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Oh, boy...here we go. Advice for a pre-teen who got involved in unethical texting.

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I have such an ironic story to tell you all!  Last week a few parents and I got together as a new group for parents to address issues facing pre-teens. At this very party the kids played truth or dare. I knew about some of it first hand from my DC and it sounded innocent enough to me so I didn't think too much about it. 


Fast forward to today...


I ran into another parent (not at the party) who told me that her daughter received some texts that night from the phone belonging to a boy at the party. Her story is that the my daughter and another girl at the party texted a message to her daughter from the boy's phone asking if this girl would be this boy's girlfriend.  The mom feels as though this was done as a joke and the child was hurt. 


This is as much information as I have right now because I can't reach the mother of the boy whose phone was supposedly used my my daughter. I also can't yet talk to my child because she's at school. So, you're hearing an unfolding story. 


Here's where we are in terms of what sort of advice we've given DC that relates to this issue:


1. I have advised DC that it is not her business to be involved in encouraging any sort of romantic relationships. She knows that she would not want that done to her. Unfortunately, that conversation has not come up in a while so my DC may need a refresher. 


2. DC does not yet have a phone where she can text freely so we are a bit behind, (obviously!) with advising her about texting. I'm very disappointed to hear that she may have texted pretending to be someone else. That is the worst thing about this as far as I'm concerned. I don't know how accurate this is but it's my biggest concern for now. Fortunately it is an easy enough fix - avoid texting from other people's phones and if you ever need to be sure to sign your name. Does that sound about right? Any other things to consider? 


3. The issue of whether this was a joke.  This I just don't understand. I don't think it's funny and I don't think my DC would think it was funny. I have a feeling that for this part of the picture my DC may be being dragged into another kid or family's issue. I wonder if maybe the boy wanted to send the texts but was embarrassed and said it was a joke...?  I just don't know. 


4. DC has had a pretty decent education about sexual bullying. So, at least some of the issues will be easy enough for me to convey to my DC by reframing them in a way that allows her to see the bigger picture. 


What do you all think about this? WWYD?  

post #2 of 9

Well, the thing to remember is that really, any child is capable of this stuff. They really don't think. They act on impulse. They get swept into group mentality and what is fun at the moment. Any parent that thinks their tween/teen girl has never done something callous or rude hasn't spent enough time with tween/teen girls. The way I see it, as a parent, you are lucky to get wind of it and able to discipline your child.... seems in most cases, that's enough. The worst cases we've seen are the kids whose parents always take their side and just won't even consider that it might be true. Those kids just keep going with it.


I've been there. I remember the day I got a call from a mom because my 13-year-old daughter had said something snarky to her son. I knew this boy was obnoxious but I never would have guessed my DD would say something like that. We talked and she admitted it. DD had to apologize which was mortifying in itself. If there were issues after that, we didn't hear about them but I like to think the experience made her "think twice" about her actions. 


So, talk to your daughter. Give her a chance to explain. If she denies, well, there isn't much proof and she could be telling the truth but it would still be a good idea to talk about how something like that would hurt another kid.

post #3 of 9

She knew what happened, didn't put a stop to it, and lied about it. Rather than making up stories in your head about how this couldn't possible be her fault, I would deal with What Is.


Right now, your daughter doesn't understand how very, very cruel this behavior is. She doesn't understand that laughing at other people is morally wrong. She also doesn't feel the need to be honest with you about what she is doing with her peers.


You asked WWYD, and the first thing I would do is accept that my kid screwed up big time, and that they were aware that what they did was wrong.  Your daughter doesn't need your advice. She needs your indignation.


After all, if she thought that was acceptable behavior, you would have heard about from her, not the parent of a hurt child. She knows it is wrong, but she did it anyway.

post #4 of 9

I agree she most likely knew what she was doing and what the result would be. It is easy to get caught up in the crowd but still the damage is pretty bad. I would give her some choices of punishment and seriously consider the contact she has with this guy and anyone else who supported her or drug her into it.

post #5 of 9
Now, wait a minute... We don't have a clue what the daughter's side of the story, whether she lied to her Mom or not. OP was written before Mom had spoken to her.

I'd bet this was part of them playing Truth or Dare. Maybe we should see what kiddo had to say before accusing her of all sorts of stuff. (and I tend to be pretty hard on my kids - but only when I have ALL of the info!)
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi, Everybody!  Thanks so much for your feedback. I got WNM's response right away and before I talked to my DC and the other parents. WNM, that was helpful to hear - thank you. Mtigr, thank you too!  It's hard to ask for feedback sometimes on MDC because the urge to fill in the blanks in order to form an opinion is so strong. I get it but did say that this was an unfolding story.  


I have an interesting update...


My DC did not send any texts.  My own DC was at school all day the day of I found out about all of this so I didn't get a chance to speak with her until 6pm. 


Before that I had a chance to speak with the mother of the boy with the phone. It was a long conversation and confused because part of it was this mother asking her son questions and telling me what he said and another big portion of the information I got seemed filtered through the mother's point of view. What I was told is that my own DC had nothing to do with all of this. I was also told that in no way whatsoever was this meant to be mean. 


According to my DC this boy "likes" the girl who was texted and the "dare" was for him to tell her how he feels. My DC is not sure who typed the text into the phone. 


So...where was my DC involved in this?  


Well, she was at this party. So there's that. But, why did the mother of the girl who got the texts thing my DC was intimately involved? Well, first, I will say that the parents of the kids involved can tend towards the gossip. I probably should have factored that into all of this before I even allowed myself to speculate. But, further, my DC did send her daughter a text the next morning asking her if she had gotten the text from the boy. According to my DC the boy asked her if she would ask the girl if she had gotten the text. My DC says she thought he was very nervous at having asked the girl to be his girlfriend.  


In the conversation my DC remarked, "Mom, don't you remember I told you about this?"  She and her friend told me about the truth or dare and, according to my DC, about the text as well but it didn't register as a big deal to me at the time. I think I should have realized that they were texting a girl not at the party and spoken to them then. Part of the problem here is that our family is slightly out of step with the majority of our community when it comes to cell phone allowances. I don't think my definition of what is "ok" always fits with the rest of people. For instance, I wouldn't allow kids to text at a party at all if it were my choice. This will be another topic at the parent meeting for sure. 


The issue of the joke... 


The very hurtful thing for this little girl was that the boy told her this was a joke. According to my DC he planned to tell her it was a joke if the little girl didn't say "yes". I have talked to my DC about this. I think this is a pretty immature way to deal with the anxiety and nervousness a child feels when taking these steps for the first time. That said, this is not really my business. I did tell the mother of the receiving text girl and phone boy that this was my DC's read on the situation. I think this is on them to deal with according to their family values. The two families are VERY close (I think the mothers are BFFs and the two kids have been BFFs for like 8 years!). 


Where do we stand as a family and in relationship with the other families involved?  


  • I will admit that I am worried about this community of kids being so interested and involved in the budding relationships of their friends.  This is something that I have spoken with my DC about before. The draw, it seems to me, is super strong and in a lot of these kids. I have talked to DC about this again but think I need to do some research and talk to other parents about how developmental all of this is. Input about this would be appreciated. I have also suggested this (as well as texting behavior as the topic of our next teen parent meeting). 
  • I have reached out to the mom of the girl with the phone via email twice now. I also included the mom of the boy with the phone in the interest of reducing gossip. I shared with her my DC's side of the story and the intel from the boy. I told her the measures we've taken with DC in terms of preventing this from happening again. I have told her that even if DC did not send the text that I consider her part of the event because she was at the party. I have told her that I will work with DC on the issue of being curious and involved in peer relationships and will help DC where that line crosses over to gossip and peer-pressure. I have asked twice how she thinks we can help her DC feel better. Aside from a brief "thank you for taking my concerns seriously" I haven't heard more from this mom. I will admit to a bit of frustration that there was time to speculate and accuse without much information but not time to communicate openly & deeply or brainstorm solutions. Sigh...that is part of my extended community at times, unfortunately. :eyesroll
  • I spoke with the mom whose daughter was more closely involved in the text/dare. I am letting them handle that - they are a lovely family (and an absolutely lovely child!). I'm sure they are taking this seriously. I got a nice lengthy email back from the mom and it is clear that she is taking this very seriously. 


With my DC: 


  • I have spoken to her about texting. Although she did not text on someone else's phone we had a good and very clear talk about using other people's phones. She has been told to never allow someone to text from her phone and vice versa. Only...  I think texting from someone else's phone is something that is understandable in certain circumstances. I know my DC has done it from my phone for me while driving. I think my DC understands the difference but I have told her to always sign her name if she is using someone's phone for a quick message. 
  • I have spoken to her about getting involved in her friend's relationships. Sigh... this seemed easier last year. At this point, I don't think I can tell DC that she needs to just not be involved at all in her friend's relationships. They LOVE to talk about this stuff. They talk about it with me, with eachother. I think it's part of learning about all of this. I simply don't quite know what to do about this. I guess it has to do with helping DC see the lines. I mean, talking to a friend about a crush seems fine, right? But, that can lead to helping a friend brainstorm about what to do about the crush. Which can lead to talking to a friend about what she/he should do...and that can lead to encouraging certain behaviors. From my observations, this happens very easily and the lines are hard to see. That's in part why I think some of this is good and can see the developmental value of all of this early stuff but also why it is so incredibly frustrating and difficult to offer guidance. 
  • In terms of texing/phone allowances. Ironically, my DC got her phone the weekend of this party (she had one before but she had something like 1.6 minutes/day so she never used it socially). We already had in place a rule where she needs to charge her phone downstairs at night. I rarely see her texting away. I did see her texting that AM and noticed that it was related to the topic we're discussing but it was all pretty innocent so I didn't think much of it. For stuff that I worry about in terms of technology what works well for DC is to make life so interesting the draw to text for entertainment is just not as strong. I think I'll focus on that if I see her texting a lot. I'd love to hear how other parents deal with texting rules. 




That's where we stand right now. 


Thanks to everyone for your help!  

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

I wanted to also say that we aren't a big punishment family. That said, when my DC came home the day I found out about this she was greeted with a note where she keeps her phone that said, "I have taken your phone because I realized that have not spoken to you about some things you need to know about in order to keep you and your friends safe."  :D 

post #8 of 9

I've discouraged my kids from EVER playing Truth or Dare. The whole point of truth or dare is disclose information that one prefers to keep private, or engage in behavior that goes against one's better judgment. Refusing to do so makes one the "loser". It's very emotionally unhealthy and uses a mob mentally to force kids to engage in behavior they do not want to. Your DD, by playing the game, was part of the problem. The boy felt social pressure to do something he wasn't ready for, so he later lied.


One of the things you could explain to your DD is that part of the reason to avoid all of this nonsense is because of exactly the kind of fallout that happened: all this drama, the moms all talking and dissecting it, you discussing with everyone what her exact role was and how culpable she is for the hurt feelings. We aren't a big punishment family either, and I'm not advocating punishing your DD, just being honest with yourself that she was involved in something that she shouldn't have been, and that she can learn from this experience.


Rather than getting worked up over what rules other parents have texting, which is something that you have zero control over, I suggest finding something for the kids to do. They have too much time on their hands. They need to take up super mario carts or something.


I would also stress to your DD the importance of not engaging in ANY games where people have to do things they don't want to. "Truth or dare" is in the same group as kissing games and drinking games. This is just a path for problems. She *could* chose to encourage her friends to become the best versions of themselves, or she can make it into a game for them to do things they know aren't right or that they aren't ready for. Many, many teems are on the second path. If my statements seem harsh, its because I where this behavior goes in highschool. If this is what the other kids are like and they are unwilling to hang out in more positive ways, she needs new friends. That group is on a collision course.


I also think that this can serve as a wake up call for you. We don't have rules about texting (other than not at night) but if my child used the words "truth or dare" and "texting" in the same sentence, I would FREAK OUT. There is no way that is innocent; it was meant to screw with some other kid's head.

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post



I also think that this can serve as a wake up call for you. We don't have rules about texting (other than not at night) but if my child used the words "truth or dare" and "texting" in the same sentence, I would FREAK OUT. There is no way that is innocent; it was meant to screw with some other kid's head.

Yea, I tend to agree with you about the words "truth or dare and texting". Learning  from this experience, I think my ears will pop up a bit better about this sort of thing now. I disagree with you on your assumption that this was about screwing with another kids head. But, you're free to think what you want about that (and my kid or her friends). 


I posted a spin off about the topic of pre-teens and friend relationships if any one wants to talk about this issue in a more general way. 

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Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Preteens and Teens › Oh, boy...here we go. Advice for a pre-teen who got involved in unethical texting.