11-09-2020 10:39 AM - last edited on 07-27-2021 10:26 AM by Janine-RO
Ask A Child And Family Professional
My 13 year old daughters best friend is becoming involved in some disturbing behaviour. Lying, nude pics, vaping, looking for acceptance anywhere she can find it (internet).
I’ve approached her mom twice over the last year. We are friends. I have given details on other things earlier, but not these new behaviours. Both times I made it clear to her that she should be looking at her daughters phone.
She was receptive and sounded thankful for the heads up.
Do I approach her again?
What is my responsibility as a parent to point out the things I know about her daughter?
My concern is first that my daughter obviously confided in me. And second, I don’t want something to happen to her friend, and I could have said something.
I also don’t know if it’s my place. I have reached out twice now.
It’s a tough situation you’re in, and I can understand you feeling uncertain and concerned. It's mpt am easy decision. You’re obviously a caring person who has a strong relationship with your daughter, and who also cares about both your daughter’s friend and her mother.
When someone confides in us, usually the best thing to do is to keep that confidence. But, there are some pretty important exceptions to that that most people agree on - like when someone is at serious risk of being hurt.
Based on the information in your post, these are some really serious concerns about your daughter’s best friend, and in particular the nude pics and internet behaviour could put her in danger. I recommend letting her mother know about these concerns.
I do want to acknowledge that this isn’t without potential consequences as a result - depending on the conversations that your daughter’s best friend may then have with her mother, this could impact on the relationships between your daughter and her friend, and you and the mother. But, the cost of not saying anything could also be pretty high.
I’m wondering if you’ve had a conversation with your daughter about secrets, and when things can be kept private versus when they do need to be shared? This can be an important conversation to have with children and teens (and it can be helpful to revisit this as they get older and the types of concerns change). If your daughter understands the reasons why sometimes things can’t be kept in confidence (and that it is about wanting to make sure people are safe and okay), she will feel more confident in deciding what to share and when, and is more likely to accept when things can’t be kept in private.
These conversations can also help make it easier for young people to let someone know when they know someone is in danger - because it creates a sense of permission to break a confidence when needed without feeling they are doing the wrong thing.
That’s something it’s important to remind yourself of as well. It can be really hard to go against the internal rules we have about keeping secrets, and can result in feelings of guilt and uncertainty. But, there is nothing wrong with sharing information to keep someone safe when that person is in danger.
Linda is a psychologist experienced in working with people across the lifespan, including teenagers and their families ,in a variety of settings, and is ReachOut's Clinical Lead.
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11-12-2020 02:31 AM
I was interested to read your post as I've been in the situation recently where my daughter has shared information with me and I passed it on. She had someone confide that he'd had tourettes when he'd been drinking. Only the day before, a friend mentioned that her husband and daughter are both at risk of seizures when they drink. So, I was concerned this young man was having seizures and could end up in serious trouble.
I don't know whether you remember the story of teenager Anna Wood who had a bad reaction to an exstasy tablet years ago and her friends were too scared to call an ambulance and by the time she got to hospital it was too late and she died. Her family really got the word out and I know our high school is telling teens to call an ambulance if there's trouble.
I agree with Linda that there are some secrets that can't really be kept secret, but there are possibly discreet ways that the information can be shared and the mum of your daughter's friend can be discreet about how she found out.
Our daughter has recently been engaging in increased risky behaviour and in many ways, at least to me, it came out of nowhere and took us by surprise. She seems to be bored at school and looking at ways to "spice things up". The other day this included taking Vodka to school. I didn't realize for a few days how much Vodka she'd actually drunk at school. She was dobbed on and got suspended. I'm very grateful she was caught because she might've taken more risks and really landed in trouble. Well, more trouble.
I hope this helps.
PS Reach out has a fact sheet on risk taking which someone from the office could connect you with and provide the link.