My child is experimenting with a boy.

“Dear Ignacio, I was in my 13 year old daughter's room and took a peek at her #journal. I know I shouldn't have, but I read that she is #experimenting with a boy from school. I haven't confronted her yet, because I don't want her to know that I read her journal. But I also can't just do nothing. Please help!”

The first matter here is that you have disrespected your daughter’s right to #privacy. You are human and we all make mistakes. Parent’s curiosity about their children’s lives and well-being can sometimes take over their better #judgment. The good news is that this is a great opportunity for you to demonstrate to your daughter how to properly #apologize and engage in a process of #accountability.

The priority in our relationship with children is building and maintaining #trust through #honesty, #vulnerability, and #transparency. I highly encourage you to tell your daughter the truth about what you did, offer a genuine apology, ask her how she feels and what you can do to make amends, and finally make a commitment to yourself and her to respect her privacy.

If you believe there is not already a foundation of trust with your daughter, you may choose to temporarily not come clean and instead begin having general conversations about #bodies, #consent, communication skills, and #sexuality. This can serve as a short-term solution and a way of getting the conversation started by providing her with the resources that she needs. If you haven’t already, it is good to establish a routine of checking in about how she is feeling in her growing body and dealing with the desires that are coming up.

However, consider the gains of coming clean. Not only do you get to show your daughter your humanity and model good relationship building skills, but also you can inquire further about the specific boy or let your daughter share details that you may need to know to support her.

Because of your daughter’s age and your role as her guardian, as well as involvement of another teenager, this is an #intergenerational and #community matter that will require an intergenerational and community approach. You can have conversations with your daughter about how this experience is feeling for her, explore the possibility of #coercion on either side or involvement and influence of friends. There may be important power dynamics around gender, age, race, ability, sexual orientation, and more. You may also need to speak to the guardians of the other teenager to come up with a supportive approach that works for both families. I encourage you to approach your daughter and the other teenager or parents without blame or judgement, so that the conversations continue instead of being shut down. I understand that in case of coercion, you will need to make difficult decisions that aren’t easy for anyone to make.

Tax-deductible donations made possible by The Effing Foundation

© The HEAL Project 2020 | Site by Armita Design