Hi Rene:

My daughter will be 20 in a month. Her dad and I divorced about a year and half ago, my decision. I am currently remarried to a wonderful man and moved 1000 miles away from my ex. At the time, my daughter had an apartment, a job and was engaged. Well, that relationship ended after he hit her and, because they worked in the same town, she quit her job without having another one lined up. She never looked for another one and her current boyfriend moved in. Needless to say, they quickly ran out of money.

Long story short here, her dad, my ex is diagnosed as a somatic narcissist. Six days before the lease ended, her apartment building caught fire and burned down to the ground. Dad would NOT help her at all; he is too busy with girlfriend so me, the loving mom opened up my home to my daughter. 

Well, the boyfriend was part of the package deal. I told them both they would have to get jobs, ASAP. It’s been a month and a half and no jobs. The boyfriend is a total loser, no driver’s license, as he owes over five thousand dollars in fines. 

But beyond this how do I get her to see she is becoming a loser like him? I have had talks with her but am getting nowhere. I am also taking care of her two cats; last night I was informed by the boyfriend that the one cat is his and he demanded I stop calling the cats by their nicknames (terms of endearment) and demanded I call the cat by his real name all while he is sitting there stuffing his face with my food. 

I love my daughter and she was not prepared for life when she moved out and got her first apartment as she has no driver’s license. I am afraid this creep will convince her to leave and yes, he drives without a license, no insurance, etc.

Help Rene, what do I do? I want so bad to tell him you either get a job by Friday or else you are out.

Sign me,

Tying a knot and hanging on


Hi mom:

Okay let’s look at the facts:

  • Your daughter is an adult
  • She has chosen to share her life with an irresponsible creep
  • They are living off you and not contributing
  • They show no signs of changing
  • The boyfriend is disrespectful to you

The cons of this situation are:

  • She has chosen to share her life with an irresponsible creep
  • They are living off you and not contributing
  • They show no signs of changing
  • The boyfriend is disrespectful to you

The pros of this situation are:

  • ….. Still thinking…

Now when you look at it like this, it’s pretty clear isn’t it?  You’ve come to Good Enough Mother for some tough love and I think you’re expecting it will be aimed at your daughter. Nope. That’s your job; my tough love is headed straight for you. So here’s what I would do if I were you. No, scratch that; here’s what you HAVE to do if you want this situation to change

*DEAL WITH YOUR GUILT: I’m not a psychologist, just a mom who traffics in common sense. But one of the things I think you have to tackle is the big, fat, heaping pile of guilt on your plate. You said you divorced your ex-husband, your choice, per your letter. Then you moved 1,000 miles away from him and your daughter. I suspect you are trying to make up for some of the guilt you feel for leaving her, no matter how justified it was. You gotta get a handle on that and fast!

*BE FIRM: This is the part where I grab you (figuratively) by the shoulders and say, “Stop making excuses for your daughter!” She has lived on her own before. She knows what it’s like to pay the bills. I suspect she knows what it’s like when money’s tight and has figured out a way to make ends meet in situations like that. If she has not, she’d better learn QUICK! She is not going to learn if you don’t let her experience a bit of discomfort. Imagine how this would go down if she were in an apartment on her own, not paying the rent and sitting around all day freeloading. How long do you think the landlord would put up with that? Not very long, right? Your daughter is an adult and you need to let her live her life. It might not be the one you would live or the one you want her to live but that’s not really your choice. I do think what will eventually happen is your daughter is going to wake up some day and have an epiphany and wonder why the hell she’s been with this loser for as long as she has. Then and only then will she make the decision to leave.

*GIVE THEM A DEADLINE: While you can’t control how your daughter feels about her boyfriend or how he feels about you, you do have some say in how they interact with you based on what you are willing to put up with. You need to give these two a deadline and stick to it. Draw up a contract and make them sign it, if you have to. If they have to have jobs by the end of the month, remind them everyday of the contract. Then, as you get closer to that time, start packing their stuff up. When they ask what you’re doing, tell them you are preparing for them to be in breach of the agreement and you don’t want to wait until the last minute to put their stuff on the street. I think when they see you’re serious they’ll get serious too. Don’t worry about getting push back from them, that’s a given so be prepared for it. But this is your house; they (yes, even your daughter) are guests and should treat you and it as such. You are also going to have to make a decision as to how long you are going to allow them to stay, even if they do have jobs.

Oh and right now, stop pampering them! Would a landlord buy them smokes? Then why are you? No wonder they’re not leaving; hell I wouldn’t either if I had a deal that sweet.

Look, you can choose to take this advice or leave it but I’m telling you now, if you don’t put your foot down, you might want to go ahead and get comfortable in your current role, because that will be the one you’re in for a long, LONG time.

Good luck!

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