• Troubleshooter

My Underage Daughter Spends Nights with Friends I Don’t Know

The Japan News

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female part-time employee in my 50s, and I need advice about my daughter. She is a second-year student at an evening high school and tends to spend nights away from home.

She doesn’t have friends at school, so she spends her days off either on the phone with people she met online or plays video games with them.

She started staying out all night during the summer of her first year in high school. It seems like she stays with her online friends, who are mostly men. I don’t think these people are complete strangers. They could be a current boyfriend or someone else. It doesn’t seem like there’s one specific person. But I get the impression they’re all men.

As she’s a minor, I worry about her and tell her to stop staying out. However, when it’s about the time she should be coming home, she just texts me to say she’s staying over at someone else’s place. She doesn’t tell me who she’s staying with, where she’s staying or any details, but I can always get in touch with her.

She gets full of herself and says it’s fine because she’s in high school now. She also says that since her friends let her stay over, she wants them to stay over at our place. What should I do?

B, Wakayama Prefecture

Dear Ms. B:

Some things are unclear. First, are you a single mother or do you have a husband? As your daughter attends an evening high school, does she work during the day? You did not mention anything about that.

You write that she often spends nights away from home, but when it comes to where she’s staying or whether she always stays with one man or different men, you don’t seem sure at all. You have no idea whether the parents of her friends are OK with the situation. When you tell your daughter you’re worried, she talks back. Your concern seems to go through one ear and out the other.

In an average parent-child relationship, it is quite unusual for the adult to tacitly allow their underage daughter to spend the night with someone the parents don’t know. Years ago, the parents would go over to where their daughter was staying and drag her back home. At the very least, you need to know the contact information of the other person in case of an emergency. If your daughter really wants to spend the night at their place, you should contact the other parent and confirm whether it is OK.

You seem to be an understanding parent, but your attitude so far has been irresponsible. You can’t protect your daughter this way. Don’t forget, until your daughter becomes independent, she is still a child. If her friends are going to stay over at your place, call their parents and let them know that you’ll take responsibility while they are with you. Why not start there?

Hazuki Saisho, writer