will tolerate ragging from her friends and younger siblings about other "suitors" (for want of a better word) but gets quite defensive when there is any suggestion that J might want to be more than just a friend. They are both in a team in a voluntary organization (sorry can't be more specific) that meets every weekend and not having him there will perhaps hit home hard in a couple of weeks.

Anyway, do I let the three of them come back here at the weekend, as DD has asked? Perhaps DH and I should leave them to it and go down the pub? Or should we insist they meet up somewhere else? And why on earth should this lad want to see them both at the same time...talk about having your cake and eating it! shock

Leeka Tue 15-Sep-09 13:05:04

I'm not surprised she's telling you it's all fine and that she's not bothered - I bet what she means is "Mum, butt out!", in a nice way. Why are you expecting her to share all these thoughts and feelings about different boys with you? That's what her mates are for. I'd leave her to it, let her invite who she wants, and accept that you have to let go of your little girl a bit when she gets to this age.

Sorry just re-read and that sounds a bit mean, didn't intend that.

potplant Tue 15-Sep-09 13:14:05

She's the teenager not you. You can't get involved in all the 'he said, she said' stuff.

Perhaps having her mother's seal of approval on a potential bf has put her right off grin

CaliforniaDreams Tue 15-Sep-09 13:52:34

Yep - you're probably right - leave 'em to it and let them make their own mistakes...

cory Tue 15-Sep-09 20:18:50

Now take a deep breath and repeat to yourself: it is perfectly normal not to be in a relationship when you are only just 16. A sizeable proportion of the population are still virgins when they hit 20. Some of them do not even date. It is not a compulsory part of the curriculum.

Your dd is under absolutely no obligation to take a sexual interest in Jason simply because he takes an interest in her. Perhaps he just doesn't turn her on. We can't be attracted to every single man on the planet, you know. She will get plenty of other opportunities.

abouteve Tue 15-Sep-09 20:37:51

You are over analyzing this. I would invite whom she wants to to the party and go down the pub, as long as you can trust them to be left to it.

As Cory said it's not everyone who wants to date at 16. She will in her own time.

As for worrying if she is gay, some girls are grin, chances are your DD isn't and if she is she will let you know in her own good time.

CaliforniaDreams Wed 16-Sep-09 01:15:49

OK quick update - but first need to clarify, abouteve - it was never going to be a party at our house, just the three of them - which just seemed a bit weird. And she doesn't want to do it now anyway, but will be seeing Jason on Sunday - the day before he leaves. And Cory, my point is that I don't think she knew herself what she felt for Jason, but I suspect the experience might have been enlightening for her... When I posted this morning that she didn't seem bothered, I didn't realize that she hadn't yet seen the pictures of the party. I had, though - that was how I knew what went on. She certainly seems bothered now and has been sitting in her room at her computer close to tears all evening.

DH and I had a chat this evening about it and will be watching things closely. She knows that we know, and that we're there for her if she needs us. I suppose that's all we can do.

Anyway thanks for all your suggestions. I understand that it seems we are taking too close an interest but nobody wants to see their child hurt. And this is a 16 year old who is very immature emotionally, therefore very vulnerable.

AnAuntieNotAMum Wed 16-Sep-09 01:53:23

"DH and I had a chat this evening about it and will be watching things closely".

If she gets that idea she'll probably never bring a relationship near the house!

You sound seriously over involved in this. Is this about something you went through when you were a teen?

Is there a person in this world who has never experienced some hurt when it comes to love and relationships? Especially as a teen.

cory Wed 16-Sep-09 08:44:10

ok, she may be in tears, she may have found out that she cared after all

or she may not know what she feels for Jason

or alternatively she may not want him sexually but still feel jealous (will I lose my best friend?)

any of those, or a combo, is possible

but it is her life, not yours and you do seem to be taking an unhealthy interest in this

why are you so keen on her taking up with this Jason rather than any of the million other young men around? is he rich?

even if she is in love with him now, that would be no guarantee that she still would be in 3 months time

do not be tempted to play Cupid with someone this young

you seem very eager to have her settled/have a steady boyfriend/know all there is to know about her sexuality at a very young age

why not give her the next 10 years to work these things out in?

cory Wed 16-Sep-09 08:45:28

if she is, as you say, immature, then it probably is a good thing that she seems to want to take things slowly; immature girls who feel compelled to prove something about their sexuality tend to end up in a lot of trouble

CaliforniaDreams Wed 16-Sep-09 09:57:18

I'm wondering whether the general opinion would be different if DD were a few years younger, say 13? I'm getting the sense that she ought to be left to it as she is 16 after all. But she actually said to me recently in one of her more open moments that she is "hopeless at relationships" - how on earth do I reassure her? She certainly is in no hurry to rush into anything and that is indeed a good thing, and I'm sure in three months time this will all have sorted itself out. But things are difficult at the moment because of the impending change, the departure of a good friend who may or may not be anything more.

As far as our involvement as parents is concerned, please be assured that we are leaving them to it. All I am doing by posting on here is to try to get some insights from more experienced parents of teens...which I have done and appreciate.

SolidGoldBrass Wed 16-Sep-09 10:01:37

There is nothing you can do apart from let her know you are there when/if she needs to talk to you. Anything else is meddling, projecting your own issues, and liable to cause far more problems than it solves.

abouteve Wed 16-Sep-09 10:05:29

I am a bit confused re-reading your post, do you want her to decide to start something off with Jason before he leaves or are you worried that this will happen and she will be left feeling hurt.

Sounds like Jason is happy to move on with girls who show an interest which is healthy at this age.

I do think your DD will make up her own mind what she wants out of her friendship with J and if they are close then something might happen in the future when they are both ready.

BonsoirAnna Wed 16-Sep-09 10:08:08

Please back off. Let your DD get on with her own life. Find something else of your own to be interested in.

DailyMailNameChanger Wed 16-Sep-09 10:11:45

The thing is she is not 13, she is 16. You may like to think of her in this way but it is not the truth of it and she will, eventually, come to resent being treated that way.

Yes she has been close to tears, yes she may suddenly have a new understanding of Jason and their relationship but this is something she has to go through, you can be there for her but you cannot do it for her.

I have not yet met a teen who has not shed a few tears over a relationship or lack of relationship, all the heartbreak and drama is a process, one they work through in order to become good at relationships. It is tough, especially as a parent on the sidelines but it is necessary.

Back off, take her cups of tea, give her shoulder a squeeze, a quick hug when she seems willing - even tell her you are there if she needs it but let her deal with it all her way. As SGB says, anything else is meddling.

I am intrigued to know how you got to see these photos before your dd though?

ginnny Wed 16-Sep-09 10:19:25

All 16 year olds are hopeless at relationships! (I still am now and I'm 39 grin)
Unfortunately the only way to learn is by your mistakes and she will make bad decisions and get hurt as she grows up.
Your job is just to be there, like DMNC says, with tea and sympathy and no judgements or interrogation.
It is hard - I'm glad I've got boys, although I'm sure they will bring their own problems when they get to their teens.

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