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My stepdaughter came out to us that shes gay. She has been talking to her girlfriend who lives in California and asked her dad if he could take her. I said, "No she's only 14 yrs old. Would you take her if it was a boy?" That's along way to go and a lot of money for her to meet her 1st crush... any thoughts please!

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    From where does she want to travel to California? Nevada, New York or Norway? – Alexander Dec 19 '14 at 9:11
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    Can you clarify whether "meet her first crush" means that these two have never met face to face before, or that the girlfriend has moved to California since they started dating? They're pretty different scenarios :) – Acire Dec 19 '14 at 12:18
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    You will want to clarify and make sure she will be meeting (a) a girl and (b) about her age. On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…) – Vincent Hubert Dec 19 '14 at 16:33
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    @corsiKa No, they're still very different scenarios. It's more common these days for relationships to start online, but it still presents different risks than a relationship that grows from somebody you see in person, especially for a 14-year old that may not be as capable as an adult of evaluating whether or not an online persona is a genuine person. – user11394 Dec 20 '14 at 0:36
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    @corsiKa To say that online dating or relationships are the same as in person dating is far off base. Many people find success with online relationships because they are different. And since they are different situations they have different, albeit similar, risks. Knowing these risks helped me, my mother, and my sister in law, and all of our spouses find our mates. My stepfather's mom, however, doesn't understand the risks and has been caught in several catfish scams. It's not stigma or phobia. It's responsible assessment. – user11394 Dec 20 '14 at 19:35
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Not focusing on the sexuality and asking the father's view regardless of gender is great. This is an opinion question, though, so may be closed as too broad. That said, I'd suggest that it really ought not to have anything to do with the distance, cost, or 1st crush status, but the fact that because of her age, her safety is an issue. Also, you do not mention the age of the other person, but let's assume roughly the same age.

The question then becomes how to explain it to her. I suggest the following:

We understand that you care for her a lot and want to see her — it's great that you want to meet. Meeting her, though, requires travel and other considerations for your safety that at this time make it so that we have to say, "No." If you and she can figure out a way to meet where you are safe and our concerns are met, then you can meet.

Chat with her and when you come up with an idea that works out, let us know and we'll consider that. We're sure that she cares about you and wants to ensure your safety, too.

As the conversation progresses and if you determine a sexual interest, then setting boundaries against that is what I, as a father of a 15yo girl, would recommend. Just be advised that how you set those boundaries is more important than that you set the boundaries.

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    As a father of more than one girl, with one already being legally adult and in a stable relationship, I cannot relate to the idea that a 15yo girl needs to be protected from sex by her father. My oldest was 15 when I invited her boyfriend for Xmas and talked to her about how we now need to get practical about all the things she already knew about in theory. The two of us decided which protection would be best for her, and I made sure she had it in time. As a consequence, she trusted me enough to come to me to ask about problems they had. – sbi Dec 21 '14 at 11:21
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    This trust I value much higher than any pretense-virginity that buys her nothing. – sbi Dec 21 '14 at 11:22
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    @sbi So you think it is OK to aid breaking of the law.... – Ian Dec 24 '14 at 17:42
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    @Ian: First off, I would break any law for my kids. However, living in a sensible country, I don't need to when it comes to speaking with my 15yo kids about having sex. – sbi Dec 24 '14 at 17:46
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There are many unanswered questions here which do matter.

I presume this is not someone with whom she had a relationship, but someone she has never met in person (if I'm wrong, please correct me). Did she first make contact with the friend online? What is your general policy about a 14 year old meeting up with someone she met online?

At what age do you (as parents) think your daughter should start dating? Kids find ways around rules, but dating at 14 is not permitted by many parents. Dating and asking for airfare to do so strikes me as unrealistic on your daughter's part.

Although her sexuality should have nothing to do with this decision, it's possible that your daughter thinks the available pool of romantic possibilities is limited by her homosexuality, and it probably is. At 14, though, romance should still be some years away. In this age of Skype/Facetime/etc., she can see her friend, but I would think she should be concentrating at least as much on friendships (and school/other activities).

These are things that should have been discussed with her a long time ago, but better now than not at all, although now it will unfortunately appear to be interfering rather than simply setting up principles because she has someone in mind. Still, as parents, you need to set the limits that you all can live with.

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    Superior point in mentioning Skype, etc. I know with my daughter that she is eager to meet friends from TeamSpeak (not romantically, just friends of both genders) in real life (IRL)... it's like "taking it to the next level." +1 – Sylas Seabrook Dec 20 '14 at 6:07
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    IMs and texting worked for me(I bought my first unl. text messaging package, when that was a thing, just to talk to this one girl I'd met online that is now my wife), but Skype sure would have been nice! Snapchat, too. The bond you develop when you can't be physically near a person can grow very deep. – user11394 Dec 20 '14 at 8:24
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Here are some thoughts that might help:

  1. Would you be ok with it if she was not a crush, but a normal good friend that she has not seen for a long time?! If so than her request is not unreasonable. (If not, it may still not be unreasonable)
  2. Is california less safe than your own environment?! If an adult accompanies her for the trip the travel should be a non issue from a safety point of view. And if she knows one of you travelled all the way with her to meet her friend there should be a good chance that she acts responsibly when she is there. (At least as much as when she is sneaking around your hometown).
  3. Travel time/cost is a serious issue in relationships. Assuming things go well once they meet, how would they sustain their relationship in the future?! This is something you can tell them, but rather than pushing this point too hard it may be better to let them experience it somehow. (Child should sponsor part of the travel cost?! / We can go there, but it will be on our next family vacation)

All in all it may not be bad to let them meet, especially if you can do it in a cost efficient way (combining the trip with a regular vacation?!). But do talk about future plans as this might make her realize that it's not going to be easy even if they get to meet.

Disclaimer: I do come from an environment where it is common to see kids 'dating' at age 14.

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Literally had exactly this situation myself at her age, excepting the sexuality component, which doesn't seem like an issue here (but it is critical to be clear that it is not an issue here, when communicating any decision to her!). Not a parent, but my parents' decision on this point was one that I found fair at the time, so she may as well.

Is there anything nearby where this girl lives that would make a decent family vacation? San Francisco is a great place, Disneyland is in California, San Diego has one of the best zoos in the world, etc. (Californians: forgive my ignorance of the great things to visit in California; I know there are more.) People go to these places on vacation all the time; if the girl lives near any of these places, suggest that perhaps an upcoming family vacation could head over there, which could include an opportunity to meet this girl.

This makes a good-faith effort to accommodate your step-daughter's request, while maintaining perspective and acknowledging the reality that this is an expensive, time-consuming trip. You're not going to head to California lightly, but if it's a place she'd like to visit, you can make it clear that you're pro-actively including that in your plans. It also ensures that any first meeting takes place in a safe location, with supervision, which covers any concerns about the safety of meeting someone on the Internet, as well as any concerns about possible sexual activity between the two.

If the girl doesn't live anywhere interesting, well, her family can (and should) meet you halfway. Presumably they don't want their daughter meeting people from the Internet alone, either. And interesting destinations within California are probably an easier trip for their family than yours. (And if there are any interesting destinations near your home, that would also be something they might do.)

The other hand here is, obviously, the next family vacation may not be for a fairly long time. These new plans wouldn't override any existing plans for a vacation; you're not going to cancel existing reservations or anything, so the trip to California might not even be the next vacation, but the one after that. That's on her. She's not going to move to California no matter what she does, so she's looking at long-distance relationship even after meeting this girl.

Speaking from lots of experience, long-distance relationships are hard, but not impossible. If she manages to maintain this one, this isn't a "first crush" and deserves to be taken more seriously than that by you. If she still wants to visit this girl the next time you plan a family vacation, you should include that in your plans. But this approach gives the relationship time to see how serious it is.

Obviously, don't question that the relationship will last to her (also speaking from experience, a "first crush" almost always seems like "fairy tale perfect-match love" to a teenager), but if she balks at how long we're talking about, implying that you were assuming her relationship could handle that and she is the one questioning that may help (if done well).

In my case, the girl I met online at 15 and I broke up long before any of these vacation plans materialized. We remained close, though, and we did wind up visiting each other, she on a family vacation, me after I turned 18 and paid for my own trip to see her. We still talk, and plan on attending each other's weddings next year.

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From the lack of information it doesn't seem like you have all the information on what is really going on.

I would first suggest that you go and do something Fun with your daughter and have a calm conversation about the whole thing and see what is going on, she is 14 and believes that she can make decisions on her own (assumption), so talk to her and make sure that you know why she makes the decisions she makes, and let her know how you make decisions, how you make decisions when you don't know what to do.

Just have conversations with her.

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How about setting up supervised facetime/skype sessions once every 2 weeks for a year minimum before even entertaining the idea of a 14 year old traveling to hook up with anyone, known or unknown, regardless of sexual orientation (agree with others, too few details provided)

If you try this approach you are telling your 14 year old you are listening and presenting an alternative that shows you are not dismissing the request or their sexual orientation without consideration and at the same time gives you an opportunity to express your concerns (safety-security-maturity level, utmost importance) and why the 1 year supervised restriction is a good compromise for both you and your daughter.

You'll achieve?:

After a year you should be able to be fairly certain who this person is and if they are who they appear or are projecting to be, to you and your 14 year old daughter.

After a year, she'll be 15 and this type of discussion would be "more appropriate to most" than at her current age.

After a year, since you would be supervising video chats (under the suggested scenario) you should be able to make a determination whether this person should be in your underage daughter's environment on any level until she is of age and can make her own decisions.

If your 14 year old daughter and her "friend" are willing to accept the notion of supervised video chats for a year and remain interested and maintain contact with each other for an entire year should logically tell you volumes about both your daughter and her friend (not a crush, genuine, etc.).

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    Can you elucidate where the 1 session every 2 weeks limitation came from? And, presumably, they already have access to unsupervised communication, so how does affect such communication, and how can you ensure the supervised interactions are genuine and not an act to appease you? – user11394 Dec 20 '14 at 4:42
  • 1 session every 2 weeks when unsupervised contact may or may not have occurred (this is an unknown) gives the parent the ability to establish new or some boundaries for an underage child and yes, it would require discontinuance of any future unsupervised contact which could admittedly be burdensome. Genuine contact or not? If two underage (at least one has been established to be 14 years old) can keep up an "act" after a year to appease a parent again I would claim logic would say at that point you'd be past the point of an "act". – Jules Dec 20 '14 at 4:50
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    That's a lot of assumptions. Why is 26 sessions over a year important? Those numbers feel arbitrary to me, so do you have any references for why you chose them? Limiting your child to only communicate with someone on your (arbitrary) terms also seems to be asking for a child that just communicates to the other person without your knowledge (that is, it encourages secrecy, not honesty). Do you have any references that says this is an effective tactic (forbidding behavior you can only monitor when you're immediately present)? What motivation would the child have to obey? – user11394 Dec 20 '14 at 7:54
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    I'm curious whether you'd also propose chaperoned dates every 14 days for a romantic interest that wasn't separated by geography. (I also don't feel that a 15-year-old is significantly more equipped to deal with a cross-country trip to meet a girlfriend than a 14-year-old is.) – Acire Dec 20 '14 at 15:07
  • Personally no dating for 14 YO on my watch despite location. No computer/phone/tablet allowed unsupervised w/o parental safeguards either. Other hand, wouldn't want to alienate/dismiss 14 YO feelings & 1 vid chat 2x a mo shows listening, respect feelings by developing plan both can live with. Solution provides some wants/needs for all parties via long term agreement. Relationship intact after yr? Potential mind change re daughter's sincerity for "friend" & after 26 supervised visits, parent more informed giving ability to revisit whether dangerous entity or 1 who may sit as family 1 day. – Jules Dec 22 '14 at 2:51
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There are several things going on here, but I'll address only the two most relevant concerns.

The first and most important thing you should be aware of is that, yes, while she is a teenager, by our (current U.S. standards) she is still a child. Children do... childish things. They manipulate their own parents (biological or otherwise) in order to get what they want. One should take great care in this situation, and make sure that any relevant shock factors aren't coloring the deciding factors' logical facilities. We are human, emotions might be running high (good or bad) and they cloud our judgement. No-one is immune. Be sure she isn't using the "bomb" (even a positive) of her sexuality to cloud the idea that what she is doing is outside normal. A 14 year old, male or female, does not travel for 'first crushes.' I, personally, wouldn't let my 14 year old go on a "date" in town unchaperoned.

The second issue is the 'online long distance relationship.' This is a murky and, as already addressed, dangerous game your child is playing. Even if you have had personal contact with the other party, there is no real way of knowing the true nature of that person online. What do her parents say? Have you met (online or phone) and talked with them? I'll not mention all the various scams and ploys used online to lure our youth away, but these are the types of things you should also be considering.

As a final thought, you should be aware that... from personal experience, having someone who 'gets' you and is always there to tell you what you want to hear is a powerful thing. While exploring the idea that one can have a different sexuality (well, different 'anything' as currently 'norm'), among other things, having someone in your ear (or in a chat window) enabling you to think that this or that is "OK" and acceptable, you start to push boundaries among other things. It is then easy to push and lash out at parents or authority because only that person truly understands you. Your daughter more than likely didn't come to the decision of her sexuality on a whim, or because of an abiding attraction to all things women, but most likely from the deep personal (and mutual) relationship fostered over time with this other girl online. And while one might also see the benevolence or innocence of this because they are both girls of the same age, your original question plays to my point. What if the other party was a 31 year old male used car salesman from across town? Or, a close personal friend your husband grew up with whom had recently divorced? You might call these fictional men predators... so, why are you, your husband, and some of the others who've answered, so quick to ignore this other girl as one as well? Even if this other girl is everything she says she is, is her desire for your daughter really as innocent as you want to believe it is?

Edit: I forgot to put an actual solution for you here, forgive me.

Solution: Vet the other girl. Then, find out the strength of the bond your daughter has with her by removing their ease of access to each other. Only allow her contact via snail mail. If it is 'true love' the added work and wait won't diminish the relationship. She will perceive this as a punishment, and it is very similar to one. As a parent you have to be able to put your children in difficult positions 'for their own good.' Your daughter has had entirely too much freedom and has abused it. She has fostered a relationship that has questioned her sexuality at an age where actual sex shouldn't be a topic. This is little different from actually having sex and getting pregnant. She has further weakened your trust in her by causing this issue inside your family, and pushing for something you are clearly not comfortable with. In truth, at 14, it shouldn't be an issue at all, politically correct or otherwise (going back to by first point about her using it to manipulate the situation) and as such her actions should be curtailed (or punished) as a matter of course.

This may seem harsh, but are you her parent, or a by-standing friend who allows her to make any choice she wants regardless of consequence? If it's traveling across country now b/c "I'm gay," what will it be next time?

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    What's the purpose in disallowing the kids from communicating in their natural way? Why is the daughter finding someone who helps her voice her sexuality worthy of punishment? Why do you assume the relationship made her question her sexuality, rather than the other way around? Why does her sexuality necessarily mean she's considering sexual acts? How has she weakened the family's trust by trusting them with information that's usually very difficult to share with parents and asking a question? Why does the daughter deserve punishment at all? – user11394 Dec 20 '14 at 8:18
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    "She will perceive this as a punishment, and it is very similar to one. [...] Your daughter has had entirely too much freedom and has abused it. She has fostered a relationship that has questioned her sexuality at an age where actual sex shouldn't be a topic." So, basically, your advice is to punish the kid for being a lesbian because being a lesbian is an abuse of her freedom. Sheesh. You're jumping to a whole lot of conclusions here, as well as advocating a ridiculous fairy-tale model of going on some quest to "prove true love". – David Richerby Dec 20 '14 at 10:09
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    "She has fostered a relationship that has questioned her sexuality at an age where actual sex shouldn't be a topic." Fourteen is well into puberty, and sex needs to be a topic of discussion. You also seem to conclude that the daughter would have been heterosexual if not for this online girlfriend, which is a big (and bigoted) assumption to make. I appreciated some of the points you made about the impulsiveness of teenagers and lack of information about this particular crush, but this answer is overall unhelpful. – Acire Dec 20 '14 at 15:14

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