Question: Dear Luise: I love my daughter very much, but I have a bit of a problem. My oldest daughter is 19 years old, and we have had problems in our relationship in the past year, as she has had a son and lives in my home. I adore my grandson, and have bonded with him, just as she has. She and I have had disagreements about her care for him, cleaning up after herself and the baby, etc. Only after I was doing the clean up and baby maintenance myself for a couple of months. My children have always been my world, and my grandson just multiplied this by two fold. I have gone as far as to tell her that if she did not get her act together she’d have to move out. Well she did just that. She disappeared for two days and I had no contact with her. I then found out where she went. She was with her absent father who has broken her heart time and time again from the time she was a little girl. He has 8 children to 5 different mothers. My two daughters were the first two. (No. I wasn’t foolish enough to stay around). He was very physically abusive to me, and he also has a long history of drug use. I have learned that he has a felony child abuse conviction for abuse committed against one of his newest children. I knew that he was bad news, and this was my reasoning for “escaping” nearly 17 years ago. My daughter knows the history, and has chosen to let him into her life and that of my grandson. I’m afraid for my daughter, but more for my grandson. She has since returned home to “get her life together”. Meaning that my husband, (who has been there since she was four, and she calls him dad) and I are to buy her furniture and help her get an apartment closer to us, but she continues to communicate with the ex and his family. He bought her a cell phone to stay in touch. I have asked her not to ever leave my grandson with him or anyone in the family there, as I fear for his safety. I have stories that could make your skin crawl. As an example, Her bio father smoked his first marijuana cigarette with his own mother when he was 10 years old. He told me this after I was pregnant with my second child. She is of age, and I can no longer tell her what to do, and when she talks about her biological father and his family she does it with a smile on her face and joy in her heart. Any advice, please? A.
Answer: Dear A. What a tough situation. Many times the more we say against something or someone, the more our kids (whether adults or not) seem to be attracted to the forbidden. Yet we worry for good reason and can’t just stand back. You can warn her but you have little to say about what she does. She may tell you what you want to hear and continue to see her bio father and his clan as amusing and maybe even lovable. You know better but she is too young to be wise.
It doesn’t look to me like you are treating your daughter as a person who is “of age.” She has stayed with you, stayed with her bio dad and now you are going to set her up in an apartment. She seems to have the rank of a dependent child who has the privileges of an adult. That may not be supportive of her growing up and taking responsibility for her actions and environment.
She’s a teen mother. Deciding to follow through with that implies growing up…fast. Do you see that happening? My guess is that it’s time for tough love. I don’t know how that might look, but it could be her getting a job…paying rent and paying childcare. That is what she would have to do if you weren’t around or even still alive. What would she be up against if that were true? What’s realistic? Blessings, Luise