I am 32 and have a 15-year-old daughter. It’s always been me and her. I’ve never brought home random guys, or even let her know I was talking to anyone. But last year, I met the man of my dreams. We dated a couple of months before I introduced them. Things were going OK (apart from a few bad days) until last week, that is, when she burst in on us in bed together and began screaming about how disgusting we were and how much she hates me.
We did end up talking, and I thought things were better. But today she came home unexpectedly and saw us lying naked together. We got into a screaming match and she wanted me to leave. So I did. I came back a few hours later. We tried to talk, but it didn’t go well. I am lost on what to do, and don’t know where to go from here.
We have since got a little past the sex issue, but she is still struggling to let me have a relationship. We fight all the time and she is constantly coming back with snarky remarks and texts. I don’t know how to make her understand that this is how life works.
I applaud the fact you’ve never brought home random guys, but not letting her know that you were interested in men may have given her an unrealistic idea of adult relationships. In other words, how does she know this is how life works if you’ve never made that side of your life known to her? And now, suddenly, she’s confronted with you and your new boyfriend in bed together with no preparation.
How did you introduce this man to her? Is he part of her life, too? Look at this from your daughter’s point of view: you’re having fun, and you’re entitled to it. But what’s in it for her? Not much at the moment.
There was also something quite provocative in your longer letter: you went into some detail about you and your partner in bed together – it was very in-your-face and almost adolescent in its retelling. I wonder if that’s how you talk about this new man with your daughter? If so, that would be unsettling for her. I think this news must be hard enough for her to take in – and that’s without catching her mother in bed with him. Maybe it’s time to put some locks on the door?
You must have had your daughter when you yourself were still a teenager, which would have been really tough. At a time in life when you were meant to be going out and having fun, you had a young baby (btw: where is her father in all of this?). You must have missed out on a lot. You are, of course, entitled to your adult life, and while you don’t need to act apologetically or secretively around her, you do need to act appropriately and sensitively.
I wondered if you are slightly resentful at having given up a part of your life so young. You may need to explore that in order to better work through your feelings because, while you’re presenting this as your daughter’s problem, I think there may, possibly, be more going on than you realise.
Don’t forget your daughter is becoming a sexual being herself. She may be worried about relationships and sex, and she may have the normal adolescent preoccupations, such as, “Will I ever meet anyone?” She may be in the middle of important exams, or worried about another baby coming along and replacing her.
It sounds as if your relationship with her was strong before, which is great. Remember teenagers are like giant toddlers and need more love and attention than they can sometimes admit.
You both have fears and worries and these need to be talked through. Do this calmly, not in the middle of a row. Don’t wait to be in flagrante before addressing this again. See beyond the snarky texts to what she’s communicating: fear. You may need to talk it through with a good friend first, so that when you do talk to her, she is not your confidante but your daughter and you are fully there for her.
Take her out for the day or an afternoon, even if she seems to hate you. Let her know you want to spend time with her – this will give both of you a chance to talk. Don’t take anything she says too personally; try to look beyond what she says to what she may be feeling. Let her know that, no matter what is happening you are still, and always will be, her mum.
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