My problem is with my daughter’s boyfriend. The relationship started six years ago and stopped after five months, Yay! But it re-started after he was thrown out of his single mum’s house following a violent argument. He then came to live with us (much to my regret) for 12 months until I had enough and asked him to leave. He is very rude and impolite to me, never says thank you for anything and hardly ever acknowledges my existence. He often criticizes my daughter and demeans her in front of us. She seems oblivious to this, won’t hear any negative comments about him and becomes very defensive when we do say anything. He’s 23 hasn’t completed high school, is on disability benefits for depression and has never had a job. He spends his benefit money on his car, cigarettes and computers. My daughter is 23 and finishing her degree. How can I help her lose this loser!
At Wits’ End
You’re not going to like my answer I’m afraid. Yours is a familiar story and, as hard as this may be for you to hear, there’s not a whole lot you can do. Your daughter is not 12; she’s 23. That means she’s an adult, capable of making her own decisions. Having said that, I do think you hold a few cards. Here’s what I would do if I were you.
LAY DOWN HOUSE RULES: Though the ne’er-do-well is no longer living with you, it sounds like he spends some time there. You need to make sure the rules of YOUR house are clear to him and your daughter. The one I would start with is limiting the amount of time he spends lying on your sofa and treating you like crap. Once you figure out how much that is, tell your daughter. Personally, I’d limit it to the time it takes to lay out the plot of a sitcom. Whatever you decide, be firm and stand your ground with your daughter. This is YOUR house; you have a right to decide who does what inside.
TALK TO YOUR DAUGHTER: Maybe it’s time to chat with her about the kind of future she sees for herself. There’s no question in your mind that she can do better but it sounds like she might not be so sure. Life, with its twists and turns, peaks and valleys, is hard enough without having to carry the financial burden solo or deal with a boyfriend/husband with violent tendencies (this is a BIG red flag!). I know she doesn’t want to hear negative things about him but maybe if you approach if from a broader, life lessons perspective, she won’t get defensive and might listen.
BACK OFF! Your daughter sounds pretty smart given the level of schooling she’s got under her belt. But book smarts and life savvy are two different things and there are some lessons we simply have to learn for ourselves, like making sure the person we want to spend the rest of our life with shares our vision. So once you say your piece, you’ve got to back off. You are not the one pursuing the relationship with the boyfriend, she is. Maybe she sees something in him that eludes you, maybe he makes her feel like she hung the moon, maybe there’s a sweet vulnerability that he shows only her. Whatever it is, she likes it and will more than likely stay with this guy until she doesn’t like it anymore. The one caveat in this however, is if he becomes violent with her. Then all bets are off and you do what you have to do to save your child.
This is the tough for us as parents. We spend years making and modeling good decision-making skills for our kids and we pray it continues into adulthood. But this is HER life and you have to trust that you taught her well. And if this relationship ends in a fiery conflagration and she comes to you about it, resist the urge to say, “I told you so.”
Good luck mommy!
Do you have a question for Rene? She has an answer. Click here and fire away!