Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

You Must Tell Your Daughter No

DEAR NATALIE: My daughter is 17 and her boyfriend is 19. He invited her to go away with him and his family in August to their summer home. His mother assured me that she will be supervised, but I just don't know how to feel about it. My gut is telling me "no," but I don't want to upset my daughter and make her feel as though I don't trust her. Any thoughts? -- CONFLICTED MOM

DEAR CONFLICTED MOM: Your job as a mother is to upset your daughter. It's part of the fun of being a parent to a teenager. She comes up with a scheme and you foil it. In all seriousness though, sending your daughter away with her older boyfriend is like putting a hungry man in front of a buffet and telling him not to eat. The truth is, sneaking around is half the fun, and if left to their own devices, they are going to hook up. (Not that they probably aren't already, but this is just asking for it to happen ... come on. We were all 17 once.) Tell her no. First, she is underage. Second, you don't know what his parents are like on vacation, and third, he's a hormonal teenager. Yes, there will be tears, tantrums and probably some nasty words, but put your foot down on this one. When she is 18, she can do as she pleases but until then, be the mom she needs (and not necessarily wants) in this moment.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Did someone go out of their way to help you with something or help you to make a connection, land a job or improve your resume? Send them a handwritten thank-you note. The art of being nice never goes out of style and people remember gestures that remind them of their humanity.

Please send your relationship and lifestyle questions to or tweet them to @NBSeen. You can also send postal letters to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)