How do you protect your daughter

Alli How do you protect your daughterIn the previous blog, I submitted some pretty scary statistics. Yet, there is hope. I have heard it said that knowledge is power. However, I believe that knowledge is opportunity and caring is power. So how does an informed parent proceed with caring for your teen? Please read the following ideas.

What should you do as a parent?

  • Tell your daughter about these statistics so that she does NOT become one.
  • If your daughter reports abuse to you, always believe her. You are not the investigator.
  • Teach her to never give out her passwords.
  • Teach her to never accept a drink from someone and never leave her drink at a party.
  • Teach her not to keep secrets. If she is a victim of a crime, she has the right to report this to local law enforcement. If she has been raped (or suspects she has been date raped) she needs to go the local emergency room to complete a rape kit— and not to take a shower or wash at all before being examined. This will provide evidence to the court system that she has been raped. Her body is the crime scene and without evidence, prosecuting becomes very difficult. Due to this and other factors, 98% of rapists never spend a day in jail.
  • Make sure she knows she has to fight back. She cannot bury this. This wasn’t her fault. It doesn’t matter what she should have been doing differently, she is NEVER responsible for someone else’s evil choices. The fact that they violated her is never her fault. NEVER. She did not have it coming. She did not ask for it.
  • Teach her that if she is in a psychologically abusive relationship, more overt displays of loyalty and friendship to him will NOT make it better. More transparent schedules, more time spent together will NOT allay his game to control your daughter. Teach her to just walk away and not formally break up. The less she says, the less manipulation will occur.
  • Encourage your daughter to tell you or another trusted adult if she is worried about what is happening. If she feels she is in any danger, encourage her to keep all digital communication and voice mails, as well as any letters/notes. These might be later needed as proof, if she chooses to file harassment charges. Perpetrators are addicted to controlling someone—the only thing that helps them is a firm boundary or a threat of punishment—such as legal action—if it continues.
  • It’s fair for parents to be suspicious when they are concerned that their child could be involved in an abusive relationship. You are not controlling your child when you ask for their phone and investigate their social media activity. Check your cell phone bill as every company provides a list of numbers used for calls and texts. You have a right to know what’s happening with your child in your home or what is happening to them if you are paying for their phone bill. Let this be a standard of providing the phone in the first place.
  • Teach her to lock her dorm room each time she leaves and enters her room, even if her roommate lost the key.
  • We teach children to wear seat belts and they don’t think they are going to get into a car crash each time they get into a car. Teaching your daughter to protect herself and how to respond if harassment or assault has happened gives her options to be in control, not to become paranoid about people.

An ounce of prevention is worth 100 pounds of cure in this case. Please don’t wait until your daughter is hurting. Share this with her the minute she has a phone and most definitely as she ventures out on her own whether in college, graduate school or living on her own.

Former Shelterwood Academy Therapist:

Mary Ellen McDonald-Mann, MS, LCSW
President of Mann Counseling Group & Co-founder of Last Battle, LLC

Video: Mary Ellen presents her new book From Pain to Power

Mistakes Therapists Make

Four common errors that therapists make with teenagers, that Doré E. Frances has come across in her practice.

Mistake 3: Improving Family “Communication”

Screen Shot 2015 06 02 at 12.50.45 PM 300x202 Mistakes Therapists MakeThe most pervasive idea in both individual and family therapy is that young people run a muck because the family doesn’t “communicate” well. Too many therapists, in my opinion, focus on discussing what each member of the family feels without acknowledging any difference in status between children and parents.

They seem to believe that children may comment on parents’ sex life or spending habits as freely as parents would address the same subject with their child. When a young person is out of control and drunk on power, this attention to open communication is like throwing gasoline on an open flame.

I once told a 14-year-old client who was insulting his parents in a coaching session to stop speaking that way. He jumped up, pointed at me and shouted, “You’re my advocate. You have to let me say whatever I want as long as it’s what I really feel!”

I realized that this is what he had been taught by his former therapist at home before he entered a wilderness therapeutic outdoor program..

Therapists commonly teach parents and children to speak in “I” messages, and when no power struggle is going on, this practice is perfectly reasonable. However, when adolescents are angry and explosive, there is typically a power struggle going on, and this level of communication inflames it by raising an out of control teenager’s status to that of an equal partner with their parents. In power struggles, teenagers challenge parents about the content of an issue, and parents respond in the same vein.

John then screamed at his mother, “This is just bullshit! You always pull this kind of controlling shit on me. Everyone else’s parents are letting them go to the party. We’re not doing anything wrong mom.”

She responded to the content, defending herself by saying, “this isn’t bullshit.” She insisted that she and her Screen Shot 2015 06 02 at 12.50.09 PM 257x300 Mistakes Therapists Makehusband didn’t always control John and that she didn’t care what other parents allow. Some therapists might encourage this kind of interaction, thinking the teen and parents are communicating, when, in fact, the teenager is defining the issue and browbeating his parents. The communication approach I prefer simply acknowledges the process of the interaction and keeps parents from lapsing into a defensive position.

So with John’s mother, she might have said, “You know what, young man? As long as you’re talking to me that way, you aren’t going anywhere.” 

Often, I actually coach parents to be more mysterious and indirect by keeping their knowledge and plans to themselves. For instance, as a parent learns more about their teen’s friends, we encourage them to accumulate that knowledge until it can be used as part of a cohesive plan of action.

For instance, when parents learn about an illicit party this coming Friday night, instead of confronting the teen, it may be better to organize several parents to show up there together to break it up.

Difficult teenagers often work very hard so that parents don’t learn anything about their lives outside the home, while parents usually talk constantly, sharing all their plans and giving away whatever strategies they may be developing. Teenagers usually will resist their parents’ taking control of information by threatening further misbehavior or escalating the confrontation on the spot in an attempt to make parents capitulate.

By paying attention to process and not giving in to the temptation to explain and justify, parents can maintain their calm and gain greater authority.

Check out this interesting video on The Principle of Confusion