Teenage Daughter Seeking Male Attention

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    Hi All,
    I love the Tiny Buddha forums & blogs and am just needing tips on how to deal with my 16 year old daughter.

    I should point out that my daughter is really a very good kid. We’ve had no issues with drugs, alcohol, skipping school etc. She’s very studious & sporty and isn’t in a group of friends that have late night parties or wear inappropriate outfits. She’s intelligent, kind, humorous and just a beautiful soul.

    I’m a single mother & her father hasn’t been involved nearly as much as either myself or my daughter would’ve liked, despite him being in the same town. This has caused great angst for her.

    She has a boyfriend, who’s actually a great kid, even though I’d prefer her to not have a BF I accept this is part of growing up. I’m 99% she’s not sexually active.

    The issue is that even though she has a BF she still texts or contacts other boys, as in 4 or 5 others, not overtly bad stuff but asking if they like her more than friends etc. I only recently found this out & spoke to her about how inappropriate it was, particularly given she has a BF. I found out that she has been doing this again & raised it with her. This is where she broke down in tears, saying she knows it’s wrong, she feels worthless & unhappy but that getting male attention “makes me feel better”.

    There’s obviously a bit more to this but that’s it in a nutshell. So my question is how do I keep her happy & increase her self worth so that she doesn’t need the approval of boys/men to make her feel ‘worthy’. I should also note that she plays sports & I encourage her to keep healthy & active, which I thought could’ve prevented her from feeling so invaluable.

    I love her to bits & hate seeing this. I also feel I’ve failed her as a mother.

    Thanks in advance.


    Hi Bunny,

    I see myself in your daughter. The only difference was, I didn’t even know I was doing it, much less why! This is a totally normal, human reaction to an absent parent.

    You are not a failure ~ you are not done raising her!

    This is what my mother ~ the best of mothers ~ did: She sent me away for the summer to visit extended family. New people, new places, new experiences.

    This is what I did when one of my sons got in trouble ~ I limited his money and his time. Keep Them Busy!! Use the perfect built in pretext of getting ready for college applications. You need to visit colleges (weekends away with mom), she needs to improve her SAT scores (SAT classes = Saturday AMs busy), she needs to get leadership skills (running a club, going on a church relief trip, joining National Charity League, or becoming a National Merit Scholar), and getting a part-time job (someone has to help pay for all this!)

    Tell her that no one has time for relationships Junior/Senior year. It’s time to get ready to get down to the business of growing up. She will probably still be boy/man crazy and have Daddy Issues ~ but tell her to act on it in college ~ at least she’ll be an adult.

    • This reply was modified 9 years, 8 months ago by Inky.

    Hi Bunny,

    I don’t think I totally agree with Inky.

    It’s like ignoring the problem until she’s hold enough to slut around and get taken advantage of when she’s older, which to me sounds very counter productive?

    I think it’s very very good that you spoke so openly about why its inappropriate to act like that with guys when she has a boyfriend, and that she understood that it was wrong and you have both established that she does it to make her feel better about herself.

    For one you really can’t blame yourself at all. Millions of people suffer with lack of confidence or psychological illnesses, and of course it is evolutionary and natural that receiving attention and compliments from people of the other sex helps to make one feel better.

    Undoubtedly a lot of the confidence and self worth problems would come from her jackass of a father (sorry for judging). I think it’d be very important for you both to speak to a councillor, or do some reading on self worth and dealing with these horrible and unwarranted emotions that have stemmed from matters outside of your control.

    The more talking the better. Your daughter needs to understand that the issues and lack of commitment and effort on her fathers part has absolutely nothing to do with her, and it most certainly is not her fault. It’s a long and tricky road, but once she starts understand and truly believing that she isn’t to blame, than in fact she IS worth much more, things will slowly get better and she will content with her own affection and that of her boyfriend (if he’s still the picture).

    Perhaps you could also mention it to her that if she spoke to her boyfriend and asked him to be understanding that she could do with some extra compliments etc, she doesn’t have to tell him what’s going on, just that she could really do with the support. If he is a decent lad he should help her out!

    Hope this helps!


    Hi Again,

    I think I came across wrong! In a nutshell:

    1. New places, faces, experiences

    2. Have college/a goal/her future as the place to put her attention

    3. Be candid that there’s a time and a place for everything ~ including wrestling with your issues!

    The parental abandonment issue is so big/deep that you can’t handle it with one conversation. It’s an ongoing conversation, and unfortunately, something she has to come to terms with from an inner level.


    Thank you Inky & Samdlb both for your replies, it’s really appreciated just having different input!

    If I can start with yours Inky, I do get the idea of keeping them busy! This is what I meant about keeping her active with sport & also it’s good for the body & mind! She’s not the type of kid to hang around shops after school & she certainly doesn’t see her BF outside of school hours.
    I think that there’s certainly merit in ‘new faces & places’ and we’re in Australia so things are a little different over Summer holidays but I do like your idea of getting involved with charity to assist her with university placements. So thank you!

    Samdlb thank you for your candid response! I do tend to agree in that if it’s swept under the carpet so to speak until she’s at uni it creates an opportunity to have a major blow out.
    You weren’t judging by the jackass comment lol, I agree that his lack of involvement isn’t right & it’s unfortunate because there are so many separated dads out there who fight to see their kids, her Dad has had open access to her & hasn’t taken up on it. Very disappointing. Will take on board the counselling advice & reading material, thank you!

    I guess I thought we were going ok (as in she’s a well mannered & pretty well behaved kid) but I guess it’s when heading into adulthood that things really start to come out.

    Thank you!


    Bunny, an absent opposite sex parent can be devastating to a child’s development, and even at 16, she is still a child. A certified therapist who deals with divorce and an absent parent could help your daughter see where she is getting her need for outside male validation. She doesn’t have to wait until college to work on her issues, she actually would be safer and more open to it with you around to help her through therapy. Make sure she knows that your door is always open and you aren’t being judgmental, just concerned. I think you are a super mother. So many people go through their entire lives trying to be validated by their peers and strangers. You can really help her find the tools she needs to deal with feelings of self loathing and low self esteem that abandonment issues bring about. Good luck.

    • This reply was modified 9 years, 8 months ago by Tir.
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