Dear Straight Talk: Please help. I am 17. My girlfriend, "Tina," is 15. Her mom is really strict and thinks I just want to take advantage of Tina (which I don't). Last night, while I was home sleeping, Tina ran away to a friend's house and her mom called the cops, thinking I had taken her. Though I had nothing to do with it, she says I can't talk to Tina again. She hates me because we went to a movie together without her knowledge. (Tina told her she was going with a friend.) Later, at school, I offered to shake her hand and she flat-out refused, yelling at me about "using" her daughter. We love each other very much. How can I possibly continue this relationship when her mom hates me? I don't want to hurt Tina's feelings. Help! I need ideas! -- Going Crazy in Marysville, Calif.
Rachel, 19: All big time love stories have obstacles, If you love her, fight for her. But keep in mind that you are both young and a mother is important in a girl's life. Also really examine whether being together is benefiting your lives. There may be more cons then pros.
Sarah, 19: My parents disliked my former boyfriend. It helped when he had an actual conversation with them. They got to know him and his intentions, and he learned their rules and where they were coming from. It sounds like Tina and her family have some problems. She would probably benefit from your support.
Katelyn, 16: Tina is causing the trouble by being dishonest and rebellious -- and her mother is blaming you. I suggest letting things cool down. When you start over, make sure it's on the right foot. Or find someone who won't sneak around and destroy things before they start.
Will, 17: Parents always will be initially hostile toward a boy two years older. It's immature to deny you a chance when you've done nothing wrong. However, because of your age, I advise ending this relationship. There are too many negative factors.
Jesse, 18: Stop being scared of her mom. You want a great relationship, she wants her daughter safe. Sit down with her and share what you're all about. My girlfriend's father was the same way. I sat him down and talked things over. You have to get past your fear and show you actually care for this girl. You need to start almost a friendship with her mom.
Omari, 17: If you guys are really in love, nothing can stand in the way. Schedule a sit down with Tina and her mother. With the girls I've dated, it's usually the father who is overprotective. Ask the mother straight, "Why do you not like me?" From there tell her how you feel about her daughter. Share random facts about Tina to show that you know a great deal about this girl you love. In my experience, when you prove that you like more about a girl than her looks, her parents become accepting of the relationship.
Dear Going Crazy: It's impossible to see the whole picture from this snapshot, but I can tell you this: These obstacles are nothing compared to what the adult world will dish up. Think of this as a test -- because it is. Love requires guts and perseverance. I agree with the panelists who say you need to face Tina's mother and prove yourself (which may involve repeated tries). If you have the courage and dedication to do this, things might work. If you cannot face her mother -- or "just don't want to deal with it" -- either your love isn't as strong as you think, or you (and Tina) need more time to grow up.
It wasn't long ago that boys had to prove themselves repeatedly to parents. Behavior like Tina's mom's wasn't uncommon, and if a boy came to the door in his Sunday best, he still might get it slammed in his face. It definitely separated the men from the boys, so to speak, the fair-weather suitors from those willing to endure hardship. Today, there are few tests of love and even fewer boys who want to go through them when they are presented. There are too many alternatives that don't present challenges.
That said, that was then, this is now. Adolescents are a product of society as much as their home life. When the two clash, the temperament of the child often determines which wins. Some kids are naturally more rebellious than others, but a parent's tactics can either soften this tendency or fire it up. The best parenting approach involves open dialogue between parent and child. Teens really want to be understood. When the parent listens to them with warmth, curiosity and compassion, AT THE SAME TIME communicating personal values and setting clear expectations, kids tend to be happier and less rebellious than when parents are strictly authoritarian or overly indulgent.
To ask a question or inquire about being a youth panelist, visit straighttalkTNT.com or write to P.O. Box 963, Fair Oaks, CA 95628
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