21 answers

Teenage Daughter Sneaking Out

I just stumbled across some shocking (to me) information regarding my 14 year old daughter. She attended homecoming this past Saturday for the first time, then had two of her girl friends stay the night. Apparently, after my husband and I were asleep, she and her friends snuck into the backyard to meet a couple of boys behind our shed. This is the first time we know of our daughter has so blatently misused our trust. We are going to confront her, but it won't be for a couple of days due to our conflicting work schedules. I found this information by snooping on her facebook account. We don't intend to let her know how we found out, but to let her know her parents aren't the only ones who watch out for each others kids on the block. My question is, what do you consider appropriate punishment? Also, how to approach the conversation in an open way without making her so defensive she won't communicate. We plan to have the discussion out of the house, as my pre-teen son does not need to be involed in the discussion.

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you for all the advice. We took bits and pieces from everyone and feel we have done well. We took my daughter out for coffee to discuss the incident. We were upfront with her and told her we were aware of the incident. She didn't deny it, but rather asked, "How long am I grounded for?" We skipped that question and explained how disappointed we were that she had betrayed our trust and the trust of the other parents who allowed their daughters to stay at our house. We also discussed how her reputation could have a smear on it, as she could easily become known as the girl who sneaks out to meet with boys. We allowed her to tell us how the incident came about, who;s idea it was, how they arranged timing, etc. I was very proud of her as she took full responsiblity for her part. It may not have been her idea originally, but she facilitated the timing, etc. with her cell phone. I think the hardest part for her was when we told her she would have one day to let her friends know their parents would be receiving a phone call from myself or my husband to alert them. I do know she did tell all the kids, as I am facebook friends with all of them and I was able to read their posts as they waited for the phone calls. However, none of the kids told their parents before I did. It was a shock to most of them. The boy;s mother was very upset, as he did not sneak, he lied. He told her we were having an inside party and he was invited. She now knows I will call and let parents know if we are having a party for teens that lasts past midnight.
All the kids except one received some form of punishment, most lost their cell phones. Only one was able to convince her mother that she had learned her lesson and did not need punishment.
It was never intended for us to keep the incident from our son. We just did not feel he needed to be around for the initial con versation. We talked with him after our discussion with our daughter. Again, we were up front with him about what had happened and what the consequences were.
As for the rest, my daughter is currently without computer, very limited cell phone (calls/texts can only be made to mom, dad and grandma) and no sleep overs/social activities outside school and extracirricular activities. There is no set time, as we told her she would have to earn our trust before the restrictions were lifted. However, over the past week she has been very accepting of her punishment and seems to be doing well. She will probably have some restrictions lifted within the next week.

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I disagree w/ letting her know how you found out. I think too many parents are way too concerened about their childrens privacy. First off, they are kids and imo, their only privacy should be in the bathroom. They can have their privacy when they start paying their own bills. I got caught sneeking out when I was 14 and my mom spanked me in front of all my friends. it was a little embarassing, and I knew my mom was always watching me, so I wasn't able to sneak out very often(still did it occasionally though). Also she always stayed up til 2:00 a.m. which made it really difficult too. Maybe if you do talk to her in front of her brother, and give her a hard enough punishment, it will make him think twice about doing that before he does something like that.

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I agree with Sue H. Do not let her know you've seen her facebook page or she will stop posting on it or set up a different account and only show you the one that show's she's an angel.
Have a discussion that you know about the sneak-out. She will get defensive. Take away her phone for a week. She will flip-out but tough. If she's sneaking out now and testing the boundaries, it will only get worse at 15, 16, etc. Teenagers lie. They just do. Keep open communication. Tell her you trust her but must inspect her. It's for her own good. And remember, "those who host, lose the most".

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I disagree w/ letting her know how you found out. I think too many parents are way too concerened about their childrens privacy. First off, they are kids and imo, their only privacy should be in the bathroom. They can have their privacy when they start paying their own bills. I got caught sneeking out when I was 14 and my mom spanked me in front of all my friends. it was a little embarassing, and I knew my mom was always watching me, so I wasn't able to sneak out very often(still did it occasionally though). Also she always stayed up til 2:00 a.m. which made it really difficult too. Maybe if you do talk to her in front of her brother, and give her a hard enough punishment, it will make him think twice about doing that before he does something like that.

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As a serial "sneaker-outer" in my teen years (I an now 36 yrs old), I recommend keeping your knowledge to yourself. Then trap her. Really.

I promise you that since she thinks she got away with it, her house will become known as the house to spend the night and sneak out. Next time she has friends over to stay the night, you need to stay up and listen for them. You want to catch them in front of their friends. She must be embarrassed enough by the situation that she will not risk this kind of embarrassment again. You should have curlers in your hair and a blue mask on your face. You also must call her friends parents. I am sure you do not want a call in a couple of weeks from someone else's parents informing you that their kid said they sneak out of your house.

I really don't think you should try to have an adult conversation with her as though she is an employee who has abused your sick day policy. She is not an adult.

Kids sneaking out in the middle of the night will eventually do things that you don't want them doing and possibly get hurt.

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One thing that struck a chord in me was that you said you were 'snooping' on her FB account. I think if you really want to handle this properly, you'll set her down and talk to her about what she did that night, ask her to be honest, and if she asks how you found her out, you BE HONEST right back with her.
I think it would be a good idea to then have a talk w/ your son about what his sister did (The sneeking out part), that she was caught, and this is her punishment. Filling him in on what happened would give him something to think about...like man! My parents are smart! Or Boy! My sister is dumb!
And back to you sneeking.....
My son is on FB, and so am I. And we are FRIENDS on FB, so what he posts I can see, and vice versa. Being dishonest and sneeky will backfire in the long run, and will not get you what you want.
As for a proper punishment for her, how 'bout no more sleepovers for a while?

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Hi L.,

I'm sure you will get much better advise but I have a couple of thoughts. As an FYI we have a 19 year old son and a daughter that just turned 15 so I can at least related to the age.
I agree with not letting her know you found out on Facebook. Our son has had a couple of questionable things on his facebook page but nothing horribly obnoxious. We didn't address it because it is a window into his world.
I also agree with letting her think that there is a whole network of parents watching her. Both of my kids live in fear of the "mommy grapevine."
But I personally disagree with not letting your pre-teen know what's going on for a variety of reasons. 1. IF they are close as siblings at all, your daughter will tell him her version of the events and he won't know the true story. Plus 2. I think it's good for a sibling to hear the discussion and see the consequences of the behavior and hopefully they won't make the same mistake.
I don't have any good thoughts for punishment. . .but it should be relevant and meaningful to her. *Our daughter got in trouble by YELLING at her dad via text/cell phone. We took her phone away because she was using it as a tool to speak to her dad in such a way that she would have never done if she was standing right in front of him!

Good Luck!

L. K

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Use Love and Logic with her. Not sure I'd have a "conversation" with her first. Just wait for the first opportunity that she asks to do something and reply matter of fact that "No, you can't do that because you can't be trusted after you snuck out after homecoming." It'll catch her off guard and she'll have nothing to do but think about it and wonder how you know. And how long you've known. Read up on the Love and Logic books and be prepared with short to the point statements that she can't argue with.

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*Smiling* Good Morning L., Our boys 12 & 14 at the time did the same thing. They weren't meeting girls though they were leaving the yard and walking around our small town meeting up with their buds. I found out they were gone and woke my hubby. We got lawn chairs and sat in the back yard until they came home. BOY were they ever surprised. They lost a lot of privileges.
We also nailed the window shut for a while. Was one of those little basement casement windows. How our oldest got his hinny out of there is beyond me.

What kids do behind our backs is a given to a certain extent. We want them safe, and to have a safe place to go.
I put up a sign on our doors that said "NO Escape Zone"
If you want to leave the house for any reason you come and ask FIRST! If it is beyond Curfew the Answer is NO so forget it.
Yeah they Tried it again 5 yrs later, the first night we moved to TX. Silly guys tried climbing out of the Apartment complex window. Well The security guard caught them half in and half out the window. OH Boy that did not go over well. That was the last time they ever did it again.

My Mom always told me no matter what you do, I will find out about it. Scared me Silly!!

You can tell her you are very disappointed in her behavior. Ask her what she would of done if something terrible happened to her or one of her friends? What if more then the boys they were wanting to see was out there also?
The boys they were meeting might of been harmless but if someone else was with them you never know what could of happened with just a little nudge or suggestion.
Her & her friends safety and reputation could of been destroyed by their actions. They could became labeled as Easy or loose. Kids do talk and what may of been innocent them, can turn into something horrible. It is hard to live down rumors, kids are some of the worst rumor-mongers. They can add to a story in a heart beat.

God Bless you L., speak to her soon and get it out on the table. Until she is of an age of maturity and uses her actions vrs consequences SHE is under your roof, you make the rules. Her privacy is not her own.

K. Nana of 5

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My daughter snuck out when she was 15. I grounded her for a month, took away her phone and didn't let her go anywhere. She thought the phone was the worst punishment! She begged and begged. I didn't give in either. For a while to girls friends/boyfriend are the most important things in the world. It took away communication from them for a while.

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I wouldn't let her know that you know or found out.

I was a teen that used to sneak out as well.

If I was in your shoes, looking back at myself as a teen, I would recomend having a talk with her about trust, and honesty... bring up some scriptures or moral stories about honesty and trust being broken and consequences. Also explain that even when she feels the need to break your trust, God always knows where she is and what she's doing, and he is always judging her moral standards and judging the type of person she is.

After having a long talk with her, and telling her that everyone makes mistakes, and you always will forgive her and listen and be there for her when she does make mistakes... after that then I would ask her if there is anything she wants to tell you.

If she says no, ask her if there is anything she wants to confess about that night after she thought you were sleeping. Hint that you know without telling her you know. After she tells you what she did, DONT punish that won't do anything for her if she's how I was, it will make her rebel behind your back even more. At this point in her life you want to respect her decisions as a young adult, not treat her as a child.

Tell her that next time a few boys want to come over, to wake you up and let you know what's going on. If I was you, I would join in on the get together. This age group needs to be around adults who care about them and respect them as young adults. They will be less likely to rebel with responsible adult friends.

Let her know that if you ever woke up and she was missing, you would call the police and file a missing person report and have them looking for her, and that you would expect her to do the same if you were missing! Tell her she is becoming an adult now and that comes with making responsible decisions.

If you don't have a facebook, make one and add her as a top friend! Don't be her worst enemy, or she will rebel more and more.

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I agree with Sue H. Do not let her know you've seen her facebook page or she will stop posting on it or set up a different account and only show you the one that show's she's an angel.
Have a discussion that you know about the sneak-out. She will get defensive. Take away her phone for a week. She will flip-out but tough. If she's sneaking out now and testing the boundaries, it will only get worse at 15, 16, etc. Teenagers lie. They just do. Keep open communication. Tell her you trust her but must inspect her. It's for her own good. And remember, "those who host, lose the most".

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wow....good answers posted here today!

I too have been there/done that...our oldest is 22 & we live in a small town. I always told him that no matter what he does....I will find out-simply because everybody here is in Everybody's business (as he says). My take on it is that we are all working together to raise our children!

So here are my thoughts: don't keep this from your son. This provides a huge learning opportunity for him! It will put the fear into him, & at some point- your daughter is going to say something to him anyway. Be proactive on this.
That way he won't have the chance to say "quit treating me like a baby" "I'm a part of this family too" "but she's my sister"....

Don't let her know that you check her Facebook account. She'll either stop posting there OR setup an account secure from you. Don't send her into subterfuge.

Don't open the conversation with an opportunity for her to hang herself, to lie to you, or to blame anyone else. Be direct & simply say, "we want to talk to you about sneaking out of the house the other night". Don't ask her if she did it....clearly state the charge....& don't ask her "why"! We all know why she did it. Make this a discusssion where you are in charge at ALL times, these are our rules, you broke them, & this is what is going to happen.

As for the punishment, one thing that worked for us ...was telling our son what we knew....& then asking him to gather his friends. Then we talked to the group, requested that they talk to their parents & confess, & then also requested the parents to call us....so that we could apologize for this happening on our watch. With living in a small town, the boys were together regularly- without the need for parents to transport back/forth - so this was an easy process to get the kids together.

The boys hated that we knew, hated that we confronted them, hated that we "made" them confess to their parents, & most surprising....felt that we had betrayed them & that they couldn't trust us!! Can you believe it?? OMGosh, they were mad at us for busting them!!! My answer to that was "too bad, too sad...we're the parents, we're doing our job". 7 years later, I'm still trying to figure that one out!

OK, so that's "how" we did it. & punishment was quite simply taking away unsupervised privileges for 2 weeks. Contact with friends was only at school & that's it. It was a miserable time period for all of us. & I don't think it was very effective, but it did set a standard for how things would go if our trust was broken again. It also let the other parents know that we would not keep secrets, & some went along with us....& others did not. We actually had one Mom who thought we were making too big a deal out of it, thought it was a shame that we were breaking the kids' trust in us, & .....from that point on, we knew that we couldn't trust her for any parental supervision!

Good luck & stay in charge!

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Man, L., I feel for you. Im 26, and for some reason those days for me feel like yesturday! Watch this one! I did it too, and I was BAD! I think coming down too hard on her might backfire. I was ALWAYS grounded when I was a teenager, It felt like I was grounded for two whole years. Which caused me to sneak out and treat school as social hour because that was the only socializing I got. I would ground her, maybe from something she is looking forward to and then move on. Let her know that you are very disapointed in her and you want to trust her but she let you down. Then let it go, and watch her closely!! I think if you keep a positive relationship with her, and always give her guidance, she will be less likely to want to dissapoint you. My parents were always so negative towards me, so I got to the point where I didnt care what they thought. Thats the only things I can think of to help you. Good luck!!!

L.,
Just so you don't feel alone I think there is a real issue with this type of thing for lots of us. I have been dealing with it for some time with my kids and I have a daughter who isn't quite 14, son who is 16 and older girls also. My kids are just out walking around, going to Wal-Mart,etc. I have spoken with Leawood and Overland Park police and they know there is a problem but there is no curfew, I understand though if they are out with boys... Who knows if my kids tell me the truth though. I have tried to make my kids understand the dangers and just the fact that we don't approve of them doing it so it is disobedience but nothing seems to get through so if you have any helpful ideas, please pass them on! There has to be some solution.

My daughter knows that if she wants email or a facebook page I will be monitoring both, and that no personal information will be posted. She would tell where she got the info as a lesson on why not to post questionable information. She suggests loss of friends, phone and computer. Myself, I'd also notify the other parents so that they can hopefully deal with their kids before they do get in over their heads...Even if she is just posting that she snuck out to look cool and it didn't happen, reacting as if it did and making it sufficiently painful and embarassing should make her think twice! When we had problems with my nephew doing the same thing and cutting class, he suddenly had an aunt attached to his hip 24/7 for the next 2 weeks - literallly! Good luck - please keep us posted!

It's my understanding that there is a way for parents to openly monitor Facebook pages... don't know how, I've just been told that. I would do it. Tell her exactly what you're doing and how you found out. Let her know that you will find out what she's doing no matter what...that you have your ways (and every time you find something out, be sure to tell her). I agree with the others about nailing windows shut (a good one) and appropriate punishment. Your daughter is not too young for you to begin making a big impression on her regarding sex, either. You'll know when the time is right for that, though. I told both of my kids (boy and girl) that I did not approve of them having sex, and that I would not be (A) paying for any abortions, or (B) raising any grandkids. I told my son that the kinds of girls he was dating were perfectly capable of "trapping" him, and then I repeated the above. My daughter, who was always looking out for her brother, even told all of his girlfriends what I had told them. Your daughter may "hate" you in the short run, but in the long run, she will thank you. Our kids did.

I'm not sure I have much advice for you - but I was once a teenager that snuck out of the house quite often (I am now 39). I'm not sure anything that you say will not make her defensive - that's just the way teens are. I'm sure she knows that she did the wrong thing and will feel badly that she was caught. Grounding from events and friends would be a good punishment. Good luck.

My suggestion is to let her know you want to set an appointment with her for X day to discuss her sneaking out would X day and time be acceptable to her? Let her know that you can't possibly talk about it before as you and dad have agreed that this needs to be a meeting with both of you present so you prefer that she not discuss this with her brother. Ask her to think about what she has done and provide some suggestions for an appropriate punishment. This is a form of Love and Logic... yes, it will prepare her but part of the punishment is letting her know she's been caught and that it's not a time that is convenient to you and let her know she is not skating off on this. You might be surprised at the punishments she'll come up with...chances are they will be more strict than you would have imposed or may even be along the same lines.

I agree with the poster who said not to tip your hand about Facebook...much as I hate that medium, kids today don't THINK about what they post as actually being read outside their circle of friends...so at least keeping that ace in the hole will give you a clear vantage point as to what is going on...just beware in how else you use it...you might say that you got a call from a neighbor that saw the girls in the back yard or heard them (if that is possible) but remember, you in NO WAY need to justify HOW you know...just that you know, have found out and are prepared to deal with it.

Kudos to you for thinking ahead and having the conversation out of the house away from your pre-teen. I would however, encourage you to be somewhere more private so if a melt down occurs you aren't drawing attention (which may be a tactic all in of itself - ie. public embarassment for you). As for appropriate punishment that's kinda up to you...everyone is different. Although the act is grevious it's not the worst (at least she stayed on your property). I would consider 2 weeks w/o privledges (including phone, computer (nothing outside of homework), television, ipod/stereo, etc.) to be sufficient with curfew. It should be enough of a wake up call...who knows...maybe she'll come up with an even better punishment for herself??? Best of luck and let us know what happened!

So she is the one misusing trust? and you, by snooping in her private information, isnt misusing trust? her trust? did you ever think that maybe she is acting out because she feels you do not trust her at all and that there is no point in trying to keep your trust because it was obviously never there.
I'll be honest, I am an 18 year old girl. My mother never trusted me. ever. I never had a chance even though I never gave her a reason not to. I was actually a good kid, I was on honor roll, played soccer, was always home on time and she always knew where I was, etc. I was perfect. but still, she didnt trust me.
Over time I became deeply, deeply depressed. I dont want to go into details here but I did something drastic because I couldnt stand it anymore.
I tried to live with my mother but the year I was depressed I aged a lot more than a year and I know many things now, I saw how my own mother would never trust me and we never got along, I realized that she really had no control over me and I did whatever I wanted and then I DID start to get involved in bad things.
I ended up moving in with my dad because I couldn't stand the fact that she didnt trust me. My dad trusted me completely, it was something I had never experienced before, and I didnt ever want to let my dad down so I always told him the truth and I always did what was right. I respected him so much. After a few months, I eventually moved back in with my mom but only on the terms that she would trust me and I would respect her. My mother and I now have a great relationship, but it took several years of nastiness, that was totally unnecessary, if she only trusted me in the first place.
so, please, I'm begging you, dont let your daughter become like me. the less you trust her, the more she will want to act out. You can avoid the years of struggle my mother and I went through. Just Stop, Believe and Trust.

you need to start out with if you want to be treated as a ore adult then you need to follow rules and guidlines we set or we will go back to treating you like a preteen. we want to be able trust you, however when you sneek out of the hous ein these days and times it is disrespecting us and very dangerous. let her know you will not allow this to continue. As she gets older and shows you can trust more privaleges will be added. Remain calm at all times, dont accuse unless you have facts. tell her all actions have consequences. maybe get her involved in your church youth group. They have the right stuff to help them understand and respect rules. Good luck and God bless.

As a teenage daughter who snuck out, I think your best bet is to tell her that you know. Do you know if they were having sex? Consider that possibility, even if she says they did not. Also consider that you don't know what she's been doing besides this one time.

When I was her age, I did not place any importance on the natural consequences of similar activities. My mother didn't stress them to me either, opting for a "free-er" parenting style. It didn't work well, so I suggest that you have a real, serious talk with her about how unpleasant it would be for her to be thought of as a slut, to get an STD, to get pregnant, etc., etc. Good luck.

It's your right to look at her facebook or whatever else she's putting out on the internet or texing in her phone if it's for her own protection.
I would keep it short, sweet and simple. Tell her you know she snuck out of the house with her friends and she's going to be grounded for a week with no phone, no friends and no privileges. You need not worry about her being defensive or upset because she will be no matter what you do. You're the parent and not her friend in this matter so she'll have to get over it. If you over talk it, she'll just tune you out so keep it to one sentence and make her aware that you will be watching more closely now. Regarding your son, let him know what's going on. My older sisters used to sneak out and when they got caught my parents didn't hide it from us younger kids. I never snuck out in my life because I had learned from their mistakes and I thought my parents were smarter than the FBI. lol. I recently heard a noise late at night in the living room and when I looked downstairs I saw my 16 yr old son about to walk out the front door, being all sneaky. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was just going to take a walk (at 2:00 in the morning). I told him he could walk around the basement and if I ever found him "missing" from his room at night that I'd be calling in a missing child report to the police. He believes me and I haven't had any trouble since. The other thing to do is to let her other friends know that you know about them too and if it happens again, you'll be forced to tell their parents. Good luck.

Sarah V has an interesting take. I never snuck out, so I am afraid I won't know what to do with our daughter if/when that time comes. I think one thing that might have been a factor was that her friends stayed over. If your daughter is usually trustworthy, could it be that her friends were the ones who called the boys? Not to say your daughter is innocent, but maybe part of your discussion should be about the kinds of friends she has. Love and Logic has some really good advice about how to let your child know you are there to support them while giving them the strength to make tough decisions. You telling her she can't do something won't be as effective as her deciding on her own what the best choices are. Best of luck and God bless!

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