I'm in the UK, have one child, a daughter aged almost 17 and have recently discovered that she has been indulging in behaviour that I could never have imagined (cyber-sex and even perverted real sex with strangers). She seems to have been offering herself around to guys on the internet who live in the area.
I never suspected a thing, as she seems so sensible, only goes out with friends once a week and always rings to let me know if she will be half an hour late home from school etc. I thought she was such a great, loving daughter. She comes from a good Christian home, has been given total love and attention. Her dad and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary next year, so she has had a stable upbringing, gone to the best schools and had numerous opportunities and a great life. I've always talked to her about keeping herself safe and I've backed this up by always ensuring I knew who she was with and picking her and her friends up after their evening out, making sure everyone gets home safely. I've always stressed sex should be within a committed relationship (something she has not yet experienced).
I don't know how she could have done this (she has now admitted it after I ended up reading her diary - the last resort). She admitted bits as I suspected bits and pieces after I found out about the truancy and other lies, but every step of the way she tried to limit what I knew. I am still not sure if this is the full extent of the problem, as I feel I don't really know if she is the person I thought she was! It turned out she was skipping lessons at her school and doing all this. All the while I believed she was attending lessons. Her new school (since September 07) is more like a college and they expect kids to take responsibility for themselves, so I only found this out at the end of March, when I received her term report. Around Christmas I discovered that she was stealing money from me, which she used for presents. She gets a generous allowance and has a laptop, ipod (albeit an old one) and is on a mobile phone contract, which she doesn't have to pay for.
She promises not to do all this again and to work hard to get into university, but the proviso is that I have to trust her, otherwise there is no point, she says. She hints at suicide. Her dad says we have to try and get her on track for university but ultimately we've failed to keep her safe/on the right track and we cannot know if she will do this again. Now that she knows that we know, she may just get even better at hiding it. He has told her that this is her last chance and if she messes up, he will throw her out.
I am scared of what she will turn out to be. I'm afraid to stop pocket money in case she prostitutes herself for money - seemingly sex with just anyone does not disgust her in anyway. I waver between wanting to believe her, wanting my daughter back and feeling like I'm being manipulated. At the moment, we've just gone back to what we did before.
I'm so lost because this type of thing is so outside anything I have experienced. As you can imagine, I feel like the worst mother in the world - I can't even say she has been badly affected by divorce or anything like that. The only thing I can cling to is that she has dreadfully low self-esteem, despite being really beautiful and talented. She doesn't believe that she is. She is dyslexic and has ADD - no medication.
I tried ringing a couple of parenting lines here in the UK for help. They said that I should trust her now and support her efforts to reform and have said that I'm doing the only thing I can do.
My Out-of-Control Teen