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My 19 year old daughter has been dating her boyfriend since 8th grade. We are sure that this boy is not the one for her. He has gotten in trouble with the law dealing drugs and spent some time in jail. He has trouble holding down jobs since high school grad. He has many many faults that we try to point out to my daughter but she just "doesn't want to hear it". We have been acting as his sponsor when he got out of jail to give him a second chance and get his life together. He is on an ISP program with strict guidelines. His mother has her own drug problems and the father has never been in the picture. He was raised by his aunt and uncle. How can I let my daughter know that she is making a big mistake staying with him. I think she feels sorry for him and acts more like his mother than girlfriend. We are very distraught over this and need to get through to my daughter.


Charlotte DeVries Replied: You are indeed between a rock and a hard place. You've tried the negative approach (pointing out this boy's negatives to her -- a sure way to drive her further into his arms) as well as the positive (acting as his sponsor). The love triangle here is a tough one -- parents, beloved daughter, loser boyfriend. This is a story that has been played out since time began and will be played out as long as there's a human race. I'm convinced that the negative approach is the weaker of the two. (Think back to your own youth. Our parents' criticism of someone made us want to defend the looser even more. "My folks don't know anything," kids think.) The harder, even riskier approach is the positive. Show this kid lots of love, even when you don't feel like it. Your daughter will admire you for it, she may get a clearer look at what's wrong with this guy who everyone keeps giving an extra chance, or (imagine this) this guy grows up and gets it together because someone showed him consistent support even when he didn't deserve it. Apart from sending your girl to the moon, you won't keep them apart and nagging will only serve as a magnetic force. I hope with patience and time (and your difficult job of continuing to offer this guy your love and support) will work things out for the best. You love your daughter, and in the act of extending love to him, you may actually come to a place where you love him as well. Good luck.
Posted On 2007-05-02 16:33:54
Brenda Bercun Replied: It's obvious that you have done more than you needed to support this young man. There is no doubt that his recovery from drugs and his other issues will be a challenging and rocky one. His future is questionable but with his own strong determination and self motivation he may be able to be successful. If he does not demonstrate this then he will cycle again and again. No matter how much your daughter feels she can help him, he has to be doing most of the work. Since your daughter is an adult this is her decision to make. Is she in school? What are her aspirations for her own life? Are you financially supporting her? Are you financially supporting him? Is he following the program? If he is not and you are still acting as his sponsor, stop. Cut the ties to show your daughter that you see he is not doing his part. Your daughter has been with him for a very long time and it may be difficult for her to move on without feeling disloyal and hopeless. Help her to see the value of her own future and support her in her feelings that she has for him. As difficult as it is for you, the decision has to be hers. I suggest that the family attend Alinon meetings to understand the role of enablers. I wish you the best.
Posted On 2007-04-24 22:55:35
Lou Longo Replied: This is indeed a very frustrating situation especially considering your child is now an adult. Many experts have written about it and I can attest first hand that the more we try to convince a child to do something the more it seems they are driven the opposite way. I know I was a 19-year old "know it all" (I am now 39) and there was no way I was going to let my parents tell me who I could or could not date and I expect my kids to be similar. Your daughter is well aware of how you all feel about this situation. My recommendation (and I know it is 100 times easier said than done) is that you let time take its course on this. Have one final talk with your daugther alone and let her know that she knows how you feel and as hard as it will be for those that love her, you will be backing off and letting her make her own choices and accept the results of those choices.
Posted On 2007-04-24 21:12:57
Annie Fox, M. Ed. Replied: From you description of the young man and his history and genetics I can certainly understand and appreciate your concern. This guy doesn't sound like any mother's dream of a boyfriend for her daughter. You ask "How can I let my daugher know that she is making a big mistake staying with him"? Judging from the length of this relationship and the strength of your feelings, it's hard to imagine that you haven't already "let your daughter know" how you feel about this guy. Am I right? What you're really wanting to know is "How can I get my daughter to agree with me and end this relationship?" I don't have an answer to that one. If your daughter is 18 or older and not mentally incapacitated then she has the right to make her own decisions... and (unfortunatelly) her own "mistakes". You can't protect her from herself at this point in her life. All you can do is keep the lines of communication open. Depending on how much she values your approval, she might be open to going with you and your husband to talk with a third party, ie., a counselor. I'd suggest that you put that to her. Surely she's not happy with the strife in the family... so how about suggesting that as a family, you and your husband and your daughter get some outside help to figure out some new ways to respect each other's boundaries and to safely communicate your love and concern for each other? I hope this helps. In friendship, Annie
Posted On 2007-04-24 19:01:24
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