Dear Dr. G.,
I have a 14 year old daughter who is a very good kid. I know that I'm probably not objective but my daughter is a good friend to her peers, a good student, and generally makes good decisions. I have to admit that she is an easier and more trustworthy teenager than my older two kids were. Nonetheless, I recently looked at my daughter's Facebook page and saw a photo of one of her friends holding what appeared to be a can of beer.I would like to talk to my daughter about this because I don't want her to get involved with underage drinking. On the other hand, I don't want to lose my daughter's trust and to have her start hiding things from me. Please help me out of this bind.
A Baffled Mom
Welcome to the club of confused and conflicted mothers. You are in good and plentiful company. You sure do have a dilemma and it's not an uncommon one. My assumption is that you don't have an arrangement with your daughter that specifies that you will be glancing at her Facebook page every now and then. Since that wasn't established, I suggest that you apologize to your daughter for "snooping" but then follow up by addressing what you saw. In a calm and gentle manner, express your concern about the photo and give her an opportunity to address it. I suggest calm and gentle because teens shut down when parents become emotional. At the same time, be clear that underage drinking is not acceptable.
My suggestion for the future is that you let your daughter know that you will be randomly monitoring her Facebook, texts, etc. so that she won't feel that you are snooping. Explain to her that this is not a punishment but instead part of the responsibility of being a parent. I recommend this for all parents of teens. When your daughter sees that you approach tough topics with her in a calm manner then you are also increasing the likelihood that she will open up to you about other matters in her life. Good luck!
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