Integrating Compassion with the Wisdom of God’s Word


The purpose of Aunt Dara’s Christian Advice Column is to glorify God by addressing human needs with compassion and the wisdom of God’s word.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Parents are Concerned about Teenaged Son’s Online Relationship

Dear Aunt Dara,

My husband and I are very concerned about our 17-year-old son.  He is a wonderful young man, does well in school, and has never given us any trouble.   He recently told us, however, that he has fallen in love with a 16-year-old girl that he met online.  The girl lives in another country thousands of miles away.  He has been communicating with her through texts and Skype for over a year, but has kept it a secret from us.  The girl's parents do not know about the relationship and she continues to keep it secret from them (they are also Christian, but are apparently very strict and will not allow her to have a boyfriend until she is 18).   Both the girl and our son say that they are deeply in love and hope to be together forever despite the long distance between them, despite having never met, and despite being from completely different backgrounds and cultures.

We are concerned, first of all, that this could be a scam to somehow get money from our son or our family.  We have tried to investigate this possibility, but the answer is inconclusive and I don't think we will ever know for sure, unless she eventually asks him to send her money (which she has not).  Secondly, even if this is not a scam, we are worried that this will be a distraction to our son, keeping him from meeting someone he could have a real future with.  He is going off to college this fall and has already said that he will never date anyone at college because that would be "cheating" on this girl that he has never even met.  It also bothers us that her parents are not aware of the relationship.  As Christian parents, we do not want our son to be involved in deceiving someone's parents.  If her parents knew, they would most likely not be in favor of this relationship either.  Their culture is one that does not look favorably on dating or marrying an outsider.  We have talked with our son at length about our concerns, but he is adamant that he and this girl are "meant for each other" and that their love will overcome any obstacles.  We don't see this as a typical teen relationship that will just fade away with time.

What should we do as parents?  How can we get him to understand the problems and potential dangers of this relationship?  We have prayed for wisdom in this situation and are really at a loss as to what we can do.  If we ban him from communicating with her, then we feel that he will rebel and will still talk with her behind our backs.  Plus, there is no way we can control his behavior when he goes away to college in a few months. However, if we do nothing we feel like this will continue for years to come, only to end in more heartbreak for everyone involved.  Should we somehow try to tell her parents about the relationship?  If you have any suggestions for us, we would kindly welcome them!

A Concerned Mom and Dad

Dear Concerned Mom and Dad,

Thank you so much for writing to me and trusting me with this situation.  I do not believe that you or your son are in any danger from this situation and I see nothing in your letter that would indicate that this might be a scam.  It's been over a year and the young lady has not asked your son for money.  Most scam artists act very quickly in asking for money so they can move on to their next victim.  I also do not think that your son is participating in deceiving her parents.  It is the girl's responsibility, and her responsibility alone, to tell her parents.  She is likely keeping it secret from them because she knows they would disapprove and she fears the possible consequences of their finding out.  Please do not interfere by contacting her parents, because that would surely make the situation worse for her.

Communicating on Skype is nearly the same as meeting in person because you can SEE and HEAR each other.  It is clear that your son has become very involved with this girl, emotionally.  You have already told your son what you think about this situation and explained the problems involved.  Any further effort that you take to stop your son's communication with this girl will just drive a wedge between you and your son and strengthen his resolve to continue the online relationship.

As I was reading your letter, a passage of scripture in Acts came to my mind.  Please look at Acts 5:17-39, and pay special attention to verses 38 and 39.  Only time will tell the outcome of your son's online relationship.  If God wills it to be, it will be.  If God wills that nothing will come from this online relationship, He will guide your son to meet and develop love for the woman that He has chosen.  So, I suggest that you do nothing and say nothing more about it.  Just sit back and wait for God to work it out.

God bless,
Aunt Dara

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