Confronting a Rebellious and Promiscuous Teen Daughter

Do you have any advice for dealing with a teenage daughter who's recently gotten involved in premarital sex and other destructive activities? While hunting for an extra set of car keys in my daughter's purse I came across a condom and a cigarette lighter. Needless to say, I was devastated. Should I confront her about my discovery?

We hope your question doesn’t imply that you’re afraid to confront your daughter. If so, this is a hurdle you need to overcome. Sometimes being a parent means doing difficult things. Don’t worry that your daughter may get angry at you if you bring this matter to her attention. Just grit your teeth and do what needs to be done. But do it with caution, humility, and meekness. Don’t go in with both guns blazing.

Why do we say this? Because you don’t yet have all the facts. The evidence does seem to indicate that your daughter has been smoking and involved in sexual activity. Yet prior to your discovery you had no clue what she was up to. That suggests the presence of some deeper issues. Maybe even a few serious flaws in your relationship with your child.

Perhaps you need to ask yourself some hard questions. How much time do you spend with your daughter? How often do the two of you have deep, meaningful conversations? What do you know about her friends, her interests, and her values? What’s really going on in her life?

The best thing you can do right now is sit down with your daughter for a heart-to-heart talk. Give her a chance to tell her story. Be honest about going through her purse. Explain that you weren’t trying to violate her privacy, but simply looking for your keys. She should understand that, because she is a minor, there are limits to her privacy as long as she is living under your roof. Tell her how much you love her. Let her know that, as her mother, you are responsible to guide her and protect her from things that could be harmful to her.

If she’s engaging in sexual activity, make sure that she understands the risks. Does she realize she could contract an incurable sexually transmitted disease or become pregnant? If she is smoking, does she understand that cigarettes are addictive and can permanently damage her health? Make it clear that you will take any actions necessary to protect her safety and well-being. Tell her that you plan to start taking your role as a parent far more seriously. Agree on a new set of rules and regulations in your home. Make a resolution to enforce them consistently.

If you think it would be helpful, we would like to invite you to call and discuss this situation with one of our staff counselors. They can also refer you to qualified family counselors in your area.


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