No kid is good all the time, and daughters need to learn that their dads love them even when they mess up. You have a great teachable moment to demonstrate that crucial life lesson. Assuming her father has a legal right to have input in the life of his minor child, you are doing her a huge disservice — even potentially hurting her — by excluding her father from his role in this situation.
We sometimes must choose our battles. Usually, I admonish parents to choose more of them, lest they lose the war entirely. But in your case, I think you’re taking a stand on something (language) that is only clouding the bigger issue.
Rather than make a huge deal out of her cussing, a better tack would be to say, “I’m sure you know I don’t approve of your language, but more importantly, the fact that you’re behavior is out of character tells me there’s something else going on. Even if you think I’ll get upset, I need you to talk to me about it because I can’t help you if I don’t know what it is.”
Then prepare yourself for whatever she tells you and by all means, don’t freak out. Rather, be the force for calm. Be the one who shows her that she is loved no matter what, and that any mistakes she makes can be overcome.
Cussing is unpleasant, but shutting down the channels of communication can be tragic. Keep those communication lines open (or, as she might say, those effing communication lines), and connect her to the help she needs if it’s more than you can handle on your own.
And by all means, call her father. Your broken relationship is your own issue. You keeping him out of her problems is an issue for everyone.
• Have a question about parenting in today’s culture? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.