So, my wife and I are emotionally drained. Our daughter is 17. We live in Ontario Canada. She met a girl online that is 16 and she wanted to fly to California over Christmas holidays to see her. Now my daughter says she is not gay, just bi or whatever it is that kids now are calling it. It doesn't matter what a person's sex is, it is about the person and that's fine, we have no issue with that.

We had a big argument about it and we told her straight out that she is not flying to California to meet someone. Apparently the girl in California has "strict" parents so my daughter thinks she can stay in a hotel and just hope that this girl can get away to see her.

As some background info, my daughter is a very immature 17 year old. Yes my wife and I have spoiled her, she is an only child and as a result, she is not very independent. We take her to school, take her to and from her job, she has never had a serious boyfriend or girlfriend.

So we thought we had diffused the situation. We have her passport and her birth certificate so she cant fly out of the country, but now last night she told us that she is going to go to California in April when she turns 18 no matter what.

We don't want her to go. We don't think its safe, my wife is in tears, its affecting us so much that it consumes our days. We don't know what to do. We don't even know if this girl is who she says she is. I have done some checking, phone record lookup, name search, address search.

My research shows 4 aliases on the phone number and 5 sealed court documents which are serious. Some solutions we have thought of, including offering to pay to have the girl come to our house. That would bring things up to speed with her parents.

How do we stop this?..how do we even get through the day?...How do we convince our extremely stubborn and head strong daughter that this is a bad idea?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. If you have further comments, please put them there!
    – Acire
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 0:35
  • I can't answer because I don't have enough score yet I believe I am very qualified to answer this question because I have been in extremely similar situation to the one your daughter is in. My parents do believe that I am completely independent (just exactly like you do). Yet I believe I am completely the opposite I just let others do what they can and focus on what I do best. whether your daughter behaves like I do or not. You came to conclusion that what you did didn't solve the problem but might slow things down abit.
    – u185619
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 18:10
  • so If I were in your shoes I will A) make sure that your daughter isn't really capable of handling things like if things didn't go according to plan how should one bahave. B) prepare her for traveling alone, like what should she do when she feels danger... dangers of meeting someone that you just knew online, and what precautions should be taken and all that sort of stuff I believe that if there is no way to stop her it is better to have here eyes opened to the dangers accompanying such actions. X
    – u185619
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 18:17
  • you have little less than one year to prepare your daughter, in worst case you will be relatively sure that she will be able to take care of herself, if you are lucky enough she might come to conclusion that visiting someone you knew online is not the best thing to do. Note : I should say that in my case my parents refuses me traveling no matter what with out listening to reason just because they believe I can't act on my own :(
    – u185619
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 18:20
  • So, April has come and gone. I'd like to know what happened with the OP and his daughter.
    – learner101
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 9:53

13 Answers 13


The way I see it there are two possibilities, either the story is true or it is not true. And in both cases your daughter needs your help.

If you manage to prevent your daughter from going to see this friend and thus she never learns if all she was told was true or not, she is likely going to keep thinking it was all true and blame you that she lost this friend.

Making your daughter understand that you are there to help her can be difficult. But maybe by being supportive in the right ways it may be possible.

If the story is true, then the other girl's strict parents are obviously getting in the way of the two girls getting a chance to meet. And having your daughter go alone and the other girl try to sneak out without her parents knowing is clearly not a good idea. And even that could get your daughter into trouble once those strict parents learn what is happening.

Instead I recommend you communicate directly with those parents to make arrangements for all of you to meet at a convenient time and place. If you do it that way you may be able to succeed in convincing your daughter you are helping deal with those strict parents rather than being another obstacle she has to get out of the way. That she may get to meet this friend a few months quicker by cooperating this way could help convince her that it is a better idea.

If the entire story is true chances are the other girl's parents are just as concerned as you are which is why they are being so "strict". This also means that they are just as interested in making the first meeting happen in a safe location as you are.

Should the entire thing turn out to be a scam you can be there once your daughter learns the truth. It may have cost you time and money to get to that point, but if it means your daughter will trust you more, it may have been worth it.

Just make sure you don't spend more time and money on this than you can afford, and don't agree to meet that family in some dodgy location where you wouldn't have wanted to take your daughter in the first place.

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    What if the parents are "strict" because they don't support their daughter's homosexuality? Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 13:36
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    @called2voyage - Honestly, why the other parents are "strict" is not my concern in this case - I would want to protect my daughter from getting trapped in a foreign country by unknown individuals, and the choices other parents make about their daughter is not a factor to me - I want to know who these parents are and make sure they are aware of the situation, stating with the common ground that both parents care about the well being of their offspring.
    – PhasedOut
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 14:32
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    @PhasedOut I don't necessarily disagree, but not all parents will still demonstrate care for their child's wellbeing when presented with the fact that their child was seeking a homosexual relationship. This can be a delicate situation, and it may be one you ultimately decide is too fragile to risk your daughter getting involved in. There are alternative paths though. If the girls wanted to maintain an online relationship until the younger was independent, for example. All I'm saying is that immediately communicating directly with the parents is not always best. Get to know the girl first Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 14:41
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    @PhasedOut The "common ground that both parents care about the well being of their offspring" isn't necessarily true though. If the parents are strict due to religious or cultural beliefs, they may well consider their child's happiness (and indeed their life) to be irrelevant compared to the child complying with that religious/cultural dogma. I'd certainly want to talk to the girl though, to ensure my child was safe.
    – Graham
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 15:45
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    @graham I agree. In many ways this answer gives bad advice. It depends on the other girl's parents but I know quite a few LGBT people and while many of them have lovely accepting parents...some really really don't. You could potentially get the other girl disowned, thrown out of the house, punished, sent off to a camp to be "cured", or in extreme cases physically abused or even killed.
    – Tim B
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 20:16

Either you go with her, or she doesn't go.

I'm not really sure what the correct answer is, but I can tell you that letting her go alone is the wrong answer. She might not even make it to her "friend" before being picked up / coerced by someone else.

Please do not let her go alone. If she does go, please follow her even without her permission. It might turn out to be a waste of time/money, but it's much better than the horrible nightmare that could happen.

Don't let her be a victim of sex trafficking.

Let her be the victim of a broken heart, it will heal

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    That is a perfect response and exactly how we feel. Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 20:35
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    Going with her is a good idea. Recommended steps: 1. Meet with the girl as a family in public. 2. If that goes well, allow the girls some alone time in a more controlled environment (for example, the lobby or dining area of the hotel where you stay, so you can be nearby). Even if you don't want to allow the girls in a situation where they could have sex, some alone time for them would be good for them to see if they bond as well in person as they did online. Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 20:47
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    @DaveFarrington There are plenty of things to see and do in CA, so absolutely go with her. Plan a fun family trip with some time built in for your daughter to meet her friend (and a backup plan for that time if the "friend" disappears because your daughter won't be alone and vulnerable).
    – Rob Watts
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 22:19
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    @RobWatts has a great idea. Your daughter wants to meet someone she feels close to; there's plenty of things she'd enjoy doing with them. You've argued, so it'd also help repair your family relationships to do something fun. Explain to her that as parents you want to support her and let her do her thing, but as parents, you want her to be safe and this situation worries you. For those reasons, you're going to go with her, so that she can do what she wants, and you can feel she's safe, and everyone wins. Set up some fun trips or something at the start, then when you're happy, let them be alone. Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 11:42

The previous replies do not address the worry about the identity of the girl in CA. One suggestion is to tell your daughter that you and your wife need to talk to the girl in CA via Skype. You can talk about how long the trip will likely be, what they plan to do, and get to know the girl by asking what she does. Maybe even talk to an adult in her life (and get their contact). Also get a direct contact to the girl in CA, to be used strictly in case you cannot get a hold of your daughter (test call so that its hers).

Limit the trip to just 1 or 2 days since this is the first time with a round trip ticket. Some petty cash for expenses and a credit card with a low limit should be good. You can even make a reservation in a hotel so that you know where she stays. (All this assumes that you/ your daughter can afford it, otherwise there is no trip without the money. You should pay some part of it so that she is still accountable to you.)

The key here is to be friendly with an open mind. Being confrontational will surely shut her down and likely do what she wants without telling you. You atleast need to know where to look for her in case of trouble. Those two days will probably the longest, most tense two days of your life.

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    +1. Getting to know the girl is a better option than assuming the worst. You may have experience and judgement, but sometimes parents forget that they're not always right and their child has judgement too. You know the risks, but are overlooking the benefits of a successful long distance relationship. As other answers note, the goals are not to "keep them safe", and preventing them from having someone to turn to, whether it's you (by overprotection) or the friend (by removing her relationship), you will cause more damage than getting to know the girl your daughter is interested in.
    – Anoplexian
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 16:31
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    "Being confrontational will surely shut her down and likely do what she wants without telling you" - this is the most important part. The daughter is about to become a legal adult and the degree to which she respects her parents opinion is dependent on how much her parents treat her with respect
    – Jason B.
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 1:49
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    This is good advice. If it were me, I would insist on speaking to the other girl's parents. If the arrangement is "real" (that is, the other girl actually exists and isn't a sexual predator pretending to be a teenage girl), then her parents may well be just as concerned as you are. Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 7:02
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    Also - ask your daughter about the other girl often in a non-judgmental way. Teenagers can sometimes think better and more critically if talking. Ask about details, how they met online (a fan forum for a show she likes or a dating site?), what the other girl's favorite class is, etc. Ask questions that will illuminate how well she knows the other girl (it's a red flag if the girl has no history or facts beyond that she's in love with your daughter).
    – McCann
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 14:51

Frist, it's helpful to be clear about what your goals as a parent are. For us, it's always been "help our kids to turn into independent, happy and responsible adults". Don't get stuck on "need to protect them and keep them safe", they need to learn how to do this themselves.

In order to become independent kids, need to be able to try things on their own. They will sometimes succeed and they will sometimes fail. It is very important that they experience the consequence of good and bad decisions. That's how you learn. You don't become responsible by turning 21, you become responsible by messing up a lot on the way there and learning from your messes.

One of our sons moved to a different country for a while when he was 17. He had some travel experience already and so we sat down with him and discussed what he would need in terms of housing, food, social environment etc. and came up with a plan & budget. Within this budget he could do whatever he wanted, and off he went. He's been living in three different countries so far and it's been great: he is indeed independent, responsible and happy.

Back to your specific question

  1. When she is 18 you cannot legally force your daughter to do anything. You can still exert force on her economically or emotionally but that's only going to make things worse.
  2. You need to come up with a plan to address her being "very immature".Think about ways how she can do thing on her own with you taking the training wheels off quickly.
  3. It's okay for her to make mistakes and fail. That's how we learn. Be clear about boundaries and make them simple and reasonable. Example: "No physical damage to other people", "no damage to property","do okay in school". But inside this boundaries, let her do whatever she wants. Only interfere if she asks you to or if there is a boundary violation.
  4. Money and budget is a good starting point: Give her a fixed budget but make sure that this covers stuff that she actually needs like clothing or school lunches. If she goes to the movies, she can't buy the new jeans. Her choice.
  5. Talk with her about the California trip and help her think it through and visualize it. "How will you get there?". "Do you know how to get around in an airport, check-in, security, gates?". "Do you know how to get from/to an airport?". "Where will you stay?". "Have you found a place to stay yet?", "what will you eat?". "how much money will you need and how much money do you have?" "how long will you stay? " when do you know it's time to leave?". If she has good answers to all of these questions, she may actually ready to go. If not, it helps her visualize where all the trouble spots are and she can get working on them.
  6. She may not be ready to take this trip yet, but that is something that she needs to understand herself. Your job is to help her assess for herself whether she is ready or not.
  7. If she isn't ready you should think about what you can do to get her there. You may not like it, but your job as a parent is to enable your kids to do things independently, even if you don't like what they are planning on doing.
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    This covers the trip well but I believe misses a critical point that I think is extremely worrying to OP: Who is this girl? How does OP's daughter know she is who she says she is? The internet is a scary place where people can pretend to be whoever they want. How can we be sure this girl is not some middle aged man? Hearing this aspect of the situation alone was like getting red flags thrown into my face. The trip is one thing. Meeting a stranger from the internet is entirely it's own concern. Validate those details, and I'm guessing OP would be much more at ease. Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 15:56
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    That is really the #1 issue. She said we could call the mother but how do you know that's even real? My daughter is impressionable, and thinks everyone is a nice and good person. My research shows 4 aliases on the phone number and 5 sealed court documents which are serious. Some solutions we have thought , offer to pay to have the girl come to our house..that would bring things up to speed with her parents. if the dad is so strict, can I do anything to get him involved? suggest my wife or myself go to California with my daughter. Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 16:07
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    @DaveFarrington Personally, those are excellent ideas. Your daughter sees the better part of the world, and that's great, but lend her your experiences and tell her what you're afraid is happening. As someone who finds people for a living, some of the lookup sites are a bit out of date and may show old information. Your solutions are good ideas, specifically the second one. If you're uncomfortable with the trip in general, go with her, and make it into a vacation for yourself or the family, and let her do her own thing while making sure she's safe.
    – Anoplexian
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 16:44
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    "It's okay for her to make mistakes and fail" - being sold as a sex slave is not something which is easy to recover from.
    – vsz
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 21:25
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    @DaveFarrington: the extra information "My research shows 4 aliases on the phone number and 5 sealed court documents which are serious." is huge. It changes the character of the question entirely and totally needs to go in the question. Also, teach your daughter how to verify that sort of thing herself.
    – smci
    Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 1:49
So, my wife and I are emotionally drained.
my daughter is a very immature 17 year old. Yes my wife and I have spoiled her, she is an only child and as a result, she is not very independent.
We sacrificed a vacation to the Caribbean last year to take my daughter to Florida and she never even got under the covers in bed. She texts until she passes out. It's sad. This year we aren't going away again because we are too afraid of what might happen. I don't think she even knows how much we are upset and hurting.

The other answers have addressed the specific situation of your daughter wanting to take a trip to California. However, it seems like this trip to California is a symptom of several bigger problems that have existed for some time.

Have you thought about bringing in some sort of third party, such as a counselor or a therapist? It sounds like you and your wife are stressed out, and it's also possible that your daughter might be rebelling against you for some unknown reason. Getting a third party involved would take some of the pressure off you and your wife. A therapist would be able to give you professional advice, which is something we can't do online. It's also possible that your daughter might be willing to tell things to a third party that she wouldn't tell you.

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    I wish I could upvote this 50 times. The highest-rated answers address the symptom very well, but if the disease isn't handled, the problem will remain. Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 16:57

10 or so years ago, I went through something very similar as a 18 year old girl. I tell this story as an example of how these things can work, if delt with appropriately.

I met a boy online, 5 years older than me, and we became very good friends. I told my parents about him, and (as parents do) they were very sceptical. They happened to by travelling to his part of the country and met up with him for coffee while they were there.

A few months later, he flew to meet me. My parents knew he was coming, they approved, and they came with to the airport to fetch him. He stayed at our home while he was visiting. We all got on very well with him. He was legitimate and honest.

We started dating, he eventually moved to where I lived, and now we've been married for 7 years.

So how did this go so well?

  • I told my parents about him. Your daughter has done the same. This is great! It means that she trusts you and isn't hiding this from you.
  • My parents were careful to be sure he was legitimate. They met him themselves, without me. It just so happened they were able to do so in person, but this could also be over skype, a video call, whatever.
  • They were involved in the entire process. This was a "family" thing. It wasn't just my mission. My parents made it our mission.
  • My parents took me seriously. They respected my desire to meet this friend. It wasn't brushed off and immediately just turned down as a crush. They respected my desire and treated me as an adult. (This was something I suppose I'd earned, but not consciously. My parents and I had a great relationship by this point).

It is also appropriate is that you talk to the friend's parents. My parents did try, but weren't able to get into contact with my friend's parents because of other reasons, but it is really important that they are on board too.

You are much better equipped to help your daughter through this - she can't handle this minefield alone.


As someone who did one of those trips twenty years ago, there are some red flags here, but maybe not the ones you're thinking of. And most of them can be solved much more easily now that there's internet.

The big flag I see is that it doesn't sound like your daughter is exactly.. invited. Yes, her friend wants her to come visit, but do her parents? And "hoping she can get away to see her" means there's a very real possibility this kid is actually grounded and your daughter is going to spend a lot of money to sit alone in a hotel room for two days.

This would be my gameplan.

One - you need to meet this girl online. Video calls are everywhere, so it shouldn't be a problem for your daughter to make the introductions. (This is important, since you want to make sure the person you're talking to is the person your daughter has been talking to.) Have a chat about whatever, be friendly, ask some probing questions. Basically, you need to satisfy yourself that your daughter is planning to visit a Human Female Teenager. Or, if your daughter starts getting heebie-jeebie "man, she's acting different" vibes, that might convince her this is a bad idea.

Two - then you need to talk to the parents. If your daughter complains, point out that you wouldn't let her go for a sleepover down the block without the parent's permission, so why would she expect to go across the country? Again, this works best with parents + kids involved together - it's entirely possible that the other parents are just as worried about you being perverted monsters, after all (Or they may be squicked at an almost-18 year old chatting up their sixteen-year-old.) At it's heart, you're just organizing a sleepover on a larger scale, and if they approve of it, that solves a lot of the "stuck by yourself in a strange town" problems. (Now, if "strict" means what I think it does, you may need to gloss over some details here, and figure out during step one what everyone is comfortable with.) I'd say it's worth putting "if you prefer, she could come visit us" on the table, even if everyone is pretty sure that won't fly. They're parents, just like you - give and take are necessary.

If you can get that far, then it's just a logistics and expense puzzle (and really, I'd be telling the kids to start saving at least some of the pennies). Ideally all the parents are comfortable with the idea of a visit (even if there's some parental blindness about some details), and are reassured that everyone is a Normal Human.

Otherwise, hopefully your daughter sees that going to see someone who very likely isn't going to be allowed out of the house for the duration is a bad idea - worst case, she just has to keep it as a LDR until her friend is 18 as well.

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    +1 for pointing out that the daughter may not be invited and could wind up spending a lot of time twiddling her thumbs in a strange city.
    – aleppke
    Commented Dec 9, 2016 at 20:53
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    "I really want you to come, but my parents are too strict" can be code for, I'm not actually comfortable with you coming, but I don't want to hurt your feelings, so I'll blame the obvious scapegoat - parents. Commented Dec 15, 2016 at 23:16
  • @BaneStar007 Very true - something to watch for signs of when you're chatting with them. Commented Dec 16, 2016 at 3:43

She hasn't yet learned that the internet is a spectacular gateway for fraud and deceit. My opinion isn't much different than the chosen answer but I wanted to give minor insight to the illusion the pseudo anonymity the internet can fabricate even for people who would otherwise be considered mature and sane.

Officially I agree. She doesn't go or you go with her and try to be supportive.

Now to illustrate, a while back my perfectly adult and otherwise relatively sane cousin was about to fly a girl from the UK to California because they were really into each other and chat constantly, etc. Probably not much different than your case except back then video chat wasn't so available. Last minute he asked me if I thought she would be upset to find out he's not the rugged, perfectly sculpted professional skateboarding champion he claimed he was when she arrived. I asked if he was serious and it turns out he was the one painting the illusion thinking it was just what you do online. You be who you want to be, not who you are. He confessed to her before she got on the plane and of course it went down exactly as you'd imagine.

We can't all be talked into sanity. If you meet someone in a coffee shop, bar, grocery store, on facebook, tinder, or in jail you cannot definitively prove anything they say about themselves or their relatives are factual until you get to know them. So what path you choose to take to clarify that is up to you, but remember what it was like to be young. If you say no, will she hear no? Or will she conclude that she has to get there without you being able to stop her?

Personally I'd express interest in her relationship with her friend. I admit a little for the psychology of her reducing interest just because I am so interested, but also because I don't want to dictate my childrens' lives, or inversely, whole heartedly trust the world. But openness and a willing to try to go with her might be the support and safety she needs to clarify whether or not the picture is an illusion or accurate. That way, if she needs to run, she won't have to run far.


"She has met a girl online that is 16 and she wanted to fly to California over Christmas holidays to see her."

This isn't real. It doesn't matter if you have looked someone up with that name and address. The bad guys can do that as well and they do.

The internet is a far darker place than you can even imagine. There are many predators in all forums for kids and young adults. This is what you need to teach your daughter right now.

Start by talking to her about how many people are being scammed by email and on the internet. When you think she understands how people can be scammed tell her that she is being scammed right now.

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    That is too dark a vision IMO As much as we knew people in buses or entertainment events in past days, nowadays people met each other in the Internet. Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 17:25
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    I met my wife on the Internet at age 16. I took a bus alone to meet her in Memphis when I had just turned 18. Sounds sketchy in isolation but the circumstances were a lot safer than you would imagine. The key here is for the parents to get to know the girl. Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 18:17
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    I'm not sure I'd -1, but the internet is also a small place... you hear of EVERYTHING bad and nothing good that happens... because bad grabs headlines and good doesn't. I met my fiance via online as well - and countless other friends. You HAVE to be careful (because there ARE bad people out there), but to give into fear like this is... worrysome...
    – WernerCD
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 20:02
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    @DaveFarrington "just wish kids these days would lift their heads up and look around" Neither my wife or I fit that description. If your daughter does, then what you are looking at is a deep culture change. That is beside the point though, the fact of the matter is there is a smart way for her to go about this and a not so smart way. She may not be well equipped, but you are. She asked you about it instead of lying and trying to do it anyway. I know someone who lied and things didn't go as well. Your daughter is doing this pretty smartly so far by at least being honest with you. Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 20:34
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    @DoritoStyle And I hope you don't take away from this that I'm saying there's no concerns. There are but "This isn't real" is just wrong. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. The daughter is about to be 18. She needs to be educated, not shielded. Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 20:38

After you get over this situation.you should focus to get her responsible. Start by teaching cooking and one day just ask her that you want to taste her cooked food. For now your best course of action would be to ask her some time and delay her as much as you can(I know she said april but even more) just say some obvious reason(from what I think to avoid some potential surprise delay is better). What's most important is that your daughter should be safe. I Personally don't trust internet by even 1 bit ( you should see my computer it has no antivirus and yet I manage to stay out of trouble) but few people claim to meet other people normally on the internet.Internet is not bad or dangerous...its more like "you should know what you are doing/clicking" and that way it is highly fruitful.
Above all try to calm down and think this through. It will get difficult for you to think in such tension. I will suggest nothing else as other good answers have said what else I wanted to say.


Regardless of the issues concerning her desire to go meet someone, there are real issues with kids that age travelling alone.

Even, for example, a road trip within the same state with a trusted friend known to the family can be rejected because youngsters can’t rent cars and have trouble with checking into hotels without a parent etc.

So don’t make it about the rendevous. Make it about her not being ready to travel alone to an unfamiliar place.

  • I am not entirely informed on how California might operate as I never traveled there when I was under 21yrs, but the state I live in, you cannot rent a reputable room if you are under 21yrs old. The only places that allow an 18year old to check in are sketchy at best. You can't rent a car until 25yrs here. I can't see it as a logical plan, as it's more than just "I want to". At 17, you can't rent any place at all anywhere that I have ever seen other than maybe at a place that offers hourly rates.
    – threetimes
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 8:28

I am so sorry that this issue is so upsetting for you.

I truly think that if you have been good parents, she will be an independent and functioning adult. She is bound to make choices that you disagree with, but the tools you've given her over the years will start to be used now, that she is an adult. I am a Canadian too, and travelled all over the USA at 18 and made a few poor choices, sure -- but leaned heavily on what lessons my parents had taught me. I came through unscathed and I travelled in a VW bus with a rock band. Horrors! I am in my 60s now. (I went to University, taught for years and am a successful and happy adult.)

Suggest that she chooses a public place for her first few meetings. Suggest that she has cash on her and a credit card all the time. Remind her that everyone has a sob story and that her priority is to look after herself. If she spends all her money, you'll see her home and she'll owe you every penny plus interest for that help. Taxis are expensive, but safer than any other option after 11pm.

I hope you know that it is perfectly okay for you to say 'no' while she is 17. Same as she gets to make adult choices when she is one. It is also perfectly okay for you not to pay for this trip. Adults do not ask Mum and Dad for help doing things when Mum and Dad don't like the plan.

I also think giving her a credit card with a limit of $500. in case of an EMERGENCY, is a good backup plan. Tell her it is not for drinks, or drugs, or hotel, or anything but getting her home in one piece. It is still not legal to drink alcohol in CA under 21. Please make sure she knows that the US owes Canadians no special treatment and that breaking the law here, is no picnic for non-citizens. She could potentially lose the right to ever travel in the USA if she were to be convicted of drug or alcohol or other crimes. (Even if she is just present when someone else commits a crime.)

Remind her about STDs -- though of course she'll be unhappy about that.

Remind her that it is legal for open carry and (some may carry) concealed weapons in many states. CA is one of them. I have lived in CA and Texas and honestly I am not afraid, but I am concerned and I do think about where I am and what I am doing. (On edit: I am NOT suggesting that anyone carry a weapon, just pointing out that it is very different than say Toronto. I know because I lived in Canada for 45 years and Toronto for 32 of those. I've lived in CA and TX and see people with weapons frequently.) This means I choose to stay completely sober when I am in public or have to take any transportation.

As for the 16 year old girl she is meeting... that does make me wonder. I'd suggest that 'hoping she can get out of her parent's home' means she is still a minor (or worse, is not telling the truth), and that without your daughter talking to the parents and saying she'd like to meet up with their daughter, she is acting like she is not an adult. Adults can live openly and honestly. If there is nothing to hide, there is no reason to lie or not tell the entire truth.

I wish you luck with this. The hardest job left for you is to let go. You spend years taking care of every need or want and trying to teach your child to be the best they can be -- and then you have to allow them to do it.

ON EDIT: The more I read about this, the more concerned I become. The sixteen year old girl has to be visible and your daughter has to have seen her at least through Skype or Facetime and she also needs to consider that IF the girl is exactly who she says she is (though I am doubting it), then she is a minor and your daughter could be charged for interfering with her. I met people on my travels, but I was prepared and knew to stay in public, have a plan, not drink anything that did not come in a sealed container or to leave a drink unattended. It sounds like your daughter does not have this preparation. Best of luck with this!

  • Legal open/concealed carry aside, illegal carry of firearms by criminals is also very common. While licensed carriers (at least in Texas) commit fewer violent crimes per capita than police officers, armed criminals are not rare.
    – Deolater
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 15:57
  • Which is why we need to be alert and consider where we are and with whom and stay sober.
    – WRX
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 16:18
  • Adults who have nothing to hide have no need to lie. It is worded badly. Thanks, I edited. An 18y/o needs to be aware of the dangers. This is my opinion.
    – WRX
    Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 16:50
  • Why not giving her a can of pepper spray instead of a gun? Commented Dec 7, 2016 at 17:29
  • 3
    A seventeen-year-old as immature as this girl is alleged to be is NOT someone who should be advised to carry a weapon, especially when living where it is illegal!
    – WGroleau
    Commented Dec 8, 2016 at 17:44

Taking a bit of a different tact to all of this, I would like to empower you two as parents. There are times when the generous and kind person that you two seem to be is harmful to the ones we love. As some people like to say "enabling".

So I have to ask the question: Where will she get the money to take this trip?

She works, as you indicate. So theoretically she could save the money from this job. But how does she get there? MD-Uber (mom and dad uber) provides the transportation free of charge. Where do her clothes come from (mostly, I bet, you guys). What does she eat or where does she lay her head at night (you guys).

Luckily she is still 17 so there is a bit of time. If she is mature enough to make the "travel to California by herself" decisions on her own then she can make other less risky decisions on her own as well. Like how she will get to work, how she will afford to buy clothing, how she will eat, and where she will live.

I am not opposed to providing a deep discount to the rent you would charge her to live with you, but hitting her up for $250 per month for her room and utilities might give her pause. I would probably really give her pause when you inform her that food is not included in that total. Next time she has to go to work simply inform her that she is on her own for that trip. Perhaps she can try the real Uber until she buys her own car. Have her walk to school instead of driving her. As long as it is still safe, winter time in Canada is a great time to drive home lessons in your generosity.

To me the bottom line this is a boundary issue. "I am old enough to make selective decisions about my future, but you guys have to take care of the rest", is what she is saying. At 18 she is legally able to travel on her own, but you are not legally required to provide for her like you have been doing. "You're welcome to take this trip sweetie, but could you please move your things out of your room before you go? Thanks. Oh, and let us know where you will be staying when you get back."

It's a bit harsh to treat your baby like that, but she really isn't a baby anymore and it is for her own good.

Oh and being emotionally drained is normal.

  • 2
    Your suggestion would be illegal in many countries. For example, in Belgium, parents are obliged to support their children financially up to the age of 25. You can take them to court to enforce this and it doesn't give them the right to make decisions for you if you are over 18. Very few exceptions apply. If you tried to murder your parents, they don't need to support you anymore. Any kind of lifestyle-choice, political- or religious disagreements are not a valid exception. (This is also not one sided since the same principle applies to children who are obliged to support elderly parents.) Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 10:26
  • I would assume that this is not the law in Canada. It certainly is not in the US. Thanks for the info, it is quite enlightening.
    – Pete B.
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 12:49
  • 2
    I mention it mainly because of the motivation behind such laws: Most professions nowadays (especially the attractive ones) require training beyond the age of 18. De facto, very few people can be truly financially independent at 18. Valuing early financial independence above everything else would lead to worse long term prospects. At the same time, we don't want young people to stay children who can't make any decision on their own. Many families solve this with a gentleman's agreement to support but limit interference. All these laws do is to protect those who can't reach such an agreement. Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 13:03
  • It is good of you to mention it, but it could do more harm to the intended beneficiary. The case you cite is very different than the OP's daughter in this case. She has a desire to live independently without responsibility.
    – Pete B.
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 13:22
  • Not sure if "going to go to California when she's 18" means going to visit or wanting to live there. In any case, when confronted with only two possibilities (hyperbole intended since teenagers perceive it like this) "do everything exactly as we say" or "be dead to us" she may well go for the second one even if she cannot realistically sustain herself. Hence the need for a middle ground solution. Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 13:30

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