You need to be crystal clear with your daughter, as in, “I’m only going to say this once, so listen very carefully. It is highly irresponsible of your friend’s parents to leave their children home alone for days at a time while they go entertain themselves. It is also against the law, child of mine, and it is only a matter of time before the authorities step in to this situation. I am not going to break the law, much less endanger your welfare.
“And now, about you, young lady, and your feeling that I don’t trust you. The mere fact that you think your friend’s situation is desirable tells me that if I left you alone for several days, you would definitely throw a party to demonstrate to other kids how totally cool you are. So, yes, I don’t trust you, and I’m not leaving you alone. This discussion is now over, for good.”
And with that, get up and leave the room. Your other problem, I strongly suspect, is one you share with lots of today’s parents: You don’t want your daughter to dislike you. As a consequence, you engage in debates with her, trying to get her to say what no 14-year-old has ever said: “Wow, Mom. When you put it that way, a bright, clear light went on in my head and I suddenly got it. Yes. I agree with you. Oh Mom, you’re such a great mom to care so much for me. I love you, Mom.”
Absurd, isn’t it? Now, it’s time for you to shake off those mean, old “I want my daughter to like me” blues and be the parent she needs you to be, whether she likes the parent she needs or not.
Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parent questions at parentguru.com.
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