Hi Dr. Lisa,
I’m the mom of a 14-year-old girl and I am worried that she might be having an online romance. She spends a lot of time in her room, especially at night, and is highly secretive about her personal life. I want to be respectful of her privacy but am beginning to worry. Can you give me some advice?
-A concerned mom
Dear Concerned Mom,
Thank you for reaching out. I hear from many parents that they are wondering the same thing about their child so, rest assured, you are not alone.
The challenging part is untangling what is “typical” teen behavior from something you need to worry about. You’re obviously a caring mom, so let your daughter know how much you care about her well being and that you’re concerned about all aspects of her life including who she is communicating with online.
Some suggestions for you would be to try and talk to her as she is heading off to bed, this is well researched to be a part of the day that teen girls often are more open. Other ideas would include offering do do something she enjoys together like getting a yogurt or shopping, but most important is to ensure that you are doing something together like taking a walk, playing a board game, or event just watching a sunset together quietly taking in the moment.
It is critical to provide examples of relationships without technology and engaging in thoughtful conversation. How you bring up your concerns is sometimes a challenge. Don’t be surprised if, at first, she overreacts. Don’t judge or take it personally. Proceed with caution by giving her a chance to think about what you’re asking. If you do it with love and openness chances are she will confide in you this time and in times in the future.