Our expert says:
All kids need discipline and structure, but that does NOT mean punishment. And especiall punishment that is excessive, mean, undeserved or unpreductable, which simply scrambles their sense of values and justice.
And parents too easily ignore the fact that rewarding good behaviour is even better at shaping good conduct than punishing bad behaviour. And of course, increasing the currency of rewards provides more fruitful opportunities to punish by removing rewards rather than by being more mean.
The parents you describe might have good motives, and may even be deluded that they are benefiting their child, while actually making her much more vulnerable.
Forbidding a girl of 15 to even talk to boys does NOT protect her, and preents her, with useful guidance from understanding parents, from learning how to do so and how to protect herself from exploitation or worse.
Excessive punishment, too, means that by applying maximum punishment for elatively minor offenses, you have nothing much left for other wrong-doing. It's like arming traffic cops with nuclear weapons. Their only way of responding, then, would be much worse than the offense.
That said, you are in an awkward situation, with no easy and effective way to respond. Much depends on your relationship with her parents ( and maybe on whether you have children of your own which might help the parents seeing you as having valid experience ). One can at least mildly mention that while you are so pleased to see how much they care about the safety of their child, you are worried that the manner and degree of their punishing her could have negative effects, and wonder whether they'd agree to discuss this undoubtedly difficult problem of discipline with teens, and see if a more effective way could be worked out between you.
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