Re: Teenage daughter has had sexual contact

[ Parent to Parent Forum ]

Posted by judy lavin on February 21, 2004 at 18:42:55:

In Reply to: Teenage daughter has had sexual contact posted by Pat Riley on February 08, 2004 at 02:37:39:

Hi Pat,

As you know, I already sent you a personal e-mail on this issue a couple of weeks ago. I will try to summarize what I said in the e-mail here.

First of all, we, unfortunately, live in an overly sexualized society. Kids aren't ready for the sexual information and images they are exposed to in the media--during primetime--and elsewhere.
Kids your daughter's age--and younger--are experimenting sexually in all sorts of ways that aren't healthy for their development. It's different than the past when people were concerned about having a friendship before getting too physical. This is a difficult issue that today's parents must deal with and face.

The good news is she's sharing her feelings with you which I read as a cry for your help.

By her recent sexual conduct, your child could be acting out her internal pain. In any event, what she's doing to make herself emotionally "feel better" is done on an unconscious level. (She's reaching for physical contact to "medicate" herself. In times of hurt and despair, some of us reach for food, others for cigarettes, others for drugs, etc. etc.) On some level, she is probably trying to make herself feel needed, loved and secure. Unfortunately, what she's doing will only make her feel used and insecure--but she's a child and doesn't understand that, yet.

She could also be trying to get your attention, since you said that she can live with you if she gets into trouble. (She could already be rebelling against her grandparents.) I would guess that she would prefer to live with you instead of her grandparents.
I'm wondering how you can get around the issue of telling her grandparents since you need them to help you limit your child's behaviors. I think your daughter needs clear limits to keep her safe. And, in order to do that, she needs loving guidance from the adults with whom she lives. By loving guidance, I mean, people who will talk with her, set and enforce consistent, reasonable limits and not be too harsh or punitive.

From your letter, it sounds to me that her grandparents are not terrific at problem solving. It may be too much for them at their age. I have no idea how old they are or what they have on their plates.
I think you should find a professional counselor for yourself and your daughter. It might be a good idea to find someone who can do family counseling. It sounds to me that she needs help sorting through her feelings. It's not easy to live with your grandparents when you have a good relationship with your dad. She may feel rejected by you, even if that isn't the case. I don't know. I'm just giving you some thoughts. In any event, a trained therapist--who can be found through personal recommendations, the school district you're in or her pediatrician--would be a good idea.

I don't know your personal circumstances, but you might consider having your daughter live with you, if it's possible. Someone has to be there who understands, is sensitive and able to respond to her issues. Someone has to help her through her problems in a consistent way. I know you don't want things to escalate.

Those are a few suggestions. I hope this is helpful.