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What to do about teen who is sneaking out, having sex, and has tried marijuana and alcohol?

Stressed mom asks: "OMG I need serious help. I can't afford to hire a therapist and we have no insurance. My husband and I have struggled just to keep my daughter in an upper middle class area just to keep her out of trouble. I have had a good relationship with her and she has kept her grades up and took honor role classes.
 
I found out she has been sneaking out of her window for the past 4 months and seeing different boys and having sex. She says on occasion she tried 'marijuana and alcohol. I never thought I would have to face this with her. I thought she had her head screwed on tight. I was totally blind. I need advice quickly. She acts like she is ready to change and I already have her seeing a therapist. She is more aggressive about attending Church. But I don't know if this is just a manipulative tactic. I am willing to move to another school district in order for her to get a fresh start and not have to worry about rumors floating around. If you think this would be beneficial, please comment. I need some guidance with all of this. Thanks."

Above question asked by an Education.com visitor after reading the article, "Keeping Your Teen Out of Trouble": http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Keepi...
In Topics: Teen issues, Teen sexuality and dating, Teen alcohol and substance abuse
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Wayne Yankus
Jul 11, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

You have had some good responses to your question.  Locking her in only makes the behavior that much more of a challenge.  Speak to her about what you expect and what your house rules are.  Changing schools will only label her. She needs to work within her school community.  Include her pediatrician or medical home for a full exam and some serious anticipatory guidance about risk behavior. Assure her of medical confidence. Remind her that pregancy still happens and for a girl there are three choices: terminate, adoption, or keep the baby--all are life altering experiences.  You are obviously caring.  Don't let your guard down and if counselling is needed, many communities or schools have clinics available where the fees are on a sliding scale--check with your local hospital.  Finally, I would ask your daughter for her cell phone and Face book password and check to be sure she is not being harassed on line.

Wayne Yankus, MD, FAAP
expert panelist: pediatrics
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Additional Answers (12)

CreativeRachna
CreativeRac... , Child Professional, Teacher writes:
I'm so sorry to hear about your frustration with your teenage daughter.  Have you been able to put a padlock on the window and or move her into a room where she cannot escape at night?  At times like these, you may want to keep a closer eye on her, being firm and explaining to her that privileges will be taken away and she maybe put on "house arrest" since she refuses to abide by the rules of the house.  The following article refers to talking to your teen about sex.  Whether or not she is already sexually active, it maybe a good idea for you to ensure she is protecting herself and is having safe sex.

http://www.education.com/topic/teen-attitudes-about-sex/

The next article discusses the steps to disciplining your teen and rules which are reasonable.  

http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Teenagers_2/
http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Setting_Rules/

I hope this helps...
Best of luck,
Rachna
> 60 days ago

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rkaiulani
rkaiulani writes:
I don't think that padlocking her window is going to help - it will probably make things a lot worse, actually. Right now it sounds like at least the lines of communication are open between child and parent. It's important to remember that experimentation with sex, alcohol, and marijuana are all fairly common at the high school age, and does not necessarily mean that there will be ongoing problems. I recommend speaking openly with your child about your concerns in a reasonable way, and negotiating groundrules for behavior that you can both agree on (i.e. if she wants to go out, ask that she always be honest about where she is and what she is doing. In return, you will be understanding and reasonable in your reactions). Make sure your daughter understands the importance of safe sex and the pitfalls of drug and alcohol use, but again, you need to be an ally to your child and not an enemy. Mutual trust and communication will help the situation: aggressive disciplinary measures probably won't.
> 60 days ago

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Loddie1
Loddie1 , Parent writes:
Hello,
Well the good news is that you are caring and want to help your child. You are on the right path as far as trying to get her into a youth church program. I would continue to pursue this route. Also, try to find out why she is acting in the manner she is. Usually a change of some kind brings on this kind of behavior. Seeking to understand what is troubling her will give you some power in your choices. As frustrating as it is, teenagers can often become very confused and try drugs simply to fit in with a crowd even if they have been brought up better. I would also look into homeschooling too. A lot of children simply don't do well in a school setting. I can personally tell you that the pressures are too much for some kids to handle. It is like they never really learn how to cope with different groups or handle them. Often they become a victim to these crowds due to this inability to make good choices. Good Luck.
> 60 days ago

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karelg
karelg writes:
Well this must be frustrating, annoying & stressful situation for you. You must have tried some methods to control her, but in vain. I don't know what to suggest you as limits and rules should not be enforced on teens, otherwise they get rebellious, but the truth is that limits and rules are crucial for child development. First of all, try spending quality time with her, involve with her in the activities she like the most and gain her trust. Then talk to her about this that how frustrating the situation is, and also the outcomes of what you are doing would be dangerous. I read this blog on high school and it's variables here on http://parentingteens.com/blog/high-sfchool-and-its-variables/ , and found out that rightly said school variables have changed a lot in couple of years. Even middle & primary schools are not safe from the curbing problems of drug/alcohol abuse, sex etc. Now we see that teens want freedom from everything & they get what they want from the social circle they are in. So most of the misleading information comes directly or indirectly from the school social circle.
So I would also suggest you to talk to the school counselor about this and bring this issue knowledge into the officials of school so that they can talk to her peer group. I know it's sounds like less productive but you need to act strong and take actions earlier before she get out of control totally.
> 60 days ago

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lawanz
lawanz writes:
First of all you are doing a good job. Keep her in church as much as possible. Yes, I would lock her window. I know that you don't want to be aggressive with her but you have to let her know that you are the parent. Letting kids make there own decision and being their friend sometimes make the situation worse. Stay on top of her and let her know that you love her. And if you think moving will help it want hurt to try it. Its your child do what ever you think is best because your decision will count in the end! Good Luck!!!!
> 60 days ago

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myteensavers
myteensavers writes:
Stressed mom,

You are not alone.   Tens of thousands of parents struggle with this same situation every day.   Oftentimes, it's poor parenting that allows the teen to spiral deeper into trouble.   If you are not close with your daughter, become close with her.  These are critical years in her development.   As your bond grows, so do the channels of communication.   Your child will be less inclined to lie to you, and will be more willing to be open about what is happening in life.


Home drug testing is also an option.    It can be the lifesaving tool in your medicine cabinet.   Communication is key though.   Tightening the grip and restricting your child will only push your child to act out more.
> 60 days ago

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rachelritalin789
rachelrital... writes:
Well, honestly therapists don't seem to work half the time.
I had one for quite some time, and it was the most awkward waste of time I had ever experienced.
The sex, as a teenager, is not that abnormal.they're either too blinded, naive, curious, or just plain wreckless.
You could actually talk to her about it, but being a teenager, I know it wouldn't work. You could tell the parents of the kids your daughter hangs out with that they're doing it, and they'de probably stop, or put a camera in her room to monitor her behavior.
The drinking, well, you could settle it the way my great-grandpa did.Get a couple of bottles of the cheapest, most disgusting beer you can find. Tell her she can drink as much as she wants until she's sick.Trust me, it works.
the Marijuana, well, you can tell her that she can when she's eighteen or twenty.That way it won't slowly kill her.And that it's in a legal state.She'll be surprised of how laid back you are, and might respect it.
And as for church, I follow the philosophy of Confucianism, and I'm completely open to any religion a person has. I find it dumb how people think everything should be the same.
Anywho, you should be open to your daughter's religion and beliefs.half of my family hates me for my style and religion because they're all strictly Mennonite.

And remember, nobody's perfect.
> 60 days ago

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kimberbree
kimberbree writes:
screw her window shut if shes sneaking out of it every night. kids need discipline if shes out making bad decisions she needs to be grounded, yes talking with your kids is very important but you cant just talk teens will tell you one thing and go and do another, they will tell you anything you want to hear to get their way.you dont need to be your child's  friend they have enough of those, you need to be her parent. I wouldn't suggest moving schools your child will just make new friend and prob be doing the same thing the problem is everywhere not just at her school. If shes making bad choices and getting a bad reputation at her school that's something she needs to live with.children need to have consequences to their actions, too many times parents bail their kids out when they get in trouble when really they are just hurting them and making things worse.church is good structured and safe social time but find out why she wants to go my teen was going to a youth group at her friends church turns out she was going there to meet boys after a while she started lieing and saying she was going there but was really sneaking off to go hang out with friends and boys. therapist dont really work for teens because they dont trust them they think the therapist will just go back to you and tell you everything. honestly your doing a good job raising a teen is hard and nobody knows what their doing so my advice is keep her safe talk to her calmly about the choices she making and the consequences for them. Put her on birth control, it doesn't mean you condone her having sex its just keeping her safe from ruining her life and let her know that.discipline she has to have it you have to give it to her, as much as kids hate it and will tell you they hate you for it they need it and it makes them feel loved and safe and will one day thank you for it.If she has a phone take it every night at a time of your choosing before bed there is no reason she needs it to sleep and this is a tool for her no meet up with her friend and sneek out. Spy check her face book check her phone check her back pack read her notes a lot of people might disagree with this but if you dont know what shes doing you cant keep her safe because she wont tell you everything no matter how good your relationship is, if she cant make good choices she doesn't deserve privacy. know her friends know their addresses know their phone numbers there probably will be times you have to hunt her down, her friends will lie for her.your her mother you need to do what you feel is right we all feel we've lost control with our teens its the way it gos their not our little babes anymore they are growing up and with that is curiosity and bad choices its how they learn remember back when you were a teen  it will help you to stay one step ahead of her good luck
> 60 days ago

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justanotherteenager
justanother... writes:
so i am teenager and i was reading what you said and while i agree with some things that you have said i completly disagree with others. if you tell your teen that they cant do something the first reaction you will get from them is the need to go right back out and do it. if you are too hard with your punishments then they will want to leave and possibly run away. my advise to you as hard as it might be is to sit down and talk to them. tell them that you are here to listen if there is anything else that you need to know about. whatever you do DO NOT GET MAD. what has happened has happened. i know that will be really hard to take but if you get mad you arnt going to help. talk to get and both of you TOGETHER come up with a comprimise as to what you are going to do. dont be suprised if they do lie to you looking for the easy way out. i would highly sugest that you have a family night. but dont just sit and watch tv. you have to make it something fun that they will actually want to do. but do it together. and offer to possibly allow to have their friend or friends to go do it with you. that way you can see who their friends are and see who she hangs out with indirectly. that way you will beable to find out about who they hang out with and what kind of people they like without them them becomingn definsive. a teenager is not going to willing tell you things you have to pry and the easiest way is to get them with some friends while you are there. it may take a few times to open them up with there friends but get out and do things together. and for the love of god when you do hang out make it fun do not start lecuring them and making is misrable they will never want to do it again. so just go have fun together. start over and you WILL  become close. it will just take time.
> 60 days ago

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maxschneider
maxschneider writes:
Question: How old is your teen? If she is fourteen I'd worry, if she was sixteen or even seventeen I'd consider that normal behaviour and worry if this was not case ("is she unpopular? Is she really that square? Doesn't she have *any* friends at all?)

Assuming she was sixteen or older this is the course of action I'd follow:

Sex: Invite her boyfriend home for dinner with mom and dad. If he isn't cool with it he is the wrong guy - if he passes muster (that is if he attends and utters full sentences which are grammatically correct) he may stay overnight - but only if you like him and only if he comes back a few times.... if he blushes and is anxious he gets extra points for being in love and keeping it real. Your daughters bed is a lot more comfortable (and safer!) than the backseat of a car.

Stress the importance of protection, make her buy some condoms at the drugstore and put her on the pill (teenage pregnancy from some random guy on the backseat at the Drive In is a bad idea - having clean & safe fun in bed is awesome).

Alcohol: Don't drink and drive! Don't ever be the passenger in a car with a drunk driver! Pick her up instead  ("call me any time of day or night honey"). Have a designated driver, quiz her about who the designated driver is going to be. Congratulate her on choosing responsible friends and the designated driver on bringing your daughter safely home!

Going out is good but only on the weekends. If school performance is impacted by partying (better grades: get to stay longer at the party).

Family commitments must be kept (Sunday outing even if she had only two hours of sleep - be a good sport hon'). If she is coming home late, err early, make her get fresh bred rolls for a family breakfast. Then do some vacuuming while she sleeps ;) Tell her the secret of drinking less alcohol and more water and thus reducing the hangover the next day.

Marijuana: Make her chose her friends wisely, make sure they don't arouse police suspicion (no need to get a permanent record  and being barred from jobs by trying out a mild drug). Make her investigate how to safely transport and consume the drug (baking cookies is better than smoking the stuff as the danger of getting addicted to smoking is greatly reduced if you only eat cookies - they only make you fat). Make sure she knows her civil rights ("no unreasonable searches") so that that all important criminal record stays clean. Suggest foods for the inevitable craving for food when you consume. Bond over this. OK, this may be asking too much. Talk to her about the effects of the drug and if it really is worth the risk of possible police involvement.

Church: Don't force her to go you can't beat anyone into believing in God anyway. If you succeed they will become a bigot and I'd rather have an atheist daughter than a bigoted one.
> 60 days ago

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shutters
shutters writes:
I am a mother of a 16 year old girl I adopted from foster care when she was 13 yrs.  I've read through all the answers and have tried all these approaches.  It's all good advice from caring parents and experts.  Remember, each child is an individual with their own accountability and choices. Your responsibility as a parent is to love unconditionally and teach your child right from wrong.   1 rule won't apply to every situation and work the same for every child.  

The word discipline comes from the word disciples, and means to teach.

My advice is you are her mother.  You love her and know her better than anyone else.  Trust your motherly instinct, be confident in the choices you make in discipline.  Don't look for approval from others, look for the best interest of you child and teaching her right from wrong.  It's not an easy road, there isn't a fix all, constantly remind yourself and your daughter "we will get through this" and "I will always love you even if you make mistakes".

Your household rules should be followed and there should be consequences when broken. I really liked some of the creativity parents came up with for discipline.  It's very apparent you love your daughter. Stay strong in the standards you've set for your household, set the example of what is right and what is wrong.

It's important that you don't parent out of fear. You are the parent, this is your household.  When confrontation takes place remember bigger, wiser, stronger.  As children start moving towards independence they will test, manipulate, etc. to get what they want.  Stay calm, and patient, but stay firm in the standards you believe in.  

If you are spiritual, pray and seek guidance.
> 60 days ago

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Kelly1971
Kelly1971 writes:
You've already had a lot of answers, so hopefully you will see this one too.  I was that teen 25 years ago.  I was being molested by my father, and when I told my mother she divorced him.  Being very young, I thought this was the reason for her divorce, but I didn't receive any help.  Looking back, I can see why I was self-destructing.  However, anything my parents did to try and stop me made me want to rebel more.  It took my own strength to want to get out of the situation and succeed in life to truly overcome and get better.  So, I think you should consider that your daughter has been abused by someone, and try to find a place or person that she feels safety in to get her to open up.  If there is more to the story than you know, please get her help and stay involved.  She needs to know you care and will always be there for her even when she pushes you away.
> 60 days ago

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