DEAR ABBY: My 13-year-old daughter, "Lizzie," continues to talk to a 14-year-old boy who is very controlling and abusive to her. I made her stop talking to him, took away her cellphone privileges, and tried to show her how wrong he was for her and that she was going to wind up very hurt.
After recently giving her the cellphone back, I learned last night that Lizzie has been talking to him and lying to me about it. He sent her a text that if she didn't answer his call within seven minutes, he was either going to shoot himself or cut himself. He included a picture of his arm with a knife held against it. She thinks that her compliance is all that's standing in the way of this boy killing himself.
I'm scared for her safety, but she won't listen to me because she "loves" him. When I called the boy's mother about it, she became defensive and accused me of implying she was a bad mother. Please tell me how to handle this. -- WORRIED MOM IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR WORRIED MOM: It's time to have a nonconfrontational conversation with your daughter about the dynamics of emotional blackmail, because that's exactly what she's experiencing. Your daughter needs to realize that the boy appears to have serious emotional problems and as much as she may love him, she's not equipped to help him or to prevent him from hurting himself if he really wants to.
As long as Lizzie sees herself as a hero who is saving his life by sacrificing hers, he won't get the help he needs. So if she REALLY cares about him -- and I have no doubt she does -- she will end the relationship because it isn't a healthy one for either of them.