Dear Dr. G.,
I need your advice, as I found my 15-year-old daughter using a second Facebook account which she was hiding from me. She was sexting, swearing, chatting indecently with boys from her school and others. I found some really disgusting pictures of her and other sexually explicit photos not of her thank God but she has crossed the line and actually stepped on me as she has been lying to me over and over again and I can't trust her. I am a single father who is trying very hard to install in my daughter good manners and moral behavior. Unfortunately, her mother is way too busy with her work that she is not paying much attention to her and I am the one catching her doing bad things over and over again. I try to discipline taking away her privileges and giving her some chores to do but nothing really major and she has gotten used to getting away with it but not anymore as I want her to be responsible and her behavior is unacceptable. I am meeting with my ex-wife and our daughter to discuss this matter further but I feel I am alone on this and that her mother is not very supportive as she always tells her do not do this again and gives her a hug and things go back to normal but they do not and I want this to stop. Any advice? I would appreciate it as I want to approach this issue with calm and make both of them understand that there are consequences for this bad behavior and we need to fix it.
A Frustrated Father
I really do have tremendous empathy. Of course, you want your daughter to stay out of harm's way and she is putting herself into potentially dangerous situations with her sexting and other behaviors. It is a shame that your daughter does not understand that you are trying to help her. I also understand how the issue is significantly harder because you and your ex-wife are not on the same page.
Nonetheless,I believe that all teens secretly crave limits and structure and your daughter is certainly testing boundaries. Try to get your ex-wife on board and develop a plan whereby your daughter earns Internet and other privileges. Even if your wife is inconsistent you must remain consistent. Your daughter must see that there is a parent in charge even if that means that you are the bad guy for a while. If your daughter continues to engage in sexting,posting photos, etc you will need to take unsupervised Internet privileges away from her.
As always, I suggest that you all go to a family therapist to find out why your daughter is acting out and how you and your wife can help her. You are right to be worried. You are a father with excellent intentions from what I read in your letter.
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