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by Abigail Van Buren

Parents Are Hurt When Teen Turns Her Back on Her Family

DEAR ABBY: My only child, "Lauren," is 16. Her boyfriend, "Scott," treated her well when they first started dating a year ago. Now he talks down to her, makes fun of her and breaks up with her every other week for a few days. Lauren doesn't talk to us about these break-ups or anything else. She talks to Scott's mom and dad and believes everything they tell her.

Lauren used to be close to my sister and her kids, but now she ignores them. She would stay at Scott's 24/7 if we'd let her. She goes there even when he's not home, and has asked if she could spend the night over there. Of course, we refused.

We're not bad parents. Her friends all tell our daughter how lucky she is. Lauren has a nice car, pretty clothes and just about everything she wants. She doesn't have chores, but she holds down a part-time job for spending money.

I don't know why she allows Scott to disrespect her and why she has forsaken her family. We liked Scott and his family at first -- until they started turning our daughter against us. She'll be 18 before long, and I don't want to lose my daughter. Help! -- TROUBLED MOM IN TENNESSEE

DEAR TROUBLED MOM: Your daughter "has a nice car, pretty clothes and just about everything she wants." Nowhere in your letter did you mention discipline and accountability. "Chores" are for more than spending money. They reinforce the idea that a child is a contributing member of the family.

Your daughter is 16, thinks she's in love and has no experience. Scott's behavior is emotionally abusive, and he breaks up with her regularly because he wants some freedom. I don't know what your daughter is getting from Scott's parents -- perhaps it's "hope" that their son really is Prince Charming. (Not.)

I applaud the fact that you didn't allow your daughter to spend the night with him. There is still time for you and your husband to impose some rules in your home, and I hope you will do so. Family counseling could help to open the lines of communication, and you should get some right away.