General Question

kuriousk's avatar

15 year old nephew has icky girlfriend - help!

Asked by kuriousk (76points) August 8th, 2012

What can an adult do to help a teenage boy understand that having a serious (and seriously inappropriate) girlfriend at his age is not a good idea? My 15 year old nephew “Joe” lives alone with my brother. Joe’s parents never married. Joe’s mom met a man online and moved across the country when Joe was 6, leaving Joe with my brother (who then lived with my parents.) Mom, who is now back in town and in another relationship is 44, dad is single and 54. I suspect all the adults involved could have alcohol problems. (I KNOW my brother drinks much too much. Mom “borrowed” and never paid back bail money from Joe a couple of years ago after being arrested in an alcohol induced domestic violence incident – an incident which Joe witnessed.) All Joe’s grandparents are gone now, and there are no real good role models in Joe’s nuclear family. Joe is a gregarious, smart kid, a good student who has a lot of potential. He has a college fund awaiting him when he graduates.

Joe met “Mary” in the 8th grade and now they are “serious”. On Mary’s facebook page, she has listed Joe’s mom as her mother-in-law. Mary posts inappropriate sexual comments, dropping the f-bomb on her page with regularity. Joe’s mom is facebook “friends” with Mary and seems to think nothing of this. I have tried to arrange family gatherings to which Mary is invited, but Joe has made many excuses for her not attending.

Now, to the question: First, is it any of my business who my nephew dates? Second, if it IS my business, is there anything I can DO, or SAY to Joe to help him understand that he doesn’t have to be so serious at such a young age? I try to be a good role model for him, planning activities and outings with my husband and me. I wouldn’t want Joe to know I don’t feel a warm fuzzy about his girlfriend. He clearly is smitten with her. I just want to point out his many options for the future. My husband and I have no children and I dearly love my nephew. Please advise. Thank you so much.

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52 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

I really doubt you can say or do anything that will help. He thinks he is in love and all you will get from trying to help is having him think you are a huge bitch.

Let him fail and hope he learns from his mistake.

Aethelflaed's avatar

No, it’s not really any of your business. And in general, telling people who don’t absolutely need your approval that you don’t approve doesn’t tend to go over well.

Swearing and making sexual comments is pretty common at that age; it’s part of how kids figure out their sexuality and maturity. She might want to make sure to make lists first and only post certain things to those lists, but it’s still pretty standard.

I’m not really sure what “serious” means in this context. IIRC, at that age, dating for more than 2 weeks is a real accomplishment, so that might not mean more than that they aren’t breaking up every other day.

CWOTUS's avatar

Welcome to Fluther.

It seems to me that Joe has an inkling of your feelings for Mary, which is why he has moved so adroitly to exclude her from your planned meetings.

I would stop beating about the bush on this topic and tell Joe that you love him, but you don’t care for his girlfriend, based on what you’ve seen. Tell him that’s why you’d like to meet her, so that you can either allay (one hopes) or confirm (worst case) your doubts.

But also be realistic. He’s a 15-year-old boy getting all the sex he can handle at this point, it seems. That’s every 15-year-old’s dream. Tell him about the consequences, not only to him, but also to the child, should Mary become pregnant. (Surely he can relate to the consequences for the child, having lived out these consequences in his own life.) Teach him about the need for birth control, and protection from STDs. Many, probably most, 15-year-olds don’t know anything about STDs except “they should be avoided”, but they don’t have a clue about what they really are, what they really do, how long lasting they are, or how they manifest.

If he’s a bright boy, horrify him a bit. He needs that from someone who really does love him.

If you can, make sure the college fund is not in his control.

Otherwise, it’s not “your business”, but you seem to be the only responsible in your nephew’s life right now, so you should make it your business. Good on ya’.

delirium's avatar

My guess is that if you tell him about your disapproval, it might make it even more appealing.

TexasDude's avatar

Fighting it will only make him resent you and give them a Romeo and Juliet complex. MYOB unless it escalates into something that is actually dangerous.

wundayatta's avatar

Chances are overwhelming that this relationship will not last six more months. Even more overwhelming are the chances it will not survive high school. Even if she gets pregnant.

Stay away. Be nice about her. Let it run its course. If you say something to Joe, you will drive a wedge between you.

kuriousk's avatar

Thx everyone. Basically what I thought. Tell him I love him, inform and educate him, send him some positive energy and then mind my own business and let the chips fall where they may. They have already been together for over a year now. Who knows, maybe the novelty will wear off eventually. BTW, the college account is not in his control and is to be used only for education.

Mariah's avatar

I agree with what others said, further I don’t think what you have posted is evidence that this girl is “bad news.”

LuckyGuy's avatar

Is he going to be asking for money in the likely event that she gets pregnant? If not, then it is not your business. He should know that backup plan is not an option.

marinelife's avatar

It really is not your business. It is good that you have not made any comments on her (negativity is likely to drive him into her arms).

Keep encouraging him to go to college. They are likely to break up on their own.

If you know any young women you like and approve of, have your nephew meet them. He will, on his own, contrast their behavior with his girlfriend’s.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Are they having sex? I thought she just made sexual comments on Facebook.

Jeruba's avatar

I have faced the question of “inappropriate” girlfriends several times with my sons. My policy is always to treat them warmly and hospitably and never to badmouth them. I will not supply any incentive for my sons to express youthful rebelliousness by pursuing a relationship of which I disapprove. Rather, I expect time and the strain of reality and their innate good sense to bring them through.

A couple of times one of them turned out to be serious about someone who didn’t seem to me to be the right choice, but I held my tongue anyway and concentrated on supporting my son and acknowledging his feelings. In the end it’s their relationship and not mine to live with, and no one ever truly knows what it’s like inside someone else’s relationship. Regardless of my private thoughts when they broke it off, I wanted my son to be sure that I was in his corner. He didn’t have to fend off any unsympathetic words from me.

I’m sure there were relatives who disapproved of my own choice of a mate. That would not have influenced my choice. It would only have affected how I felt about the relative.

JLeslie's avatar

I can’t imagine saying something to my neice or nephew about the people they are dating, except positive things when I observe something positive. Even then, what I typically do when I am in the same room as the girlfriends/boyfriends is be cordial, and interested in getting to know them, and my typical social self. I would do that even if I didn’t like them. Curse words on a facebook page written by a teenager does not scream bad news to me. But, I guess there is reason to worry your nephew might seek someone who is bad news since his parents kind of are. At minimum a relationship with a girl would be very attractive to feel connected and loved. So, yeah, I think he is vulnerable maybe more than the average kid. But, the girl might really like him, and be nice to him, and make him happy for now. You don’t really know how they are together from what I can tell?

You can’t do anything in my opinion. All you can do is be a great example for him (hopefully if you are in a relationship it is a healthy example for him) always be happy to see him, and open to listening to him.

That’s what I think anyway.

bolwerk's avatar

I don’t see what’s icky about this girlfriend. I see how Joe dropping F-bombs and spreading sexual innuendo might be icky, but kids will be kids and Facebook has this feature that lets you ignore people’s feed without de-friending them. It might be worth trying.

I’d be more worried about the alcohol than the girlfriend. Assuming you live in the USA, where it’s illegal to actually acquaint a “minor” (anyone under 21, including adults) with alcohol – sometimes even when you have parental consent – safely so they know what they’re dealing with, you might be shit outta luck here too. However, alcohol abuse being role modeled isn’t promising and can be hard to intervene with.

Pandora's avatar

I have been there and done that. Its hard to watch a good kid go down. Only I was too far away to do anything.The only thing you can do is be a big brother or sister to him and take him out and show him real options for his life. His life view right now is hormones, mixed with a very narrow view of the world. Show him what positive choices can give him in life. Take him to a college campus and show him all the different goals he can set for himself and how an early relationship commitment can interfere. If his girlfriend truly loves him, then surely she wants him to have the future he sees for them. Do not go against the girlfriend. That will just set his feet in that block of cement.
Right now, he just thinks, if he has what his parents have that it is all the possibility there is.
I wouldn’t bring it up with my brother unless you can speak to him about getting some help with AA and make him aware how his son is going to make worse mistakes than he did.

augustlan's avatar

You’re a good aunt to care about this, but you may be overreacting to typical teenage behavior in concluding that this girl is bad for Joe. Even if you are right, though, as others have said, there really isn’t a whole lot you could do about it. It’s hard to watch the kids we love make bad choices, but unless they are in actual danger… intervening will make things worse, all the way around. Just continue to love him and be there for him, setting a good example as you go.

JLeslie's avatar

About the pregnancy question. If they have been dating a year and she has not turned up pregnant yet, there is a really good chance they use birth control and that is not a big concern. Doesn’t mean you can’t make sure they are doing something to prevent pregnancy, but just saying odds are they are.

YARNLADY's avatar

It’s so hard when they go through this. I have watched my sons and adult grandsons go through it a few times, and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.

I even went through it myself the first time around.

Paradox25's avatar

From what you’ve described it sounds like Joe has much bigger problems going on here when compared to the girlfriend issue. It sounds like he needs at least some type of positive role model in his life before even attempting to address the girlfriend issue. I’m aware that you’re trying but where is the mom and dad during all of this, I mean I know what you’ve said but are they involved in Joe’s life in any way?

Obviously sexual promiscuity, and any type of sex at that age is something to be very concerned about, but without any type of caring parents or guardians in his life I’m not sure how much more you can help here. Unless you have any type of authority over him there just isn’t too much more that you can do here. These other problems need to be addressed before worrying about his girlfriend, or other bad things will continue to follow.

FutureMemory's avatar

Considering his fucked up family, the girlfriend might very well be one of the few positive things in your nephew’s life. Think about it – presumably she shows him love and affection, talks to him, listens to him, etc. With his immediate family being a bunch of alcoholics, you should be happy that she’s in his life as a counterbalance.

If the worst you can come up with is that she swears and makes inappropriate comments on her Facebook, you really don’t have much to complain about. She’s a teenager, that’s just how they are.

TheIntern55's avatar

As a 15-year old, I can tell you that most of your evidence is normal and typical of kids that age. I hear more sex jokes than intellectual conversations when walking down the hall. Swearing is pretty much ignored nowadays and is considered no big deal. And, sorry to say this, most parents don’t stay as informed about their child’s internet activities. And even if they do, a few f-bombs isn’t the worst thing the internet’s ever seen. Look at the rest of her profile. Are there any nudes? Any racist/offensive comments/photos? Any proof of drug or alcohol use? No? Then she’s probably just a typical teenager having fun on FB with her boyfriend.
It could be serious too. Athough it is rare, some couples do make it out of high school intact. Like @JLeslie said, if they have been together all this time and have, as you assume, been sexually active, they are probably protected when it comes to pregnancy. And seeing at the young age, STDs are also improbable, though you should still check to make sure everything’s okay there. And if he falls on his face, it’s his mistake, not yours. The best way to learn is through experience and if that’s what it takes to make him look at relationships seriously, so be it.
What I think you need to do is perhaps meet this girl for real and not just judge her on her FB feed. Talk to her in person and ask her questions. Meet her family if you’re truly concerned; see what kind of a background she comes from. And you should also talk to your nephew’s parents, make sure they are informed about what’s going on.
But before you do all that, address the alcohol problems, because at this point, it’s probably more life-threatning to him than any relationship he could have.

athenasgriffin's avatar

I am a little surprised at many Flutherites saying that this girl isn’t bad news. I think she is incredibly bad news. For me, fifteen was not so far ago, and all of the girls who acted that way then still act that way now. While this may be within the range of normal behavior, it is also indicative of the quality of the girl in question. If she doesn’t know that these sexual comments are gross now, she isn’t likely to suddenly develop taste. If this is how she is as an semi-innocent fifteen year old, how will she be when she is a not-so-innocent twenty year old? If she is like the teenagers I know, right now it is mostly all talk. The problem is talk becomes behavior with time, unless someone mashes it into her silly head that it is detrimental to behave like that.

Having been close friends with girls like that, they are generally terrible influences on the males they are in romantic relationships with. I’ve seen them leech off of the successful guys they date, parasitically pulling them down. They are also incredibly attractive to the average fifteen year old. All of those sexual comments are intriguing. Their openness is charming, and the way they are obviously interested (mother-in-law of Facebook, etc) affirms their interest in their partner.

Now, with all that in mind, there is nothing you can do. Unless you have an incredibly close friend-like relationship with your nephew, anything you say will just seem haughty and forceful. It will push him away from you and toward this girl. If you know any successful males in your family close to his age that could serve as a role model, that might be better. I would wait for the fallout. And if she is as bad as you describe her to be, there will be fallout. Eventually she will hurt him bad enough that it passes his line, and the relationship will end in flames. Then you can introduce him to some nice girl you know and hope they hit it off.

flo's avatar

Does this girl and your nephew know that employers, et al look at the facebook before hire? ADDED: If Snookie is the standard maybe it is not so bad to swear and make inappropriate sexual comments in public.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@athenasgriffin Yes, eventually, people do tend to start having sex. But what exactly is the problem with someone making sexual comments when their 13 (she’s 13, he’s 15), and then having sex when they’re in college? And almost everyone on this thread has made some dirty joke on Fluther at one point or another – are we all devoid of taste?

athenasgriffin's avatar

@Aethelflaed I was under the impression that the sexual comments were of a distasteful nature. And there is a difference between Facebook and Fluther. Fluther is filled with mature adults who are mostly strangers to one another. She is making these comments on Facebook, as a child (who is not legally allowed to have sex) in front of members of her community, her parents, possibly teachers. There is nothing wrong with sex, or talking about it. However, yes, I would say it is distasteful to broadcast your sexual desires or actions on Facebook, especially if it is done in a crude way that is a hallmark of young communication on sex. I talk about sex with my friends, I joke about it with my friends, in private.

flo's avatar

I’m trying to find Mary’s age, she is 13?

-I don’t think the fact that something is common is the way to measure that that is the ideal. And Facebook and the internet in geneneral is public and it seems that is th thing the kids need to be thought at a very early age.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@athenasgriffin Different people find different sexual comments distasteful. Many find all comments of a sexual nature to be distasteful. All we know is the aunt’s opinion, not the actual comments. We don’t know if she’s saying “man, I love to blow dudes” or “Look at Clooney’s new car – you think he’s compensating for something?”. We also don’t know who exactly she’s posting these things to – based on the lack of information, it’s just as likely that she’s posting these comments to a specific list of friends whom she knows will be ok with them, and on that list is the mother of her boyfriend, whom she knows is ok with those comments. Perhaps the OP knows of these comments through the grapevine, not through personal exposure to the girl’s Facebook. And even if it is posted publicly, that’s pretty easily remedied by teaching her how to use lists and privacy controls.

Whether she is legally old enough to have sex is actually highly dependent upon her state; I know in my state, she’d be old enough to have sex with some people. But either way, almost everyone makes lots of comments for a long time before getting to the actual acts.

athenasgriffin's avatar

@Aethelflaed I made my assessment of the situation with the assumption that @kuriousk was a friend of the nephew and saw the comments personally. Looking back at the original question, this assumption seems to be a valid one. I am also under the assumption that the girlfriend posts like the young teenagers I know talk about sex. I stand by both of these assumptions and my statements on the girl. I would say that it is significantly more likely that she is not posting this specifically to friends, as the number of people who use these controls is relatively low (From surveys of people) and because the OP saw the comments or knew someone who saw the comments. I highly doubt the OP is friends with any of a 15 year old girl’s circle of close friends.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@athenasgriffin Well, you know what they say about assuming – when you do it, you make an ass out of u and me.

kuriousk's avatar

I am friends with my nephew on fb. Not Mary.

flo's avatar

All I know is not often but accounts get hacked into, better to save those kinds of communications to the face-to-face kind. Even adults are too reckless about the content of their Facebook. Can’t be too careful.

kuriousk's avatar

“roll roll your hoe, f@%k her till she screams, bust a nut, smack her butt, pass her to the team.”

JLeslie's avatar

@kuriousk Your nephew wrote that?

@Paradox25 You consider it promiscuous for 15 year olds who have been dating a year to have sex? I just am curious about how you use the word promiscuous? To me it means some who sleeps around, not someone who is with one person for a long time. I’ll assume the couple is not swinging with other sexual partners.

kuriousk's avatar

Mary wrote it.

JLeslie's avatar

@kuriousk Lord, someone really does need to tell her not to do that. But, I will tell you my nephew and his friends wrote horrible things on facebook. Crude, mean, I would say borderline bullying things. My neice never friended me, she wouldn’t friend anyone in the family, so I can only figure her facebook was full of all sorts of things I, and most adults, would find awful. I know her profile photo sometimes looked to sexual to me. And not that she was half naked, just the expression on her face. My niece and nephew are not going to be Harvard lawyers, or MIT engineers, but they are good people I believe overall. I believe them to have integrity and overall be good people. I also should say I disagree with @athenasgriffin that this does not have to be indicative of how she will be in her 20’s. She can mature. Unfortunately, it does indicate her parents aren’t keeping very close watch on her facebook.

When I saw things on my facebook that I did not like regarding my niece and nephew I did nothing. Saying something means you will be defriended. I figured if my niece or nephew ever did anything that I specifically thought endangered them or someone else I would interviene, otherwise, I just dismissed it as teenage stupidity and did nothing. When I was with them I did try to share some wisdom when it seemed appropriate. I don’t think it had much affect in the moment, but I think maybe they are starting to see where I made some sense. But, I was not very close with them, are you close to your nephew? Talk to him regularly, take him places often, visit their home, or they visit yours? Are you in frequent touch with his father, your brother?

athenasgriffin's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, that is completely true. It doesn’t have to be. She could grow up and learn that Facebook is your public image to the world and become a very classy individual who other girls can look up to. But most people continue on the path they have forged, and the one that other people have forged for them, unless an event occurs that moves them to another path. As it is, it doesn’t seem like she would be a good influence on a young teenage male.

kuriousk's avatar

We used to have them over a lot before my dad died. Now, not so much. I have a hard time going over to their place – our childhood home – because of its current condition.

I encouraged my brother and nephew to join our gym, which they did. I used to see them often there, as my nephew was enrolled in a kid’s program, but now that the program has come to an end, my brother seems to find an excuse not to go. Thus, I invite my nephew to go with me. We are scheduled to go tomorrow morning. Perhaps afterwards, I can have a gentle talk with him. I feel close to him, yes. Hard to explain the relationship with my brother. He and I, simply put, have extremely different views on most aspects of life. He likely needs counseling, yet he has no insurance and works enough to get by. Geez, maybe I am the one who needs counseling!
: /

JLeslie's avatar

@athenasgriffin Um, I would guess the teenage male is similar to her. He has been dating her for a year and sees what she writes on facebook. Why in the wprld would you think she is the only one in the relationship who might be a mess. Or, let’s say immature.

JLeslie's avatar

@kuriousk Well, that sounds encouring that you might have some influence. My neice and nephew are actually my husband’s sister’s kids, so the relation is by marriage, and my husband and his sister talk maybe 4 times a year when we live out of town, when we lived nearby maybe we saw them 6–8 timesa year, but there was not real closeness with the kids. We invited them and wanted to be with them, but it was a little awkward.

kuriousk's avatar

@athenasgriffin That’s what I wonder. Classic case of two kids who don’t get enough attention/love/allthestuffthatkidsneedatthatage at home, coming together because they think they will be able to “complete” each other. If they are both not only young but coming from homes where instability is the norm, do they have a chance?

My husband is successful and a responsible guy. Maybe he could talk to him.

I just don’t know when I would ever have the opportunity to meet Mary, though, to talk to her as was suggested earlier.

JLeslie's avatar

@kuriousk Why can’t you invite your nephew and his GF over or to lunch? Not to lecture them. But, to meet her. She might be perfectly pleasant and interesting. They have been dating a year right? Or, have the family over for some upcoming holiday and invite her. Or, do you have thanksgiving at your house? Have the family over for thanksgiving. I know that is way out in Novemeber, but if you can’t think of something before that, maybe it will suffice.

athenasgriffin's avatar

@JLeslie I would assume he is similar. However, the comment Mary posted shows (to me) a lack of respect for women. If he is with a girl who doesn’t respect herself or women in general, she might be teaching him bad habits. Your early relationships are the ones that show you how to behave in relationships later on. If he is in a relationship that compound his own issues, he might learn certain things that could impact later relationships. That is a great idea about inviting them both over for lunch and assessing the situation as well as getting to know how they act as a couple, though.

FutureMemory's avatar

@TheIntern55 Excellent post. I sincerely hope the OP read it.

JLeslie's avatar

@athenasgriffin I half disagree with you and half agree. I think it can go either way. Plenty of people are wild in high school and buckle down later in life. Many of us dated guys who were horrible to us when we were teens and go on to have great marriages. But, it can set a bad trajectory, it is really difficult to know. I would say my relationship is more like my parents than my high school boyfriend, except my marriage is better than my parents. My high school boyfriend cheated and lied all too often. I dated him years, he barely made it through high school. My parents are well educated and honest as the day is long. What I did learn from that high school boyfriend of mine is how to spot a cheater a mile away, and he also taught me some very positive things, it was not all bad that’s for sure. He was a great break from my family, less pressure and he liked me.

How do you know for sure he is not the bad influence on him?

The OP has decided things about Mary without knowing her, it’s unfair. I remember my SIL and her husband didn’t like her son’s second girlfriend. They loved this one girl he was dating, and then he dumped her and took up with this other one. When I met the second one I thought she was fantastic. Smiled, held herself well, talked to me about how she was going to go to college, and was interested in dentistry. Already had done all sorts of research regarding her career ambitions. Afterwards, it was a party, again a family member said something about how they missed the other girl, and I said, but she (I can’t remember her name) seems to have a great head on her shoulders, and I told them what she told me. None of them had any idea. They had never talked to her to get to know her and her interests. I know you agree it is a good idea to meet her, I just wanted to elaborate.

kuriousk's avatar

You are right, I am making assumptions, and we know what they can do…

athenasgriffin's avatar

@kuriousk Good luck with your nephew. Whether she is a good influence or a bad one, things usually turn out okay. I know you want to save him from any pain she might cause him, but kids are more hardy than adults give them credit for. When I was a kid I’m pretty sure my family thought I was going to run my life into the ground. I definitely dated some people they didn’t like, and somehow I managed to make it into college and become more successful than it seemed like from my dating preferences. (The first boy I brought home wore all black, with chains and all. He was not a nice kid.)

JLeslie's avatar

@kuriousk Let us know how it goes. Give us an update.

And, welcome to fluther.

kuriousk's avatar

I sure will let you all know. Thanks so much for your time and suggestions!

flo's avatar

“roll roll your hoe, f@%k her till she screams, bust a nut, smack her butt, pass her to the team.”?

The best I can say is ler’s hope she is quoting some lyrics. If that is what she feels is acceptable normal human behaviour, how do you know he is with her because she allows him to be what other girls don’t?

kuriousk's avatar

Had a nice visit with Joe. We talked at length about Mary, their relationship, her family, his future, and more. Loaned him a book – Blink, by Gladwell. Made plans to visit a nearby university. I feel much better about his situation. No plans to meet Mary yet, but I will work on that one. Thx so much for all the suggestions. :)

augustlan's avatar

Thanks for the update, @kuriousk. Sounds like things are going in the right direction!

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