Pat Brown knows every grisly crime imaginable. She’s television’s go-to criminal profiler and the CEO of the Sexual Homicide Exchange, a group that helps police zero in on suspects in unsolved sex crimes. Talk to her on the phone for 10 minutes and she’s referencing the Florida man, shot dead by police, who chewed the face off a homeless man.
Raising her daughter, Brown did everything in her power to keep the girl safe from the perverts and psychopaths, and the drugs and depression that can ruin a girl’s life. She home-schooled all three of her kids and didn’t let her daughter date unchaperoned until she was 18.
As she proudly points out in her new book, How To Save Your Daughter’s Life: Straight Talk for Parents from America’s Top Criminal Profiler, her children turned out fine—her daughter is now a child-abuse detective—and “none of them ever cursed at me or told me they hated me.”
“Better to be tough when they’re little and then slowly let out the reins than be too easy when they’re small and create a monster for a teen,” she writes. Be strict and use discipline. If your daughter throws a tantrum or uses spiteful words, remove her from the environment, sternly reprimand her and implement a punishment. “It may be really hard work, but believe me, you will have so much less work when she is older: you won’t be babysitting your grandchild while your daughter goes to high school, or hiding your jewellery from your crack-addicted young adult child.”
Brown encourages parents to involve young girls in after-school hobbies like knitting and stamp collecting. But if that’s too tame for a teen girl who easily bores, get her involved in an adventurous sport. “If I had a daughter who was getting crazy on me and sneaking out and doing all kinds of garbage, I’d see if I could find her an activity that she could really get into that has some rules and regulations, even if it’s driving race cars.” Like boxing to vent anger, “there are ways to channel your daughter in an environment that’s handled by an adult. She gets her adrenalin rush but she’s controlled by the rules of the game,” Brown said in a telephone interview from her home in Washington.
Another way to keep a girl safe is to delay the milestones. “The younger one starts messing with anything the sooner one goes to the next level,” says Brown. If your girl starts dating at age 12, she’ll probably have sex sooner. If she drives at 16, she’s more likely to crash into a tree while texting at the wheel. Make her wait to get her driver’s licence and then drive shotgun with her everywhere she goes for the next year, advises Brown. “Every year and month you can delay improves your chances of having her maturity increase. Also, the slower she gains these opportunities, the less she expects to be given free rein and the more she accepts her parents having a say over her activities.”
If you don’t want her to do something, use logic to explain it. If she says, “Why can’t I go to Meghan’s house?” don’t say, “Because I said so!” That tells her nothing and makes her think you’re being stupid, mean and selfish. “Because Meghan’s mom has a drinking problem and she has a creepy boyfriend hanging around,” is better, Brown says. “You can further explain why these things are concerning to you. This helps her to respect you as a parent and also teaches her something about why good behaviour or certain choices are better.”
If your teen gets trapped in a relationship with a boy who is too domineering, she may be able to get rid of him by talking about herself—her hair, her nails, her shoes—non-stop. “A psychopath is only interested in himself so the last thing he wants is to have a girl yakking about herself,” she says. “Suddenly laughing non-stop for no good reason in the middle of lunch at McDonald’s is going to make him squirm,” because it’s all about his ego. “If his trophy stops shining, if people are like, ‘What are you doing with that girl?’— he’s not gonna like that.”
Whatever happens, never allow your daughter to be alone with a controlling boy she’s broken up with. “That’s when we find girls not getting home,” says Brown.