‘My friend’s teenage daughter is dating a 28 year old – it’s driving them apart’

In Lalalaletmeexplain's hit column, readers ask for her expert advice on their own love, sex and relationship problems.

With over 200k Instagram followers, Lala is the anonymous voice helping womankind through every bump in the road. An established sex, dating and relationship educator, she’s had her fair share of relationship drama and shares her wisdom on social media to a loyal army of followers. Every week thousands turn to her to answer their questions (no matter how embarrassing), and her funny, frank approach to love and relationships has made her the ultimate feel-good guru.

Are you an OK! VIP? If not, why not? It’s free and gives you backstage access to stories like this, exclusive home tours, special discounts and so much more! All you need to do is pop your email address below! P.S. If you’re already seeing this article in full, congrats – you’re already on our guest list!

Dear Lala,

I’m writing on behalf of my friend who’s tearing her hair out worrying about her daughter. Her daughter is 18 and has a part-time job at a pub/restaurant and has recently started a ‘relationship’ with a 28-year-old chef who works there.

Her mother feels upset and furious as she thinks that this is an inappropriate relationship because of the age gap, and she has made it clear that she won’t support it. She has highlighted the potential pitfalls and the likelihood of abuse occurring, but her daughter won’t listen. She has removed privileges such as lifts to college and work and cleaning her daughter’s bedroom, but her daughter’s saying that she’s pushing her away. What should she do?

She’s a single parent so there’s no father figure around to intervene or support her. We’ve all tried to educate this young woman by showing her your posts and accounts from similar educators, but she refuses to acknowledge that this man is anything other than in love with her.

Though she is 18 she does appear physically younger – she’s very small and slim, and you wouldn’t think she was an adult to look at her. How can we explain to her that if this man was ‘normal’ he would have a girlfriend his own age and not think it was OK to date a teenager?

Lala says,

Hands up if you wish you could tell your teenage self to stay away from that older man who convinced you that you were mature for your age (my hand is raised). Now, keep your hands up if you would have listened. There will be few hands still up.

When you’re 18 you truly believe that you’ve reached peak maturity and that you know more than most people, especially your parents. You believe that much older person when they tell you you’re not like other people your age. You love it when they tell you they like that you don’t nag like women their age. You see yourself as mature so it’s no surprise to you that they see you as mature too. It’s impossible to see how young 18 is until you’re not 18 anymore.

I think for most people who’ve passed the age of 25 it’s clear to see why people approaching 30 shouldn’t be dating anyone with the word ‘teen’ at the end of their age. We can all see it. We can see the power imbalance, the potential for him to become controlling, that they’re in completely different life phases and that she could potentially get railroaded into young motherhood before she’s had a chance to really live. The potential pitfalls are so obvious to us from the outside, but when you’re in it, and you’re a teenager and you have no concept of how potentially worrying it is, you just can’t see it.

I understand why your friend is worried, but I would urge her to change her approach. Her daughter said it herself, the punishments are serving to push her away. She needs to take the opposite stance. She’s made it very clear to her daughter what the concerns are; that seed has been planted, but from now on she should try not to criticise the boyfriend at all. It doesn’t help. It just makes her daughter want to defend him and to defend her own choice of partner.

If her daughter comes to her to tell her about something bad her partner has done then her mum should point out the red flags and offer support, but she should try to refrain from constantly speaking negatively about the relationship because she will push her daughter into keeping quiet for fear of not wanting to prove her mum right if things do take a bad turn. She never needs to hear “I told you so.” The most important thing to broach would be a gentle conversation with her about contraception and the importance of preventing pregnancy.

The best thing she could do for her daughter is nurture their relationship, book a holiday together, have a day out doing something they both enjoy – preferably things that help raise her self-esteem, like seeing badass feminist comedy show from Grace Campbell or Luisa Omielan, or joining a dance class. She needs to make time for her and spend that time talking about anything other than the relationship unless the daughter raises it.

Think back to being 18 and how exciting and enthralling it felt to be ‘loved’ by a man. There isn’t much that can compete with the validation you get, especially in those early love bombing stages where you see all the red flags like jealousy and domination as signs of love. Building a safe and supportive relationship that nourishes her self-esteem will help her to be less reliant on validation from unhealthy sources and will provide her with a space to talk if she ever needs to. You could also suggest that she sits down to watch Murdered By My Boyfriend on BBC iPlayer and The Kidnapping of Angel Lynn on Ch4 On Demand. Both show powerful and relatable warnings of how serious things can get.

Ultimately, she’ll have to let her make her own mistakes. This is parenting; it’s the most anxiety provoking feeling. Wanting to protect your child from the catastrophic mistake they’re about to make is a primal instinct, but as those of us who have lived a few decades all know, the greatest teacher is experience. There will be hundreds of people telling you how they were in this situation as a teen, and they regret it but they’re OK now. Give it a few years and this 18-year-old will be a 26-year-old woman and she’ll be saying: “I’ve been through this, and I should have listened to my mum, but I got there in the end.” We live and learn; all your friend can do is be there for her.


  • Click here for today's top showbiz news

  • ‘My fiancé comments on my weight and wants me to be thinner – I don’t know what to do’

  • 'I have a good career and great friends but my bad love life has shattered my confidence'

  • ‘My Tinder date made me pay for everything and now I’m scared he’s scamming me’

  • ‘The guy I’m sleeping with has a girlfriend – should I tell her he’s cheating?’

Source: Read Full Article