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Dear John: Dad Wants To GPS-Stalk His Teen Daughter

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


What’s your problem? Write to John at [email protected].

Dear John,
I am the mother of a sixteen-year-old daughter. In most ways she’s a typical teenager – far from perfect, but a good kid. She recently got her learner’s permit.
Here’s my question. My husband bought a device he wears on his wrist that has a gps system in it. It’s to track your route online when you wear it running or bike riding. Well, he got the bright idea that when our daughter starts driving places by herself, he can hide this device in the car and monitor exactly where she’s driven! I am totally opposed to this for the simple reason that I believe my daughter when she tells me something. I don’t need proof. I know my husband means well and he’s very worried about our daughter being out driving around on her own, but this strikes me as sneaky and wrong. I’d like an objective opinion.
Trusting Mom

Dear Mom,
I agree with you. As the father of a daughter, I share your husband’s trepidation about seeing her venture off into the world. But what he wants to do is wrong. I don’t think teenagers who give you cause for suspicion have much of a right to privacy, but that description doesn’t apply to your daughter. Your husband has to trust her until she gives him reason not to.


Dear John,
My husband has suggested we “liven up” (his words) our marriage by having an open relationship. I asked him exactly what he meant by that, and he said we would both be free to have sexual relationships with no emotional involvement with other people. To be completely honest, our marriage is not great and we have talked about splitting up in the past. More than anything, we’re just bored. Bored at work, bored at home. So I guess I’m open to the idea – I don’t think it can hurt, and it may help, although I’m skeptical. What do you think? Can an open relationship possibly work?

Dear Open-Minded,
Can it “possibly” work? I guess so. Will yours? I seriously doubt it.
First, I have to say it’s very hard for me to imagine a healthy open relationship. I couldn’t do it, nor would I be interested in trying. But I realize that where matters of human sexuality are concerned, the world is a very diverse place. So with a bit of effort, I can envision a successful relationship between two people who already share an enthusiasm for this kind of arrangement when they meet.
But that hardly describes you and your husband, does it? You have an unfulfilling marriage held together mostly by inertia and apathy, and you think introducing one or two more people into the mix will provide the excitement that has either gone missing or was never there. Even your willingness to go along with the idea has a “whatever” quality to it. (“Want to order a pizza?” “Sure.” “Feel like having sex with other people?” “Okay.”)
This is a bad idea. Frankly, it doesn’t strike me as exciting nearly as much as it just sounds sad. You don’t mention whether you have kids, but I sincerely hope you don’t. If you and your husband are truly interested in salvaging your marriage, you need couples counseling. If you don’t want to do that, you should probably see an attorney. And not to have sex.

Dear John,
Okay, another Facebook letter, though not he typical boy/girl reconnect. This is a boy/boy reconnect. Years ago, my husband dumped a friend who was a total loser. We were starting a family and this guy’s lifestyle – basically hard partying every night and all weekend, including drugs – just wasn’t a good fit.
Well, now he’s back. At least a cleaned up version is, or so he claims. He says he’s grown up, hopes to start a family, blah, blah, blah. All I know is he’s a middle-aged guy who lives with his mother and has a loser job. And my husband wants to get together with him again! Why on earth would a smart, responsible, successful man even consider having someone like this as a friend?

Dear Baffled,
Reading your letter, I’d say probably just to get out of the house. You sound a bit…strident.
I don’t know this guy, but he may have great qualities. He may be very funny. He may be a brilliant non-conformist. He may like to talk about the Red Sox. How should I know? But he claims he’s matured, and I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.
I don’t know you either, but I know you think some contemptible things. Like an honest job is a “loser job” if it doesn’t meet your standards of refinement.
Don’t try to pick your husband’s friends for him. And don’t think deeming others losers automatically makes you a winner.

John is a middle-aged family man from Providence. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at [email protected].


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