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Dear Doctor Love,
My husband and daughter have turned our house into a war zone. She and her dad have always been best buddies until this past year, when she turned fourteen. She began wearing make-up and more revealing clothes and staying out past curfew. He makes her take off the lipstick, sends her to her room to change into what he thinks is more appropriate and grounds her when she is late. Then they fight for days.
I hate being in the middle. He feels we need to present a united front and just tell her how it will be and she says she is just behaving like a normal teenage girl.
How can I make him understand that she will want to gain more independence and make her understand that she still has to have rules and live by them?
It is every parent’s job to know when to let their child push and when to hold her back and you will have to be the one to effect a compromise.
Talk to your husband about trust. He has to trust her to venture out on her own so she can trust him to be there when she comes back. She is going to make mistakes and she needs to know she can rely on her family to support her when she finds herself in a difficult situation.
The kitten t-shirts she used to wear are gone and mini skirts have replaced her baggy shorts. This signals a curiosity about boys and dating and it scares him to see that daddy’s little girl is becoming a young woman. Instinctively he wants to protect her.
Visit online clothing stores with your daughter to get an idea of what she wants to wear and then help her decide what is appropriate for her age. Your daughter is becoming sexually aware and she is testing out the attention she is receiving. You can teach her that attractive doesn’t have to be overly revealing, and at the same time show your husband that she doesn’t need to be covered head to toe to be protected. Exchange the lipstick for gloss and help her select natural coverage makeup designed for teens.
As far as curfew, again it is time to compromise. At fourteen, ten o’clock on weekends seems fair, and as she gets older, you can make that time later by half hour increments. School and homework should dictate what hour she is home during the school term.
Every family goes through this, and they come out the other side. Yours will as well.