The second she walks into my office I can tell she is in distress. She does not mince words. “I’m afraid my daughter’s a stalker,” she blurts. I see immediate relief in her face once she verbalizes this. She proceeds to tell me about her daughter’s behavior in regards to a new crush. The specifics of her tale aren’t as important as her very real concerns.
Ah young love, so exciting so new, except when it is not reciprocated! In monitoring your teen’s texts and calls have you suddenly noticed consecutive outgoing messages and calls to one particular number? Have you also noticed that there are few if any incoming calls from this number? Have you taken it one step further and read some of the messages? Were you surprised or even shocked by the content due to the forward, provocative or even desperate nature? Perhaps there have been a few incoming texts which are short and to the point, asking, even imploring your teen to back off. And yet. It appears that your teen is not getting the message which seems pretty clear, “NOT INTERESTED!’ What is a parent to do?
In a calm and considerate manner talk with your teen. Shame and embarrassment are the two most difficult emotions for most human beings to manage so please, tread lightly.
Don’t be surprised if your teen has an emotional reaction to your discussion.
If your teen outright denies your suggestion, encourage her to use perspective taking. Ask her for example, to imagine being on the other end of the texts and calls. Remind her that you have read the recipient’s responses.
If your teen offers excuses such as “Oh, he’s just playing ‘hard to get,’” you may have to talk to your teen about bullying. Explain that unwanted advances can make others feel uncomfortable, even upset. Once again, encourage her to see the situation from another perspective. Ask your teen how she would feel if someone she was not interested in, or even disliked behaved this way toward her.
Get firm if you have to. If your teen does not seem to be getting the message, you may have to take it to another step. Implement a consequence for continued behavior of this type. Make it clear you will be closely monitoring the situation. Explain that you are trying to protect your teen.
The good news is that it is most likely that your teen will listen. As you know, at her age her ego is fragile. It is hard to acknowledge that someone you would like to pursue romantically is simply not interested.
If your teen demonstrates a pattern of this type of behavior, you may want to take her to a professional counselor.
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