I just caught my 14 year old daughter with sexually explicit text messages in exchange with a boy who is a classmate of hers (no photos). She's a wonderful girl - straight A honor student, athlete, student council, church youth activity, etc. I don't check her phone all the time - trust is important - but I had a sense something was wrong and when I checked, I was right. I went to her and told her I loved her and that I was worried about her and asked if she wanted to talk to me about anything or if I could help her with anything going on with her. She looked funny, said she was fine, and then I told her what I had found. Her first response was anger that I had accessed her phone without her permission. I am comfortable that I don't need to her permission for that or that this is not a violation of privacy since I am her parent and responsible for her well being. Despite my attempts to express love and concern, the conversation continued to degrade by her trying to justify the behavior based on how prevalent it is among her peers and that "this is not the worst of what kids are doing". I told her that didn't make it right and it didn't eliminate the possible bad outcomes of the behavior. She has threatened to go out and do "the worst" now, to quit her sport, to quit her honors classes, and has told me how much she hates me, everyone in this house, her whole life, the whole community, etc. She thinks she needs to move across the country to "start over". The actions that I took were to inform her father of what had happened (we are divorced and I am remarried with kids from my second marriage) and I also informed the parents of the boy whom she was sharing the messages. They were grateful and I believe he is likely a good boy too and I wanted each of us to be able to handle this issue with our own children without involving others for the sake of limiting embarrassment, etc. There is so much pressue for these kids with this kind of behavior. I took her phone and grounded her for two weeks from it and also from any purely social activities. Before she gets the phone back, she will have to agree to either drop the passlock or keep it but let me know what it is, and in addition, she will have to turn it in to me by 9:00 every night. She is still allowed to go to school related activities that she is involved in, including her sport. I think it's important to keep her involved with the healthy activities instead of taking those away in punishment. I think that most of her threats were just a lash out in anger that she had been caught and felt embarrassed and feels very pressured on the subject itself, but I am definitely having a lot of stress and worry that she might actually do some of it. Even if it was just quitting some of her activities, but I don't think she realizes that once she does those things, she's doing damage to the image that she is reliable and hard working - things she will need when applying to schools or jobs. She has described before the age-old darned if you do, darned if you don't. If you don't, you're a prude, if you do you're a whore. Rather than pick her path and stay true to it, she's playing that awful game of trying to be both - one person in front of one group and another person in front of another group. Things have been up and down between us throughout her childhood, mainly because of the divorce with her dad. He and I are doing pretty well as separate parents now, but it was rocky early on in our divorce and I know she keeps a lot of anger from that.
Anyway, I'm not doubting my rights, responsibilities or actions as a parent in this situation, but if anybody wanted to tell me if they think I've done the right things or tell me if I could have done something better or different, I'd love to hear it. I feel really bad and upset right now, mainly because I hoped she would be able to rise above this and also that I'm worried about what else might be going on that is a threat to her well being. Has anybody else been here on this subject and how have you handled it? What do you think the chances are she will go ahead with any of her threats and nuke some good things she has going? I tried to tell her that there was no reason for quitting everything. No one knows about this except, the two of them, her parents and his parents. No teachers, school administrators, coaches, law enforcement, etc. If she starts quitting things, then people will wonder what's going on and she will bring a whole bunch of rain on herself for that.
Thanks for any positive vibes parents - I need them right now!