Get Your Teen Weekly Newsletter in your inbox! Sign Up
YourTeenMag Logo

My Son is Upset Because his Girlfriend is Grounded. I Don’t Know What to Say

Dear Your Teen,

My son is dating a girl who is struggling with some grades. Her parents have grounded her from socializing until her grades come up. My son wants to be patient and encouraging but is getting frustrated with the situation. It has been over 3 weeks since she has been grounded. I always tell him both parties in a relationship should be happy even when there is compromise. He is sharing that he is unhappy but with the situation not so much the girl. I am not sure what if any advice I can give in this situation.

Expert | Dr. Tori Cordiano

While you can’t change this situation for your son, you can use this as a salient illustration of something parents often tell their teens—every house, and every family, does things in their own way. This trusty explanation comes in handy when everyone else has a phone or everyone is allowed to go to that party. And here you’ve been given an opportunity to show that sometimes it’s other families who hold strict limits. While he’s experiencing the unpleasant effects of this particular limit, having a grounded girlfriend may be healthy for your son to see an example of how his peers experience consequences.

2 More Ways to Help Your Son Handle the Situation

Aside from this valuable teaching moment, your role here is two-fold.

1. Empathize

First, you can empathize with your son’s frustration. Call to mind how excited your teen self might have been at the prospect of a first romance and how wronged she might have felt when that romance was thwarted. Adolescents feel things in very big ways, and even if this grounding is short-lived, it can feel monumental to your son.

2. Help him brainstorm (if he’s willing)

If he’s open to it, you can brainstorm with your son about how he wants to handle this situation. Is it still enjoyable to spend time with this girl at school or has the relationship run its course? Is he more interested in being with his friends than dating? No teens should feel tied to romantic relationships longer than is comfortable for either party. If he is ready for this relationship to end, he can and should communicate that fairly and kindly.

Keep in mind that your son may not be interested in talking about this with you. But by letting him know you’re up for the conversation, you lay the groundwork for open communication between the two of you around whatever situations arise for him in the future.

Dr. Tori Cordiano is a clinical psychologist in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and Research Director of Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls.

Related Articles