Relationship Reboot


This is a Part II to an early question submitted about a very strong-willed and increasingly mouthy 16-year old daughter. Please bear with someone who has subscribed for YEARS without submitting the first question, in that this is long, and long in coming.

An additional issue we're dealing with is our daughter's manipulative use of the threat of suicide. Ironic that just within the hour, I've received a text from her boyfriend (who never texts me) that he is afraid that our daughter may try to harm herself. Before you think you imagine what kind of alarm that would cause me, let me tell you that she plays the suicide card for most any occasion, for drama. It is almost weekly, sometimes multiple times in a week. Mostly it's in the confines of texting with her boyfriend (which I monitor & so am aware of) and I will say that he does it about as much as her. (She is boy-crazy in the extreme, and is obsessed with this bf.) Let me hasten to add that no one thinks either of them is truly suicidal. My daughter's occasion for threatening to "end it all" today sprang from the situation I described in my previous question in which she was angry with me over the phone for not allowing her to take her cellphone to school. She told me, "Suck it up, I AM taking my phone." And then hung up on me. (She still wasn't given her phone--duh.)

This afternoon she needed a ride after school to her year-round swim club. I wouldn't give her one, essentially because of her "suck it up" comment to me earlier. She was beside herself--her boyfriend swims too and would be there--and so by the time she was able to talk to him (land line!) she was so despondent--I mean, not being able to go to the swim club and see him, the tragedy!--that she was evidently ready to end it ALL over that.

This has played out sooo many times. I've had various parents, including the mom of this boy, "sit me down" to voice their concern over hearing from their child that my daughter was threatening suicide. We take her phone away...she threatens suicide. We tell her she can't go to her swim club (on a day her boyfriend is there too)...she threatens suicide. We have to get on her case about her neglect of school assignments that a teacher may have contacted us about...she threatens suicide. She is not bi-polar, does not struggle with clinical depression, does not have abusive parents ( hear her tell it...), is not burdened with issues that might put it in some kid's head to think of ending it all (being bullied, being overweight or physically unattractive, being unpopular, etc etc.) She is a physically beautiful, athletic, smart, witty, girl with many friends, who has been given so many advantages and privileges that it's now a sad cliche, and she has learned somewhere that threatening suicide is the worst thing you can do to someone. My fear is that at some point she will threaten it often enough that her pride, if nothing else, will compel her to go to at least some length (for show, which could tragically backfire) to prove her sincerity.

The problem now is the "delicious drama" of threatening suicide back and forth with this boyfriend who also digs the drama of it himself. It has gone on so long and become so frequent that it's now clear to me that their relationship is very unhealthy and dysfunctional with all the drama...and fighting...and then suicide talk...and then reconciliation. I did talk to the boyfriend's mom tonight and told her that this is somewhat of a last straw for me, and that I want to put the kibosh on this relationship until they mature enough to understand that talk like this is not a game. His mom agrees but here's the big question: how do you tell a 15 & 16 year old that they must break up? We know that they are not handling themselves with maturity but our fear is that forbidding the relationship will only push them together, and even artificially so. But they--and we--need a break from all of this threat of suicide at the drop of a hat, which is something I can't tolerate anymore. I just don't know what that looks like, or if it's actually possible, for us as their parents to insist that they put an end to their relationship. Unenforceable? But it surely seems desperately necessary.

Thank you for any insights & suggestions.

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