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Mother of teenaged daughter penned a girlsguide to boyfriends

Kaycee Jane thought she’d nipped any dating problems in the bud when she told her teenaged daughter that she wasn’t allowed to have a boyfriend. Instead, her daughter hooked up with a guy Jane said didn’t respect her child.

Jane, a single Kerrisdale parent and telecommunications executive who’d been busy flying to Toronto for work, realized she needed to focus on preparing her daughter for healthy dating relationships. “I was aware of the research that existed then that unhealthy relationship today [lead to] unhealthy relationship in the future,” she said.

Jane quit her job and returned to university to complete her executive master’s in business administration. She started sliding “love letters” under her daughter’s bedroom door. She wrote about paying attention to whether her boyfriend asked her to do things that would meet his needs, or pressured her or demanded that she did them.

Jane wrote letters for two years to her daughter, who she didn’t want to name, while consulting high school counsellors and parents about teen relationships. She rolled those letters into a book Frog or Prince? A Smart Girls Guide to Boyfriends that took her five years to write and that she self-published in 2008.

The 49-year-old mother also teamed up with Dr. Julius Licata, a psychologist and director of the Pennsylvania-based website TeenCentral.net. It allows teens to anonymously submit questions that are answered by trained counsellors and then checked by master’s-level clinicians or psychologists within 24 hours.

ParentCentral.net, which will launch in the third week of January, will offer the same service to parents. Jane helped create podcasts on topics including talking about sex and dating violence for both sites. She says Licata claims TeenCentral gets two million hits a month.

A young women’s group at the University of Idaho has started an organization on healthy relationships and used Frog or Prince? as source material, Jane says. A young woman in Toronto has started writing about her search for a healthy relationship on a blog inspired by Frog or Prince?

Jane says parents should recognize dictatorial parenting alienates teens. She promotes open conversations between teens and parents where each takes turns talking and listening without judgment. “If we hear someone bring up a really good point, we adjust our perspective when somebody raises it,” Jane said. “Can you do that with your daughter? This is critical because if we can do that with our daughter, then our daughter can do that with her boyfriend. What’s really important is we can develop healthier relationships with our daughters by developing and practicing these skills that our daughters need to build healthy relationships.”

Jane tells teen girls they need to work to understand what’s important to them, what they like and dislike. “To respect ourselves, we have to meet our needs,” she said. “…Of course that’s going to change as we learn and grow, but we have to all start somewhere… We have to be able to stand up [for ourselves] and that’s tough, but to respect ourselves, we will.”

crossi@vancourier.com

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