Things to know

Regularly read by 50,000+ readers in over 140 countries around the world, "Dear Bro Jo" is published several times a month.

This is column is just one guy's opinion, and while he does his best to keep what he thinks, says and writes in-line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, "Dear Bro Jo" is not an LDS Church website. (And Sister Jo thinks you should know that he's sometimes wrong, and often way too opinionated for his own good.)

Nothing here is meant to take the place of talking with parents, leaders, or Church authorities. Please, if you need serious help, talk to a trusted adult, leader, and / or professional counselor.

Please like our Facebook page, and check it often for Discussions, Notes, Events and just General Good Stuff!

Everything here is copyrighted. If you're going to quote any part of anything here, please get Bro Jo's written permission. You can reach him at

Monday, November 18, 2013

When Your Daughter Picks a Bad Boyfriend

Aloha, Bro Jo!

I'd love to know your thoughts on avoiding a Romeo & Juliet situation; our dear 16-year old daughter now has a (bleah! do I have to say it?) "boyfriend" and "relationship."

Which, honestly, scares the unholy everything out of her father and me.

This New Guy has a number of highly undesirable characteristics. He's a 20-year-old BYU student.

He's absolutely not going on a mission. (Though he does attend Church, uphold standards, and is endowed--he's not completely horrible, or she would probably not be interested in him at all.) I don't know if it's bad or good, but New Guy is super-intelligent.

Good, I guess, in that it's good to be brainy and he's doing well in an exceptionally competitive major.

Bad because the smarter your adversary the harder it is to outwit him.

Also in the good-and-bad-at-the-same-time category is that he has a great job (a full-time internship in his field) therefore plenty of $ to spend dazzling our dear daughter.


The biggest scary one in the "things that make me go HUH???" category is that he and she have talked about getting married.

Actually, they talk about it quite a lot.

I would like to shout at her "YOU IDIOT!

You are sixteen years old! Are you kidding me?"

But of course that's unlikely to change her mindset.

So I keep working on pointing out the logistical difficulties of getting married as soon as she graduates from high school (which is what they're talking about doing) and/or having a long engagement making it increasingly unlikely that they'll be temple worthy, and/or being engaged and missing out on all the fun and play while she's still in school, and/or...every other downside I can possibly come up with.

My husband and I would like to simply forbid all contact with him, but that's not going to work.

She and he are smart enough and have the resources to figure out how to get together in spite of anything we say or do.

So my question is this: how would you advise us to make this relationship inconvenient and unpleasant enough that it will simply disappear?

Do you think there's a way to discourage them without having a rebound Romeo & Juliet effect?

Or is it best to just try to keep her talking to me and hope she will be able to figure out how insanely stupid this is before it's too late.

- Concerned Mom

Dear Mom,

Your Romeo & Juliet analogy is very apropos.

As you know, I'm "against" the whole Boyfriend-Girlfriend Thing until someone is old enough (i.e: marrying age) for it to matter . . . for all the reasons you mentioned, as well as all of the other ones we all know.

The problem is that once a child decides to be in "a relationship" a cautious parent can feel very stuck; you're afraid that any effort you make to separate them will only serve to drive a wedge between you and your child.

It's much worse than when your son or daughter picks a bad-influence new friend because the "relationship" comes with all of the hormones and emotions.

You don't want to drive her into his arms, and you don't want her to stop including you in what's going on in her life . . . so you back off and pray that everything works out okay.

That's a sound strategy, even if a Very Difficult One.

However, that's not to say that you do nothing . . .

And in this particular situation you have many, many tools at your disposal.

Let me elaborate:

1. Even though he's 20, she's only 16 and that means that you're still responsible, still calling the shots, and still establishing rules.

That means no hanging out, all dates must be Casual Group Dates, and she needs go out on dates with someone else every other date.

She's your minor child, and those are the rules. If she can't abide by the rules, then the consequences (previously laid out) come into play. She can certainly be grounded, and that may mean she doesn't leave the house for any kind of social event, including dates.

2. Even though she (and her creeper boyfriend - more on that later) thinks she's in an "adult relationship", she's not an adult, so she's expected to do all of that typical teen stuff.

That includes Prom, Homecoming, and Young Women's.

I'm sure there's a line of guys wanting to take her to the Prom, and Boyfriend or No if a Good Guy asks her, she needs to go.

No self-respecting 20-year old is going to go to the High School dance, and any opportunity we have to point out to the both of them how inappropriate their age difference is (and it really is), the better.

We don't say anything, we just provide ways that they'll discover it.

3. Talk to his Bishop.

No joke.

Look, I don't know how any 20-year old guy in the Church who's NOT going on a Mission has a Temple Recommend; the Church is big, so there's bound to be leadership that are Out Of Their Minds when it comes to some of the things they do, but I'll tell you this: the rule is (as in, it's in the book and covered in Stake President level Leadership Training) that Temple Recommends don't come with age, they come with a purpose, like a mission or marriage or a calling.

So even if you've actually seen this genius's TR, I can't figure out how or why anyone allowed a not-going-on-a-mission-not-married-20-year-old LDS Guy get endowed.

That tells me two things:  either A) someone is lying, or B) he WAS going to go on a mission or actually did . . . for a while.

Both are huge Red Flags.

But that's not what you talk to his Bishop about.

You talk to his Bishop about your concern that this MAN is a PREDATOR.

It's really quite simple: casually call and set an appointment, pray as a couple, and then in the man's office calmly tell him that this situation is freaking you out.

He's a man, she's a child, and that alone makes it wrong; his Bishop needs to know.

And ask him (heck, I'd like to know) just exactly how a 20-year old not-going-on-a-mission guy gets endowed.

He may not tell you, in fact he shouldn't, but it's worth asking because - if as I suspect he is a-lying about holding said recommend, the Bishop's reaction will tell you what's what.

4. Sit her down and have the talk.

You and she have a great relationship; while she IS a teen, she respects your opinion.

Don't yell (hard as that may be - it would be impossible for me) but express your concerns.

Keep it short, but specific.

Don't say anything negative about the guy, but focus on the situation.

Don't use accusatory words like "you", that will just make her defensive; instead use "I", as in: "I'm really having a tough time with this". Rather than "you shouldn't be talking about marriage at 16", say "I think talk about marriage is a dangerous thing".

Make sense?

5. Do lots of family stuff together . . . and, no, this guy can't be included.

Yes, it's good to have them at your house where you can keep an eye on them, and you always want your children's friends like they're welcome in your home, but he doesn't get to hang out.

It has to be an occasion, like a movie party with her friends. And find reasons for her to realize that sometime is just family time.

6. Talk to him. Without her.

Give him the "look, you're a nice guy (lie if you have to) and we like you (perhaps an even bigger lie) but the truth is, you're just too old right now to be dating our daughter" talk.

Be straight with him.

Tell him you know that you're not going to "forbid" them from seeing each other, although you could, and that you hope that at some point they'll figure out how wrong this is on their own, but that you want him to know that, like him or not, you A) don't approve, and B) think a 20-year old guy chasing a 16-year old little girl is creepy . . . a comment on his lack of maturity, and wrong.

Tell him you'll be nice to him for her sake, but that you neither trust nor respect him, and if he intends to have any type of long-term relationship with your daughter that you hope he's man enough to want to earn that respect.

Tell him that you think he should get over it, go date girls his own age, and when she turns 18 they can consider it again, but right now the timing is wrong.

Tell him that it's inappropriate to give her gifts (like I know he's been doing) and that it's borderline criminal. 

Don't allow him to interrupt or participate in the conversation; this is neither a discussion nor a debate; this is a parent telling a man that how he's treating her daughter is inappropriate.

(Like the previous conversation, this one should include both parents if possible.)

When it comes to your kids, you can't wait for Too Late.

If you miss the opportunity to do all you can, you may regret not having done it.

The key, Mom, is to be calm, rational, clear, and loving.

As I alluded, I think this guy is a Class A Predator Creep, but as her parents if you talk about or treat him that way, as you said, you may lose her.

Good luck.

I'm praying for you.

- Bro Jo


Anonymous said...

I don't want to defend this guy, he is a creep dating a 16 year old that is not appropriate at all. However I will say it is quite possible that he is endowed and has a temple recommend, some ways would be red flags, others not so much.
The first way that involves him not going on a mission is he just asked and the bishop and stake president agreed, if the guy said he had a prompting that he should get endowed that might have been purpose enough. Another option is he joined the military young and he was deployed being sent somewhere you could die is a valid reason to get endowed. The last reason may or may not be a red flag and that he may have been engaged to get married and it didn't happen, if that's the case the reason behind why the marriage didn't happen determines red flag status.
No matter the reason behind why he is endowed the action of dating a 16 year old who is 4 years younger says red flag. He should be encouraging her to follow the guidelines in the strength of youth and should be either preparing for a mission or dating a girl he could get married to after sufficient dating and courtship instead of dating one he has to wait to become legal and finish highschool.
The last thing I want to point out is the 20 year old is not a creep for being attracted to a 16 year old even if she is still a child she may very well have the body of an adult woman and it is natural for him to find her attractive she may also have other attractive things about her such as an amazing personality the problem is he is pursuing a course he knows is wrong if he is as worthy as he says he should be counseling with the Lord and I can't imagine the Lord saying follow a path that not only could lead you to breaking the law of chastity and the laws of the land but that will give you the appearance of a manipulative man preying on an impressionable child.
If this man wanted what's best for his girlfriend and still wanted to marry her and he's as worthy as he says he'd send in his mission papers go on a mission and hope that she doesn't find someone else to marry right out of highschool then he would try to date and court her when he gets home.

Anonymous said...

I feel that yes, this is an inappropriate age difference seeing that she is a minor and he's not, but I also don't agree that it's right to say that the leaders who gave him his temple recommend are out of their minds just because he didn't go on a mission. Do the parents know why he didn't go? What if he had some type of disability that inhibited him from going? Not all of the leaders in the church went on missions, yet they're endowed. Bottom line, everyone deserves a chance to have the blessings we're given in life, despite our mistakes. That's why the Atonement exists. Aside from that, I don't think the parents shouldn't be seeking advice from someone who gives advice to youth ( with all due respect), I think they should be praying to the One who can truly give them the help and direction they need. The bishop should be the next person they go to. Besides, what is the likelihood that she will still be with him all the way until she graduates? Many times, young hormonal girls change their minds about the guys they like once they meet someone better. It's tough as a parent to watch them make mistakes, but sometimes it's necessary to let them fall instead of drive a wedge between you. The only difference is that you're going to be there to lift them up without saying "I told you so". Just my two cents.

Arthur Lee said...

I can tell you that I went on a mission, got several slipped discs, and then went home after 15 months.

It actually kinda sucked at first when people were wondering why I was not on a mission at 20. Then, time went on and nobody cares. :v

I think the real problem is how did a 20-year-old BYU student found himself with a high school girl?

Bro Jo said...

Slipped disks are brutal.

I think what people might be missing is that this guy wasn't ON a mission and came home, he was 20, single, and had no intention of ever serving a mission.

And yet he was claiming to be a TR holder.

And you're right: just exactly how did they meet?

Bro Jp

BJ said...

Was there ever a follow up? Yikes. I need to read my scriptures and another book or something, this is too creepy to fall asleep on. >_<

Bro Jo said...

There is more to the story . . . not likely to get posted as a "Follow Up" or "Part 2".

Turns out that this guy was a liar about a lot of stuff. It's not clear if he liked to con people . . . or just wouldn't face reality. Maybe he just thought life was easier if he told people what he thought they wanted to hear.

And you may be happy to know that this Sister's daughter eventually figured all of this out and has long since moved on.

- Bro Jo

BJ said...

Hmm. I hope and pray he figures things out. And that's relieving for this sister. We all have our stories - I would know! She's part of the club now. ;) Thanks for the follow up.