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How can I stop my 18-year-old daughter from dating a jerk? For the past few months she has been seeing a 25-year-old loser. Since then, her grades have dropped, she’s not hanging out with her old friends, and she’s started smoking and drinking. She skips school and rarely spends the night here anymore. I confronted her, and she said she was 18 and could do whatever she wanted. I went to the guy’s apartment to tell him to stop seeing my daughter, and he laughed in my face and said, “I love it when you fight with your daughter because she just comes running back to this mattress right here.” How can I make my daughter see what a loser and bad influence this guy is? I’m afraid a confrontation will cause her quit school and move in with him.
The short answer is that you really can’t stop her. You can bar the man from your home, and from family gatherings, and I suggest you do both of those things. You can give also give your daughter an ultimatum about dating this man, but I advise against it. As long as she lives in your house, you maintain at least some authority. But if you truly fear that she will drop out of school and move in with this guy, then you have little to gain by pushing the issue.
When it comes to children over 18, the most powerful weapon in the disciplinary arsenal is threatening to kick them out or cut them off financially. In this case, you can’t use that weapon, and both your daughter and her boyfriend know it.
Going to the man’s house was a mistake. You have no authority over him whatsoever, and your visit showed both him and your daughter your level of desperation. But you can’t take it back, and I advise you not to lie to your daughter about the trip. He has almost certainly told her about it.
Apparently your daughter revels in disagreeing with you. She knows you don’t like her boyfriend, and arguments simply push her further from you and closer to him. Arguing hasn’t helped, so don’t argue with her. When she talks about this man, don’t involve yourself in the conversation. Instead, try to recruit some help.
Does your daughter have an older sister, a younger aunt, or some other friend or relative closer to her age? Someone young enough to relate to her in a way you can’t, but old enough to have some experience with losers? Your daughter won’t listen to you, so find someone who gets along with this woman (she’s not a girl anymore) well enough to engage her in a frank discussion about the man.
Unfortunately, you have no leverage here. If you’re providing her perks besides room and board, feel free to rescind them. But barring intervention from a third party, your daughter will probably have to learn her own lesson. When she does, resist the temptation to say “I told you so.”
How do I tell my daughter her mother is a waste of skin? I am sick of her getting my daughter’s hopes up, then not showing up.
I know it’s tempting. But don’t badmouth your ex. That may make you feel better, but it will not benefit anyone. Your daughter loves her mother, and your criticism – even if true – may cause the girl undue stress. In addition, family court judges generally frown on parents who speak harshly to their children about the other parent. You have absolutely nothing to gain by speaking out.
And while it may be painful to watch, your daughter will discover her mother’s character on her own. It may take time, but such lessons must be learned, not taught. She’ll figure it out. Just be there to comfort the girl when her mother fails to make good on her promises.
Often, when parents fail to visit, the child sees herself as the problem. Let your daughter know that she did nothing to warrant the lack of visitation, then give her the extra love and attention she needs. Given time, she’ll realize what’s going on without you having to verbally trash someone she loves.
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