Since: Aug 08

Location hidden

#1 Jan 22, 2014
Dear Amy: We have recently become aware that our 14-year-old daughter has been in very close contact with an 18-year-old boy who lives halfway across the country, thanks to the magic of the Internet. We are not aware of all of the details of their communications (which is primarily by texting), but there is definitely a strong emotional bond.

This has been going on for several months, and we noticed that our daughter has been very secretive and texting constantly in any spare time. She is very quiet and shy and not very active about socializing with people in normal (versus virtual) life.

Naturally, we as parents are very concerned about this and unsure of what to do.

For now, we will attempt to open up the arrangement so that we can monitor what is going on: only email contact, with us monitoring the communications.

Frankly, this sounds very difficult, both from an emotional standpoint for the kids and a practical issue of making sure secret contact does not take place. Any access to the Internet is a potential line of communication that we cannot monitor.

Any advice for parents in this modern age of communication?— Parents in the New World

Dear Parents: Welcome to cyberparenting. It's tricky. I shared your question with Donna Rice Hughes, whose website Internet Safety 101 ( internetsafety101.org ) offers helpful tutorials for parents and kids to navigate through this safely.

Realistically, you will not be able to eliminate contact, and you might not even be able to monitor it thoroughly, though you should check her texts (unannounced) to make sure they are not sexual and follow her presence on social media.

You should also open this up to the extent that you can to get to know this young man whom she cares so much about. At her age, you as parents should make every effort to meet and get to know all of her friends, real world or virtual. This is non-negotiable.

Communicate with him via Skype, phone or email, with your daughter present and with an open attitude. Verify that he is who he says he is.(And does he know that she is 14?) Also connect with his parents to let them know of this relationship. Basically, you want to demonstrate to both that you are present and involved.

Limit your daughter's phone time to make sure she gets her homework done and participates in family life. Encourage her to get involved with at least one school activity and help her to foster friendships closer to home.

Dear Amy: I have a son-in-law who is 37, 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs about 250 pounds. I love him dearly because he treats my daughter like gold. The problem is his diet. He loves and craves cheese and eats cheese on everything.

I want to warn him about the pitfalls of this, but I'm hesitant. His father picks on him about his weight/diet, but it doesn't seem to do any good.

I think he's an emotional eater, and I don't want to make waves, but if he continues with this diet he's going to make my daughter a widow and their children fatherless real soon.

We get along very well, but I just don't know how to approach him about this. I don't want to sound like his father. Can you give me some ideas?— Father-in-law

Dear Father-in-law: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 52 percent of men 18 years and over met the 2008 federal physical activity guidelines for aerobic activity.

Your son-in-law most likely knows how unhealthy his diet is. Don't confront or criticize. His father already belittles him on his eating; it would be great for you to be a friend in his corner, encouraging him toward a healthier lifestyle by being active with him (if possible). Also, encourage him to get regular medical checkups. Too few men visit their doctor regularly; seeing a physician could be a lifesaver for him.

Since: Aug 08

Location hidden

#2 Jan 22, 2014
-Continued-

Dear Amy: "Confused and Sad" wrote about falling in love with a man other than her husband. I hope she takes your advice to work hard to recommit to her marriage. To leave her husband and children is an act that cannot be undone, while an infatuation can be fleeting.— Been There

Dear Been There: I agree. Thank you

Since: Aug 08

Location hidden

#3 Jan 22, 2014
LW1: I wouldn't be comfortable with a 14 year old daughter having a relationship with an 18 year old, virtual or not.

LW2: MYOB.

“Where is Tonka?”

Since: Feb 09

Neda, stay with me! Charlie

#4 Jan 22, 2014
1 I would check the guy out, dont want your daughter running away into the arms of some hatchet man.

2 Cheese on everything is great! But tell him to boink your daughter more, so he will lose some weight.

3 Once a cheater always a cheater.
Blunt Advice

Plainfield, NJ

#5 Jan 22, 2014
1. What Amy and Sublime say. It is sad when a computer is a kids life. Can't stress enough the importance of extra curricular activities. And don't buy the "I'm not athletic" or not popular enough to be cheerleader excuse. Band, theatre, debate team, a job, youth groups, the Y....get her involved in something she will enjoy with people in person.
2. If having a trim and fit man was important to your daughter she wouldn't have married this guy. MYOB. And life can be short for health nuts as well.

“The two baby belly, please!”

Since: Sep 09

Evanston IL

#6 Jan 22, 2014
LW1: Oh lord, please please please let my girls be science nerds, completely uninterested in boys until they finish their PhDs.

LW2: Well, as you can see, fat shaming doesn't work. Have you tried talking to your daughter? She must have some of the same worries, don'tchathink?
Pippa

Hancock, NY

#7 Jan 22, 2014
I: I agree that I wouldn't want my 14 year old daughter (well any underage child of mine or my grandchildren) involved with an online or real world relationship with a guy I don't personally know and feel is safe who is 18 or older. But I know it's probably impossible nowadays to completely prevent it from happening unless you are monitoring your child 24-7. Being involved as Amy said, getting to know the young man and letting him know that you know and making sure he knows the girl's age is important. The Skype idea is also good. If things get sticky, or even if they don't, there is also the possibility of hiring a private investigator but that would be an expensive enterprise. It would be worth it though if you had really strong impressions that something really bad is going on. I believe there are websites listing the names of sex offenders you could check out but I suspect someone of that sort may very well give a false name anyway.

2: The only advice I can think of for this one is to close your mouth. It's none of your business. If you have a good relationship with your s-i-l, you might invite him to join you in activities you enjoy that would give him some exercise. Otherwise it sounds like he gets enough grief from his dad and his reaction is to this is to eat.

Since: Mar 09

Pittsburgh, PA

#8 Jan 22, 2014
squishymama wrote:
LW1: Oh lord, please please please let my girls be science nerds, completely uninterested in boys until they finish their PhDs.
LW2: Well, as you can see, fat shaming doesn't work. Have you tried talking to your daughter? She must have some of the same worries, don'tchathink?
Huh, I was a science nerd (still am) and I was interested in boys from the time I was old enough to notice the difference. And I grew up in those pre-internet days but I used to have these things called PEN PALS (mostly boys, mostly a few years older.) One became a lifelong friend. Nuthin' new under the sun.

LW2 - MYOB. I love and crave cheese myself, and would eat it on everything if I could. Maybe if I gave up cheese I'd live a little longer. But why would I want to?

“The two baby belly, please!”

Since: Sep 09

Evanston IL

#9 Jan 22, 2014
VAdame wrote:
<quoted text>
Huh, I was a science nerd (still am) and I was interested in boys from the time I was old enough to notice the difference. And I grew up in those pre-internet days but I used to have these things called PEN PALS (mostly boys, mostly a few years older.) One became a lifelong friend. Nuthin' new under the sun.
LW2 - MYOB. I love and crave cheese myself, and would eat it on everything if I could. Maybe if I gave up cheese I'd live a little longer. But why would I want to?
That was my trying-to-be-funny way of saying that I want my girls to not focus all their energies on boys, like their silly mama did.

Toj

“Where is Everyone?”

Since: Jul 12

Location hidden

#10 Jan 22, 2014
L1: Make sure you have her watch the "To Catch A Predator" a few times with you. Then have a chat about people on the 'net, safety issues, etc. Teach her. If you forbid her you will cement the relationship more.

L2: You don't approach him about it. You have to wait until he asks for advice -- even if he never does.

L3: Okay. Pat on the back for Amy.
Kuuipo

Marina, CA

#11 Jan 22, 2014
LW1: I'll bet you lunch this guy is older than 18. Trouble is brewing. Girl needs to get out and into the real world. I would add dance to Blunt Advice's list.

LW2: People who are fat know that they are fat. There is nothing you can say to encourage anyone else to get fit. The individual will do it when s/he is ready. My co-worker, a manager here at work has dropped about half her weight. She did it by bicycling at lunch time and, of course, watching her diet. I don't know what motivated her to get started, but she looks great and has so much more energy.

Tell me when this thread is updated:

Subscribe Now Add to my Tracker

Add your comments below

Characters left: 4000

Please note by submitting this form you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator. Send us your feedback.

Chicago Discussions

Title Updated Last By Comments
News BARACK OBAMA BIRTH CERTIFICATE: Suit contesting... (Jan '09) 41 min District 1 237,546
News Barack Obama, our next President (Nov '08) 1 hr VetnorsGate 1,497,037
Jonny's Towing is Chicagoland's Most Crooked Co... 1 hr Worse than Madoff 19
News Israeli troops begin Gaza pullout as Hamas decl... (Jan '09) 3 hr TRD 71,377
wheres my house keeper? 7 hr john 7
Topix Chitown Regulars (Aug '09) 7 hr CrunchyBacon 104,994
last post wins! (Apr '13) 8 hr honeymylove 2,297

Chicago Jobs

More from around the web

Personal Finance

Chicago Mortgages