There was a letter to my daughter from a 17-year-old boy. When she got home we asked her if she had given out our home address and phone number to any boys and she said yes. She said she has called him four times.
We are shocked. We don't know if we trust her now, and we wonder what's wrong with a 17-year-old who would be interested in someone so much younger. We scolded her, but did not yell or become upset. When she came home today, she went straight to her room and won't talk to us.
My husband and I got married when we were 18 and had our daughter when we were 17. I know the things that can happen. Life was very hard for us. I don't want this for my daughter. Until yesterday I believed that we set a good example for our children. Now I feel as though we haven't done enough!
You do have reason to be concerned about a relationship between a 17-year-old boy and your 14-year-old, eighth-grade daughter. Seventeen-year-old boys are indeed at very different developmental stages -- intellectually, socially, emotionally, and sexually -- than 14-year-old girls. I have seen very few healthy relationships of this nature. If your daughter has had no prior boyfriends or flattering attention from boys, she may be very reluctant to give up this relationship, despite the age difference and logical explanations why it's not a great idea.
I would also guess she is aware of your fear that she'll repeat the mistakes of your youth. As of now, you really don't know the nature of this relationship. It is within your rights as conscientious parents to know this boy's identity and the status of this relationship. Your daughter probably will insist that it's none of your business...but it is.
This is not a time for anger, blame, shame or punishment. It's a time for empathy, understanding, and reaching out to your daughter. Give her the opportunity to talk with you about this without interrupting her or judging her. Much more listening than lecturing is in order now. She doesn't need to hear things like, "You know the only thing a 17-year-old boy wants with a 14-year-old girl, don't you?" Knowing why she feels a need to keep this or perhaps any involvement with boys a secret from you will be helpful in talking this over with her. You may agree to disagree during these discussions but you must respect her opinions, even if they are different from yours.
Use this occasion to connect with your daughter in an even more meaningful manner. Try to remember what it was like to be her age before you begin these talks. If she experiences your openness and empathy, she will be more likely to come to you for support and understanding as she navigates the confusing, often overwhelming, waters of adolescence.