Dear Dr. G.,
Here I am again in yet another struggle with my husband and teenage daughter. It's New Year's Eve and my 15 year old daughter wants to go to a party with an 18-year-old boy and his friends.
The 18-year-old young man is the older brother of her friend. I could be wrong but I think that my daughter has a crush on him. I don't see why she wouldn't. If I was 15 I'd find him attractive. He also has a "bad boy" quality which young girls and adult women seem to find attractive.
I do NOT want to allow my daughter to go to this party for two reasons. First, I don't want her to be with a group of older teens who probably celebrate with alcohol, drugs, and each other's bodies. Second, I believe that she has a crush on this boy. I think that she may be receptive to any advances that he makes toward her. She is not ready,in my opinion, to begin having sex at age 15. My husband says that I am uptight and that we should let our daughter have some fun. He says that New Year's Eve is for partying. My daughter says that I obviously don't trust her or I'd let her go. The truth is that I don't trust her in the company of drunk 18 year olds.
Your thoughts, Dr. G.?
A Party Pooper Mom
You have brought up several important concerns. I would like to commend you on taking your husband and daughter's perspective into account. I am, however, on your team for several reasons.
Let me begin...
If your gut is telling you that your daughter has a crush on this young man then you are probably correct. I always like to tell people that there is a lot of intelligence in the gut and "gut reactions."
The 18-year-olds are probably going to ring in the new year with alcohol. Without knowing this particular group of kids-I can't comment on their use of other substances. The presence of alcohol is a reasonable assumption because it is around in abundance on New Year's Eve and the older teenagers have greater experience in acquiring it than the younger teens.
The combination of a disinhibiting substance like alcohol, a crush, and a party atmosphere might very well be a recipe for dabbling in sexuality.
While I am not saying that you should lock up your daughter for the remainder of her teen years- I do believe that you have a responsibility to limit opportunities for her to be in potentially dangerous situations. Also, your daughter is using the famous "You don't trust me" line. The fact is that it is difficult to completely trust a young teenager. Your daughter, like so many other teens, is trying to make you feel guilty by using this hackneyed line. Do NOT fall for it. Tell her that you care deeply about her safety and the issue here is more about safety than trust. Regarding your husband, he seems to have a very permissive attitude.
I say assert yourself and say NO to this party. This may make you temporarily unpopular in your home but everyone will recover. Perhaps, your daughter can find something more age-appropriate to do on New Year's Eve.
Good Luck and Happy New Year!