Talking openly with your teenage daughter can help her see the problems in her relationship.

How to Talk to a Teenage Daughter About a Bad Boyfriend

by Leah Campbell

Teenage relationships are often full of excitement, romance, drama and plenty of angst. As your daughter navigates a world where she is still trying to figure out exactly who she is, it is possible that she will fall into romantic relationships with boys who do not seem worthy of the wonderful person you know you helped create. Teenage girls are equipped with a lot of information about how they believe relationships should work, but in many cases, they are still vulnerable, notes clinical psychologist Anthony E. Wolf in a February 2012 article for As a result, there might be times when she will need your guidance as she evaluates new relationships.

Let your teen daughter know you are there, ready and willing to talk. Even if she does not yet seem prepared to open up, ensure your daughter knows you are available. Don’t push, but simply make your presence known.

Keep judgment out of the conversation. When your daughter does come to you about some of her relationships issues, avoid making her feel bad about what she has put up with. Conversely, remain as neutral as possible about her boyfriend’s behavior as well. Become a sounding board without letting your own opinions seep in.

Don’t throw what you do know in her face later on down the line. Elizabeth Berkley, author of “Ask Elizabeth,” explains on that if you use information your daughter shares with you against her, she will be less likely to come to you again in the future. Show your daughter that she can trust you when she needs to talk about the more confusing aspects of her life without fearing punishment or future restrictions.

Discuss what a good relationship should involve. Explain to your daughter that love involves trust and respect. Help her understand that when you are in a good relationship, you should feel good about yourself. Point to couples you both know who work well together, and ask your daughter what it is about their relationships she would also like to emulate. Help her to create a list of requirements she would like to have in future relationships.

Allow your daughter to tell you what parts of her relationship aren’t working. Keep your own opinions at bay as you guide her in exploring the aspects of the relationship that are hard. When she touches on things you too noticed, encourage her to further evaluate why this may be an issue in a relationship.

Validate her feelings. Don’t diminish this relationship or tell her it won’t matter in another few years. Even if that is true, it won’t feel true to her now. Acknowledge her emotions and let her know you understand how she feels.

Advise her to maintain pieces of her life separate from this boyfriend. Dr. Wolf recommends encouraging a teen girl to maintain other hobbies and to also maintain other friendships. Encourage your daughter to be a whole person, rather than allowing herself to become completely immersed in a relationship.


  • Make sure your daughter understands any type of physical abuse, even if it's hair pulling or pushing, is completely unacceptable in a relationship. Make it clear that excessive jealousy and controlling behavior are not signs of affection, but are unhealthy. Explain that any types of threats, intimidation, putdowns, and betrayal are all harmful forms of emotional abuse -- and are never OK in a relationship.


  • If you fear physical, sexual or emotional abuse behavior in your daughter's relationship, you must encourage her to end it quickly. If she balks, or you suspect that she won't, you should enlist the help of a professional.

About the Author

Living in Alaska, Leah Campbell has traveled the world and written extensively on topics relating to infertility, dating, adoption and parenting. She recently released her first book, and holds a psychology degree (with an emphasis in child development and abnormal child psychology) from San Diego State University.

Photo Credits

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