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AIBU?

Did I give her the right advice? Should I have told her what she wanted to hear?

30 replies

JMSA · 06/01/2024 12:37

I like to think of myself as an emotionally intelligent person. I am always there to listen if my daughters have an issue. I'll generally respond in the way that they need at that time; so if they need a vent, I'll listen and not necessarily talk too much. I generally help them reach their own resolve, rather than wade in to solve their own problems!
My 17 year old has just come to ask my advice about something. This doesn't happen very often, so I was really happy to listen and give my opinion (which she asked for).

She ended up flouncing out, because I am supportive but won't just tell them what they want to hear. Confused
She is 17 1/2 and has been seeing her (first, steady) boyfriend for 7 or 8 months. Largely it's a loving, happy, supportive, healthy relationship. He's socially confident (until recently, boarded at private school) and she's quiet, anxious and a bit insecure. As far as I can make out, he tries his best to reassure. He seems trustworthy, loyal, respectful and honest.
Recently he has been communicating a lot with a fellow boarder from school, who now lives overseas. I think because of how my daughter can be, he downplayed the closeness and communication. My daughter has found out that they have been messaging each other a LOT, more than she feels comfortable with. She does trust him though.
I gently pointed out that if there's nothing untoward going on, perhaps he feels it necessary to cover things up (to protect her feelings). I said that the sneakiness is the bigger problem than his friendship with this girl, and that this is the crux of the issue. He's a non-toxic person who has girls as friends. This same thing could keep happening again, and it's important that my daughter works on her reaction to that.

She is adamant that she has no problem with him having girls as friends, but she sees him getting closer to this girl and there is nothing she can do about it.

I feel awful now, like I didn't really have her back. But I don't think a reactive response like 'oh yeah, he absolutely shouldn't be messaging her' is going to help anyone.

In my view, trust is important in a relationship until our partner gives us reason not to trust.

AIBU?

OP posts:
Octavia64 · 06/01/2024 12:40

I have a DD now at uni.

Even when she asks for my opinion she doesn't want it.

I'd go with the hmm that sounds difficult every time.

JMSA · 06/01/2024 12:41

Octavia64 · 06/01/2024 12:40

I have a DD now at uni.

Even when she asks for my opinion she doesn't want it.

I'd go with the hmm that sounds difficult every time.

Yes, probably the better approach Grin

OP posts:
TyneTeas · 06/01/2024 12:43

Hit and miss, but in addition to the 'that sounds difficult', I sometimes add on a tale, you know that reminds me of a time when one of my friends.....

LenaLamont · 06/01/2024 12:44

Yeah, I fall into this trap all the time. I'm a dunce, I don't learn. I answer what she asks (and god, she's persistent!) when I should murmur appropriate noises.

I need this tattooed on my hand. "That sounds a lot to deal with" etc

BoohooWoohoo · 06/01/2024 12:44

Sounds like she wanted to vent rather than you provide a solution. Asking her questions like a therapist - “what are you going to do ?” “I’m sorry to hear that” was probably what she was after.

Your advice isn’t unreasonable btw

JMSA · 06/01/2024 12:46

Thanks everyone - really appreciate it.
I'm a single parent and sometimes use MN as a sounding board, like you'd do with a partner!

OP posts:
Weightlossworry · 06/01/2024 12:48

I'd ask 'How has that left you feeling?' and 'It sounds very difficult to go through those emotions'. Or 'Is there anything you'd like to talk through with him?' and 'What do you think is reasonable to ask of him?'. She's not necessarily wrong and she can't turn trust on and off, she can only make a decision to manage her emotions if her fears seem unfounded from a rational perspective. Some people will never be comfortable with their partner having close friends of the opposite sex and that's ok.

IncompleteSenten · 06/01/2024 12:49

I think you missed an opportunity to teach your daughter that it's ok to set her own boundaries and that if there is something that is unacceptable to her - that's ok! She can communicate that in an assertive and non manipulative way.

Far too many women agonise over shit like this. Feeling deeply unhappy, feeling something is off, but feeling like they aren't allowed to say ok you know what, this isn't something that makes me happy so we should go our separate ways.

Also, you only need to read on here how many totally innocent friendships actually turn out to be Mr Good Guy Friend To Everyone It's Totally Innocent Honest going balls deep in another woman.

Don't teach her to suppress her instincts or accept behaviours that make her unhappy.

If it's a problem for her - it's a problem.

She can't control who he is friends with but she can control whether that's a relationship she wants to be in.

Saggypants · 06/01/2024 12:52

Hm I'm not sure your advice was that great TBH. Her gut is telling her something is off. I think it would have been better to help her explore her feelings and decide her own plan of action using the sort of questions described above, rather than dismissing her concerns as insecurity. I mean, you might be right, but you might be very wrong too.

Saggypants · 06/01/2024 12:53

Ah, I cross posted with @IncompleteSenten who said it a lot better!

RatatouillePie · 06/01/2024 12:55

I'd tell her to put herself in his shoes, and how would she then feel if her GF was getting jealous over her messaging a friend.

Jealousy can put a wedge in many relationships. Females are often better at communicating. FACT. So he will message the female friend more than a male friend. I message my female friend loads but my husband very little as he just doesn't reply!

Life is about taking risks and trusting. She just needs to either trust him or end the relationship and work on her own self esteem. Otherwise her jealousy will ruin her relationship.

JMSA · 06/01/2024 12:56

Saggypants · 06/01/2024 12:52

Hm I'm not sure your advice was that great TBH. Her gut is telling her something is off. I think it would have been better to help her explore her feelings and decide her own plan of action using the sort of questions described above, rather than dismissing her concerns as insecurity. I mean, you might be right, but you might be very wrong too.

Fair point. I did have a chat to her about the importance of gut instinct and how we should listen to it.
She feels instinctively that she trusts him and definitely wants to be in the relationship.
It's a tricky one.

OP posts:
KrisAkabusi · 06/01/2024 12:57

This is Mumsnet. Your advice should have been to through his phone and then LTB whether she finds something or not!

JMSA · 06/01/2024 12:58

IncompleteSenten · 06/01/2024 12:49

I think you missed an opportunity to teach your daughter that it's ok to set her own boundaries and that if there is something that is unacceptable to her - that's ok! She can communicate that in an assertive and non manipulative way.

Far too many women agonise over shit like this. Feeling deeply unhappy, feeling something is off, but feeling like they aren't allowed to say ok you know what, this isn't something that makes me happy so we should go our separate ways.

Also, you only need to read on here how many totally innocent friendships actually turn out to be Mr Good Guy Friend To Everyone It's Totally Innocent Honest going balls deep in another woman.

Don't teach her to suppress her instincts or accept behaviours that make her unhappy.

If it's a problem for her - it's a problem.

She can't control who he is friends with but she can control whether that's a relationship she wants to be in.

Edited

Many thanks Star
Thing is, I KNOW she'll be sad if she drives him away with this. But of course boundary setting is incredibly important. I guess it's about keeping it realistic.

OP posts:
JMSA · 06/01/2024 12:59

KrisAkabusi · 06/01/2024 12:57

This is Mumsnet. Your advice should have been to through his phone and then LTB whether she finds something or not!

Grin
OP posts:
theduchessofspork · 06/01/2024 13:01

She’s better placed than you to know if it’s dodge or not. If it’s not, he shouldn’t be keeping it secret. So it may well be that she’s right not you*.

I think by jumping to assume there is nothing in it and/or her own behaviour has created his, you are jumping to his side rather than being neutral - and also telling her to ignore her I instincts which isn’t great. I also think you can’t apply adult norms to teen relationships - teen boys are pretty highly sexed, after 6 months it’s perfectly possibly he is starting to look elsewhere.

Next time ask her questions that draw out her thoughts and help her to come to a sensible and balanced plan of action, without telling her what to think or do.


(*I say this as someone whose partner has plenty women friends.)

sickbucket67 · 06/01/2024 13:02

Your advice was shite tbh- not surprised she is cross. You basically told her to ignore her gut feeling and that her boundaries don’t matter because he is a nice boy.

Next time you see a thread on here when someone’s DH is sending multiple deep texts to their female colleague and growing closer- I doubt you’d think ‘oh what a lovely non toxic man who has female friends’

Not saying you should have told her to LTB, but she needed confirmation that her feelings were valid and you ignored that.

your update doesn’t make sense. How did you talk to her about her boundaries and instincts mattering if you said he was a non-toxic boy with a female ‘friend’?

the fact that he is being sneaky says it all.

JMSA · 06/01/2024 13:10

sickbucket67 · 06/01/2024 13:02

Your advice was shite tbh- not surprised she is cross. You basically told her to ignore her gut feeling and that her boundaries don’t matter because he is a nice boy.

Next time you see a thread on here when someone’s DH is sending multiple deep texts to their female colleague and growing closer- I doubt you’d think ‘oh what a lovely non toxic man who has female friends’

Not saying you should have told her to LTB, but she needed confirmation that her feelings were valid and you ignored that.

your update doesn’t make sense. How did you talk to her about her boundaries and instincts mattering if you said he was a non-toxic boy with a female ‘friend’?

the fact that he is being sneaky says it all.

I didn't tell her to ignore her gut instinct or that boundaries don't matter.
What I said to her - and what I gave as background on their relationship on this forum - aren't the same.

I think you're right though, in that I didn't handle it well.

OP posts:
CarpetSlipper · 06/01/2024 13:12

You dismissed her feelings. I don’t constantly message my friends. Does he message his other friends all the time? It may be innocent or it may not be but you seem to think the sun shines out his arse and your daughter is in the wrong? I think her feelings are likely to be quite normal and she was probably looking for reassurance.

TeaKitten · 06/01/2024 13:12

Your daughters boyfriend has lied to her and you’ve basically told her it’s her fault for being insecure and she needs to deal with it better and let him do what she wants. She doesn’t often ask you for advice… this is probably why. She’s insecure and anxious, she needs to learn that it’s ok to have boundaries and be annoyed at this guy even if he is great. If she can’t deal with a guy who messages lots of other girls that’s absolutely fine, she is not a problem, they might just not be a good match. Telling her it’s basically her fault he lied is just setting her up to fail in future bad relationships.

Botflymary67 · 06/01/2024 13:16

The trouble with these sorts of interactions is that teenage dc often positively don’t want our advice, and even go to lengths to avoid many ordinary daily interactions, but then when they do, they often spring it on you without warning, when it’s
late at night and you are half asleep, or you are working to a deadline or about to rush out.

So we often respond directly without taking a moment to pause, and generally, no, I don’t think we should be telling them what they want to hear. The problem is couching what you DO want to say diplomatically when you have had 10 seconds notice!

What I am saying is we often stuff up a bit as parents of teens. We’ve all done it. You are obviously a very caring parent or you wouldn’t be posting about it now.

I agree with others who think your reaction possibly could have been a bit more neutral and enquiring and “it’s so hard to tell in these circumstances isn’t it and it’s unsettling to be uncertain “
and “what is your intuition telling you?” and “how does his past behaviour compare to his present behaviour?” And general questions like that. Support her to come to her own conclusions.

But there’s nothing stopping you contacting her now and saying “you know, I want to apologise, I possibly wasn’t as supportive of you earlier as I should have been. You know <x name of bf> better than me. And I trust you to make good decisions. Etc.”

I agree with pp who said women are conditioned not to speak up when they feel something is off. Equally it’s very destructive to relationships to accuse someone of doing something they are not guilty of. So your dd was right to reflect on the matter. So you could praise her for that and tell her that boundaries are not about other people really, but something she gets to decide about and where she gets to draw the line on what she considers acceptable or not.

JMSA · 06/01/2024 13:35

Right, we've just had another chat Grin
I've taken all of your excellent points and approached it a bit differently. I also apologised for before.
She has actually just thanked me so I think we're ok.
Thank you.

OP posts:
Saggypants · 06/01/2024 13:38

Good to hear OP. Nothing worse than being caught on the hop!

JMSA · 06/01/2024 13:39

Saggypants · 06/01/2024 13:38

Good to hear OP. Nothing worse than being caught on the hop!

Thanks. And yes, that was part of it I think!

OP posts:
Mirrorballsocial · 06/01/2024 13:46

I don't actually think your advice was particularly good tbh. I agree with what @IncompleteSenten said.

If she's not happy about it then that's an OK boundary to have. Boundaries are a difficult one and what is reasonable and what is unreasonable or toxic is sometimes nuanced. But I don't think with this ons is particularly unreasonable for her to be uncomfortable with a close female friendship.

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