My daughter (17 years old) doesn't listen to me, but when a stranger says a few kind words to her she is like "Look Dad, he/she is such a good man/woman".

I have learned that she has a boyfriend. She constantly keeps in contact with this guy. But I am not sure about him.

Many times, we have discussed this topic and had heated discussions as well as fights.

Still, she doesn't listen to what the family-members say; she prefers to listen to the strangers. She becomes so friendly that she chats with anyone and gets friendly very quickly.

In fact, she did run away from home twice with that guy and she has no regrets for her act. We tracked her down later, but she simply doesn't care any more. We have lectured her a number of times. But she is very stubborn and doesn't seem to understand the depth of the matter.

I also don't want my daughter to be angry at me.

Now, in what words should I explain to her that this world is a very bad place to live with strangers?

  • 6
    She's seventeen years old and you haven't had a conversation about this yet? That alone seems unwise, but I suppose better late than never.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 19:49
  • 8
    Your daughter is at far more risk of harm from siblings, then parents, then other members of her family, than she is from strangers. Teach her some simple safety measures (around alcohol; taking a photograph of any car she gets into and texting it to a trusted person) but really, 17 is way too late.
    – DanBeale
    Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 22:23
  • 6
    I get the impression this isn't the "don't take candy from strangers" kind of wariness. Rather, it's about teaching her daughter to properly judge people by more than just charismatic appearances. That is a skill which many people unfortunately lack, and hard to teach. 17 isn't too late. I think younger kids and early teens would have a hard time separating kind appearances/words from goodness. However, I do think we need more details: What is it your fear about these "strangers"? Are they shady characters, or is your daughter just a really good people person?
    – user11394
    Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 3:29
  • 14
    This might be unpopular - but maybe try treating her as an adult (since she is almost one) and not a kid. Also, thinking that world is full of 'bad people' is a very sad place to be. Given that you called our daughter 'dumb' in another comment, I think the issue might be your attitude more than hers. Sorry.
    – Ida
    Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 22:29
  • 6
    Who exactly are these strangers? Fellow teenagers? Shopkeepers? Restaurant owners? Hobos living in the alleys?
    – Pharap
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 11:10

4 Answers 4


First of all, you've waited too long. Seventeen is a young adult age, no matter what you may think of her personal ability to handle this status, and you should have addressed this years ago, before the topic of boys began to cloud this issue.

But, better late than never.

You need to understand that if you're telling your seventeen year old not to spend time with boys that she likes, when you haven't already had a conversation about how strangers can be dangerous even when they act charming, you're fighting a very tough battle. And you aren't going to do yourself any favors if you take an antagonistic role.

Try to separate this talk from any specific person - talk to her personally and privately about the danger of putting unrestricted trust in a person, even one who she has known for months or years. Do not accuse her of behaving badly, or suggest she has done anything wrong. You are giving her advice, and hopefully you have raised her well enough to recognize this.

Presumably, she will be starting secondary school soon, and you won't be there to protect her. If your concern is what she will do when she's on her own, do mention that. Show your concern, and show that you are worried for her. It leaves a much deeper and more compelling impact than trying to tell her she's making mistakes.

Your daughter is at an age where your control over what she does is fading away, and fading fast. You need to make it clear to her that she has to take responsibilty for her actions, and that there are serious consequences of not being careful, and in trusting the wrong people.

You should also inform her of what to do if she does get into trouble, because there's always a chance, even if you've raised your daughter well, that bad things can happen. Tell her that she shouldn't hesitate to call 911 if she gets into an emergency, and to know the number to her local police wherever she goes to live. Let her know what to do in emergencies, if she is being stalked or if she is hurt or, god forbid, if she is raped. Consider getting her an emergency kit for such an event if she's going off to live on her own soon, and have a private, personal conversation about such a possibilty with her.

Your daughter is at an age where she is about to go out into the world on her own, and it can be very scary for a parent to see that happen. You need to have a conversation with her about those dangers, but don't panic her, and don't try to tell her how to live her whole life. She will make mistakes. Hopefully, you can tell her how to avoid big mistakes, and teach her how to overcome them if and when they happen.

  • Infact, she did run away from home 2 times with that guy and she has no regrets for her act. We tracked her down later. But she simply doesnt care any more. We have lectured her a number of times. But she is very stubborn to understand the depth of the matter. She is also not that much educated and she has no idea of how bad the world is..
    – Nevermore
    Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 5:47
  • 2
    @Nevermore Please add these details to your question. They are very important to take into account.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Mar 17, 2015 at 14:53

Instead of pushing her away by showing animosity towards her boyfriend, have you considered inviting him in, getting to know him and making him feel welcome? If she didn't tell you about him sooner, it's probably because she thought you'd be judgemental about her decision (which is normal, children generally do care a lot about their parent's opinions, no matter how much it may seem otherwise).

If you show that you're accepting of her boyfriend, she'll bring him to the house more, which means she'll be happy and you can keep an eye on him. Not a close eye, but close enough that you can make sure he's not doing anything untoward. If he has opinions you disagree with, discuss them with him over dinner with your daughter present so she can make up her own mind and has opportunity to decide who she agrees with. (Discuss, do not argue - ask why he holds those opinions and say why you disagree, and do not tell him his opinion is wrong).

As for the strangers, there's very little you can do about that now. If at 17 your daughter does not have apprehensions about strangers, she won't develop them until she has a bad experience.


I have a 17yo daughter and the advice and information provided is not helpful. I have always had a fantastic relationship with my daughter and now I don't know who she is. Obviously she's trying to work that out herself, but being rude, mean, and disrespectful just doesn't cut it in the real world.

I have resorted to treating her the way she treats me. She doesn't like it. I have no issue with her running her own life and I give her the space to do that, however she is still not happy with ANYTHING!

There is nothing we as parents can do except give them a dose of reality ie: you don't want to be part of the family. So we go and do family things without you. Not in a malicious way, more that you have your life and we have ours. I show that I have accepted her decisions with actions (not verbally because whenever I open my mouth she yells at me) but still being supportive of her by not saying anything, not giving advice, and simply letting her go. Guess what? It's still not good enough according to her.

There is no answer to the question. We just have to ride the wave and hope we last to the very end of it all and that they actually develop and choose to be descent human beings.

  • Hang in there, 17 is a rough age to be at. it will pass and they will grow. My sister went through this phase and is only just coming back out of it at 21. She was a nightmare for my mum from the age of 12. She was the definition of a bad attitude and that everything was someone else fault.
    – Bugs
    Commented May 30, 2017 at 9:01

This might be less about trusting strangers and more about being defensive about criticism from family, and merely pointing to someone who does not disagree with her as validation.

I don't know enough about the communications dynamic in your family, but if most of your interactions with her are of the "you are young and foolish, you need to listen to me," then she might be reacting to feeling dismissed, and latching onto anything that shows that she's her own person.

Even if you have the wisdom and experience, and her decisions are clearly not carefully considered, you have to find a way to get her to see that, from her own perspective, or she will (if this is a factor) reject it out of hand as being critical of her, not trying to help.

This means you have to listen, very, very carefully. Let her express her needs, why she feels the need to do what she does, and understand what she might be looking for from you. You need to put yourself firmly in her shoes, and see things from her perspective (does not automatically mean you agree), and communicate to her in a way that she understands that you appreciate where she is coming from.

Once you have that common ground, then you can explore, from her point of view, the reasons and consequences for her actions, and find alternatives, or, at least, a different method, that can address whatever it is she seems to be thinking she is getting from her choices, but in a more healthy, mutually beneficial fashion.

It is pretty late to the game, and it's not going to be easy, but you need to understand it's not something you are going to be able to impose, by your own force of will. The two of you have to get there together, which will probably mean more listening and less telling than you are probably used to.

Even if this were not the case, it's a tough age where they are undergoing rapid changes, physically and emotionally. They want to be adults, but really don't understand the scope of the responsibilities that come with that freedom. Because they don't truly understand it, they feel frustrated at not being given free reign to do as they please. But the time will come, soon enough, that it will all be on them, so, as parents, we need to be there to help with that transition, and we need to help make that transition happen by giving more and more of that freedom and responsibility, over time.

  • I'm such a dolt. I really need to pay more attention to the timeframe on my answers. The daughter is, by now, a fully legal adult. Here's to hoping the answer is useful to someone else. Commented May 30, 2017 at 21:33

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