The parents are convinced the boy has brainwashed her. He is older, he should know better, they feel. And they want the boy to back off, because they feel their girl can be obstinate and adamant. They wonder if she has become so rigid and rude because she attained puberty earlier.
The parents are not willing to acknowledge that their daughter is being head strong. The boy is not to be blamed fully. She has had an indulgent childhood, had all her wants fulfilled. There has been no discipline, more of permissive parenting. Since she has gotten all her wishes fulfilled, she felt this wish too would be fulfilled. She has a point, and the parents blame the boy.
The parents are bewildered at her attitude and suddenly she seems this enigma to them. They no longer recognize her as their sweet little daughter. The boy belongs to another religion, he is yet to settle in life. And she is a minor, she cannot marry. The parents have pressed the panic button and feel things have to be hushed up.
The family wanted me to counsel her and get her to change her mind. I informed them that was not my job. I would appraise her of the consequences of any inappropriate action she takes. She is a minor and there will be repercussion on the boy’s future. She needs to choose. What she can do in the four years she has till she turns eighteen. Some kind of a truce can be arrived at.
If she is opposed then she can do something foolish. Her age is for impulsive action. She has taken a so called adult decision. Then she needs to be addressed as an adult, asked to outline the future. Is she aware of the need for education, for a job, the need to earn, how much is required for a living, etc? She can be appraised of this, and she can be encouraged to think.
Is she is so obsessed with the thought of marrying him? It looks like the more the family is opposing her, the more she is digging her heels in. It could be infatuation, a boy talks well and the girl seeks his company. She has also indulged in a lot of fudging her phone calls and talking to him on the sly. All behaviors of young children.
If her parents had encouraged her to confide in them, appraised her of the fact that infatuations are common at this age and that she could be friends, but think of relationship once she completes her education, things wouldn’t have gone this far. They know she is headstrong, and still they are pushing her.
A boy talks to a girl, an adult sees it and jumps to adult conclusions. Then things take a downward spiral. The attraction of the opposite sex will be there for teenagers. They are becoming aware of their sexuality and so dormant feelings are stirred. This is where parents need to be available and good listeners. Here guidance and support are required. It is a slippery zone for teenagers, and putting restrictions on them at this time will not help. Their curiosity will be piqued and they will seek information elsewhere. This information could be flawed and the teen ends up messing his/her life.
The atmosphere at home needs to be one where any discussion can happen. Teenagers are filled with questions on feelings, sexuality and relationships. They need a patient listening and guidance, not screaming matches. When a child has a warm upbringing, has the confidence of recognizing and understanding feelings with the help of parents, he/she will want to confide. It is the parents’ job to create this atmosphere. Not suddenly feel their sweet child has turned into a ogre and then blame the world for the changes.
Children have more access to information now than the older generation did. The parents need to understand this and behave accordingly. Interact with the children, find out who their friends are, what activities they indulge in, participate in teacher-parent meetings, talk to the child one-to-one, listen when they want to confide, impart values and have rules in the house, and learn to guide.
Instead of being shocked with a particular behavior, the need is to see where this behavior is coming from. An emotionally secure child will seldom go wrong. He/she needs to be taught decision making and owning responsibility for his/her actions.
Parenting is a twenty four job. And there is no prior training. And no two children are the same. It can be a daunting job. But by seeking advice/counsel, listening to gut instinct, actively listening to the kids, and remembering to give unconditional love, parents can do a confident job. Parents can build a stock of joyful memories, participate in interesting activities as a family, and not protect the kids from too many negatives. At the same time, they need to respect the I space of the child too.
Hope the young lady is listened to more by her family and the companionship she is seeking outside, she gets at home.