Roaming Daughter | Nosey Neighbor

Roaming Daughter

Dear Micah,

I have a 16 year old daughter living like she’s an adult.  Her friends are all older than she is.  Legal adult aged.  She goes places with them that aren’t okay with me.  I’m sure she’s been to clubs with a fake ID although I haven’t been able to find it.  I’m sure she’s drinking with them.  I hope that’s all she’s doing.  My daughter isn’t a bad kid though.  She’s really quite a good person.  I’m worried about what could happen to her though.  I’ve grounded her, taken her phone away, limited the friends she can see.  None of it has worked.  She still finds a way to see them and go off with them.  The final straw that broke the camels back for me was when I found out she ran off to Atlanta last week without her Dad or I knowing.    She was off in a strange city at night, all night, with just two girlfriends.  Anything could have happened to her although she won’t listen to me when I tell her this.  Help!

Worried Mom


Dear Worried Mom,

Heading off to a city like Atlanta for the evening at 16 sounds very scary.  It’s a dangerous world for a girl that age to be disappearing into the night with her friend,  Especially if she’s going off to places where she knows no one to reach out to if in trouble.  Atlanta can be a dangerous city.  That would be the final straw for me too.

I really don’t know what to tell you to tell her that could stop her from doing the things she wants to do.  You just can’t really stop a teen from doing things they really want to do.  I know many parents who think they can or think their kid isn’t actually doing these things, but they’re just parents who haven’t found out yet. A teenager thinks they are invincible and the sense of adventure and danger is the very thing that lures them to do the stupid stuff.

Your email made me think of once when I was an idiotic young person and I went off with friends caving.  Our locale was some obscure cave somewhere between Birmingham and Cullman, I couldn’t even tell you where exactly.  But during this caving “expedition,” things went very wrong.  I had no idea what “caving” even meant.  I had pictured walking through a picturesque cavern like Desoto Caverns–I had no idea that you crawled through mud and down through holes and tunnels and rock into the pits of the earth!

Needless to say, I learned fast.  Soon I was a mud-caked scraped-up young fool.  We had spent about two or three hours in this cave when suddenly the little ledge I was standing on gave way and I fell into a pit.  The one flimsy cord we brought, which would hardly qualify to be called a rope, wouldn’t reach me.  I was trapped in that pit.  My friends told me that they were going to have to go get more rope and would have to leave me there.  That was one of the scariest moments of my life.  I had no idea what the hell was down in that pit with me and I knew we’d been in those cave tunnels for hours.  It would take hours for my friends to get out, then the drive back for rope would take time, then the drive back to the cave, then more hours crawling to find me again–if they even could find the one tunnel I was in.

I realized then that I could actually be lost in this pit forever.  At the very least I would be the latest moron on the news when police and rescue teams had to swarm the cave to save me.  With the real fear of being left there alone in that pit to inspire me, I managed to lean backwards and put my back into the wall of that pit and slowly crawl and claw my way up inch by inch until my friends could grab my hands and pull me out.  The sheer terror of being left there alone gave me the adrenaline and strength I needed to get myself out.

BUT the point of this story was to illustrate that while in the hole it dawned on me how I had told absolutely no one that I was going to that cave.  The only people in the world that knew where I was were those two friends I came with.  My family didn’t know.  No other friends knew.  The whole thing had been one of those last minute bright ideas one of us had and we’d all hopped in the car and driven out to the boonies to a cave one of them knew about.  Cell phones weren’t prolific in 1994 when this happened, so that wasn’t a resource we could have used.   Besides, there wouldn’t have been a signal there anyway deep inside a cave.  So if my friends had ended up having to leave me there and then something happened to them we’d just be three dead kids in an Alabama cave that no one would have ever found.

You gotta admit that isn’t the first place your mind would go to when trying to think “Now where on earth could Micah be?”  So that little escapade became one of the life lessons that I hold so dear:  NEVER go anywhere without someone knowing where you are.  If there is only one thing you can get your daughter to retain during this wild phase, let it be that.  You may not be able to stop her from doing stupid stuff but try to see if she will agree to just alert a responsible adult when she is going to do something stupid.  Designate one trustworthy person to be her “guardian of secrets.”

Let’s use your best friend as example, we’ll call her Jessie.  Tell your daughter that though you are not giving her permission to continue to run off to faraway places on her own, if by chance she does ever sneak off to do something that she knows she shouldn’t, she can at least let Jessie know.  Sit she and Jessie down together and give her all of Jessie’s numbers and tell her (in front of Jessie) that she has your permission to share anything and everything with Jessie, and Jessie will never betray her confidence or tattle on her.  Tell her that you just need to know that one adult you trust has the knowledge of what’s happening even if it’s not you.  You can also tell her that this in no way means you are giving your permission for her to be wild—you should also remind her that she knows what the rules surrounding her life are, and if she ever breaks those rules, the same punishments apply that always have. However, if she’s going to break the rules anyway, at least have a trustworthy ally in her corner that knows the score.

If your daughter decides she’s running off one day to Atlanta to go to Six Flags with her friends, tell her that she needs to text Jessie and let Jessie know her whereabouts.  This way, if too much time passes and your daughter fails to come home and has missed curfew and you know something has gone wrong, you will have one person who can tell you where she was last expected to be.  Now if an emergency arises, you know where to find her.

Jessie isn’t just for road trips either.  Your daughter can text Jessie and tell her if she will be at a certain party, or out drinking, or if she is considering having sex.  Jessie could be the friend your daughter needs to supply support and perspective she might actually listen to.  Jessie will also be a good police officer for you because even though the point of this is to guard your daughter’s safety and not rat her out, if Jessie feels like patterns are developing or behaviors are getting dangerous, she is now on the inside and can give you some much needed intel if necessary.

Every teenager needs an adult that isn’t their parent to run to when in trouble.  I think my son and I will be very close when he’s a teen, but I also know that he will not tell me the things that I would want him to feel free to share with me.  So I will ask someone else to be that person for him.  Try that with your daughter.  You aren’t going to be able to stop her crazy choices, so provide her a safety net to catch her instead.


Nosey Neighbor

Dear Micah,

Two of my neighbors are secretly seeing each other while they’re supposed “better halves” are at work.  I am a stay at home mom and I see what’s happening every day.  One neighbor works from home and his girlfriend travels a lot with her job so she’s rarely there.  Two houses down is another stay at home mom and during the day while her kids are in school, she pops over to the guy’s house and stays for long periods of time.  I’m wondering if I should get involved and get my husband to say something to the woman’s husband.  This is a bad situation and I don’t know what, if anything , I should do.  I think it’s wrong to know this information and not say anything to the wounded parties.  Everyone I ask says that they would want to know if their spouse was cheating.  What do you say?

Nosey Neighbor


Dear Nosey Neighbor,

Everyone SAYS they’d want to know if their spouse was cheating, but what they mean is that they would want to know but not know that anyone else knows.  By your telling them you will be letting them know that you know.  Now if they decide to forgive and work on their marriage, it will make them very uncomfortable to be around you.  So if you are actually close friends, you can kiss that friendship goodbye.

Also, I want to point out that you aren’t even asking if you should get involved, you are really asking me if you should get your husband to get involved.  You want him to do the uncomfortable part while you just sit back and watch.  I have a feeling your husband would not get involved even if you asked him to.

But none of this really matters, because my opinion is that you need to keep your mouth closed.  All you really know is that one neighbor visits the other fairly often.  They could be friends.  Men and women can be friends and not sexual partners.  Although I will admit if I were seeing this dance taking place every day in my neighborhood, I would think the same thing you do.  But I still wouldn’t get involved.  It’s none of your business.  Maybe that man and woman are terrible people and are cheating and risking ruining everyone’s lives.  Maybe the woman’s husband is really cruel to her in private and the few stolen moments with this neighbor man is the only tenderness she has in her life.  Maybe the neighbor man’s girlfriend is good friends with the neighbor wife and she comes over to look after her friend’s husband and house while she’s out of town.  You really have no idea what their situation is and it doesn’t matter because it’s their situation.

Stay out of it.  You’re a stay at home mom, so I know that you have a ton of stuff to tend to everyday.  Tend to it and let your neighbors tend to their stuff.

If you have a question you’d like to ask Micah, please email it to Your question may be used in a future online or printed article in B-Metro.

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