Every week, Danny Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: the teen daughter’s trip.
Danny: I feel very confident that you did not do the wrong thing! Sometimes teenagers get mad when their parents do something responsible but that draws attention to something that makes them uncomfortable, and that does not mean you did anything wrong.
Nicole: Yeah, i agree. This is weird as heck.
Just that it wasn’t mentioned beforehand and she has never met this person
Danny: yes! this feels very “the gift of fear to me”
people who spring sudden last-minute sleeping arrangement changes on teenage girls and expect them to just be cool about it
Nicole: She’ll get over it
and ideally eventually the family will be like “oh, you know, we SHOULD have said something in case other arrangements needed to be made”
But that’s not your problem
They can feel insulted if they want
Danny: yeah, my guess here is that she’s just embarrassed and it’s easiest to blame you for that, rather than her boyfriend’s parents for putting her in an uncomfortable situation to begin with
but as you said, she’s not going to be like, 30 and saying “Remember that weekend you got me a hotel room? My life was never the same afterwards”
Nicole: It’s also, like, I don’t think “random man” is the problem so much as who the shit wants to share a hotel room w three other people
It’s just a weird thing to pull?
So, wait it out
Danny: right? and to not mention it?
Nicole: Also, you got her a hotel room, you didn’t drive five hours and take her home
Danny: even in a text on the way over: “By the way, Bill was able to come after all — is that all right by you?”
Danny: RIGHT, that might have been overkill but like—everyone was able to sleep, everyone got to do parents’ weekend, everyone lived
Nicole: I do think you probably in general need to start pulling back big time
I don’t think this was an overstep but she IS 17 and not 15 and you are gonna have to start slowing your roll
so maybe have a talk about what happened, and that this felt weird, and you trust her, and that you know going forward she’s basically an adult and will not be riding her ass through college
Danny: sure! you can encourage her to speak up in the moment if something changes that bothers her, that it’s okay to disagree with people even if they’re putting a little pressure on you to “be chill” about something you don’t want to be
Nicole: SO important
chillness is overrated
Danny: like, we HOPE you’ll feel comfortable asserting your boundaries, but it’ll also be your call more and more often in the future, so we will let you make this decision for yourself in the future
Nicole: when the alternative is a bad vibe
Nicole: also if their fam is insulted or annoyed they need to chill
they are the ones being un-chill
Also, your daughter will be broken up with by this guy or vice versa within six to nine months
so it’s not going to be a huge deal
And my last thing is: she TOLD you she was uncomfortable
You did not invent the idea she should feel uncomfortable
Nicole: You heard her discomfort and changed the situation to accommodate it
Danny: right, and it might be fair to say, “Okay, as you get older we’re not going to be able to fix things whenever you’re uncomfortable; if you tell us about things that bother you we can offer you advice and support but we won’t keep making this choice for you in the future”
so she knows you’re not just going to treat her like a child forever
Nicole: Yes, excellent.
Danny: but to also stand by, “Look, we made the call in the moment, you still live at home with us, it was an appropriate response and everyone’s fine”