Q. Bad neighbors: Our teen daughter has gotten close to our lesbian neighbors, and it’s impacting her attitude and behavior in a big way.
My daughter met these neighbors during lockdown last summer, when she would ride her bike to get out of the house. Being outgoing and polite, she commented on the garden one of the women was working in, and they started talking daily. At the time we didn’t think much of it—everyone was lonely, and it was especially hard on our daughter to not see her school friends—but she started spending more and more time out of the house, and then her attitude and style changed overnight. She’s always worn dresses and makeup, and suddenly she’d bought an entire wardrobe of jeans, flannel, and loose clothes, and has long and angry rants about the beauty industry whenever we bring up makeup. She also said she was going to cut her hair short, which we obviously forbade since her hair has always been long and it was too drastic a change. She became surly and stopped talking to us, and she keeps her hair tied up in a bun instead of styling it like she always has.
The first thing she shared with us in quite some time was that one of the lesbians had a woodworking shop and she now wanted to try woodworking class at school. We forbid her from going to the neighbors’ house, and she threw a fit, which is completely unlike her. We’ve tried to set up activities with friends from school, but she was so rude and stubborn that we had to ground her instead. The night we grounded her, the doorbell rang, and our daughter was standing there with one of the neighbors—our daughter had snuck out to see the couple! And the neighbor had the same rude and defensive attitude our daughter’s been showing when we laid into her about her and her wife’s damaging influence.
The more my husband and I (also a man) try to help our daughter stay true to herself and set boundaries, the more we’re the “bad guys,” which I guess is part of parenting, but it’s concerning to have to change the way we parent because of this influence. We just don’t recognize our daughter anymore. How do we deal with her, and what the hell do we do about the neighbors?