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Ask Rene: My Daughter’s Throwing Her Life Away With This LOSER!


Hi Rene:

 HELP! My daughter started seeing a guy (her first boyfriend) when she was 17 against our wishes. We tried to make them break up but she said she’d kill herself or runaway if we called the law on him. So we just hoped it would play out.

I felt like something was wrong with him so ran background check, found out he is 28, has no job, no phone, no car, no money and lives with grandmother. His background check says he’s been in prison two times for drugs and bad checks. The day our daughter turned 18, she got mouthy and hateful, packed her bags and moved in with my parents, against our wishes.

Now, my parents talk down about her dad and me and tell her she doesn’t have to even listen to us because she is grown.  We took away her car because he was driving it on our insurance and our dime but ended up giving it back for her safety; she’s in college and was walking at night. When we took her car, her boyfriend got mad and tried to press charges on me for “harassing” my daughter when I was only calling her on the phone to make sure she was okay. I’ve already canceled her insurance but my parents added her on their policy. I am not going to give her any more money ever. I will only pay for her orthodontist and that’s it.

She is planning on marrying and supporting him. He is a lazy, no good bum and I think he is on drugs. My daughter is a good girl; she works and goes to college but lets him brainwash her into hating her dad and me. She has changed her cell number and refuses to talk to or even look at us. I want her to come home but if she won’t, then I at least want a relationship with her.

I am just about crazy. What do we do? Let her marry him and say nothing? I think me always telling her how it is as I see it is what ran her off to begin with. I am scared for her safety.

Panicked in Pittsburgh


Dear PiP:

I wish I had a dollar for every letter I got from a mother, worried that her daughter was getting involved with a bad seed. If I did, I’d be able to put my kids through college and then some, I kid you not. But all the stories are a little bit different and each one involves someone’s kid. I know you are losing sleep over this, I know you are anguished and I know you’ve come to me for some straight talk;  I hope you’re ready because the gloves are coming off.  The way I see it, you’ve got to deal with this issue on a number of fronts.

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I’m not really sure what to say here. Not only are your parents not on your side, they are  actively undermining your authority. But since your daughter is 18 and not living under your roof, your authority is not what it once was. However, I  would think they would side with you, given that they know first hand, the difficulties of parenting. For whatever reason they choose not to do that. You can ask them why but their actions seem to indicate that the relationship between you and them is more convoluted than can be addressed in this space. So your other option (and the one I would go with) is to ignore their behavior. If they want to take on your mercurial daughter and the no-good boyfriend, let them. I predict that act will wear thin really, REALLY fast.


 Clearly there’s no love lost between  you and this guy and I can’t say that I blame you. Nearly twice her age, a couple of prison stints, I can see where he’s not top of mind when you think of someone who will love and cherish your little girl. But she’s an adult now and this is her decision, even if it’s not the one you would choose for her or yourself. So how do you deal with him? In very small doses.  Even though you don’t like him, I would back off. The more you antagonize him, the more he’s going to bend her ear, which will feed their collective paranoia.

EXCEPTION! All bets are off  in the case of physical violence. If you suspect or have proof of that, then you have to do what you can to get her out of there.


Forgive me for being so blunt but lady, your daughter is a spoiled BRAT! You did not “run off” this emotional extortionist by telling her the truth about her deadbeat boyfriend. She left of her own accord because she didn’t want to obey the rules that you, the homeowner (who happens to be her mother), put in place. And in what alternate universe is it okay for a teenager to date someone nearly twice her age?  Sorry but that is the definition of creepy in my book.

What could you have done? Well, it’s too late now in this case,  but parents need to understand the power they have. I’m sure you had things she wanted/needed (cell phone and freedom immediately come to mind). Crack down on those things. You could have devised a plan if she in fact did  run away and if she continued to threaten suicide, have taken her to a doctor.


 Now, this is where the rubber meets the road. People are going to do what they have always done until they are motivated to change. That means your daughter is going to stay with this loser until she looks up one day, maybe after a couple of convictions and kids with this guy, and realizes that this SUCKS! Then and only then, will she decide to do something about it. I know it will  be painful to stand by and watch but you really have no other choice. Let her know that while you disapprove of the guy, you are her mother and will always be there for her.

Now, this is where it gets confusing. What does “be there for her” really mean? It means you will provide moral support but that’s it. No giving her a car (there are a lot of people who get to and from college without them), no paying the insurance (you won’t need to since you’ll have the vehicle), no giving her money when she’s short on rent, no paying the cell phone bill and so on.  It’s time for you to lay down some ground rules that include how you will be treated because the current conditions are unacceptable. And they will not get better if you are nicer to her or give her more stuff, in fact, just the opposite. If your daughter wants to act like an adult, then she does it 24 and 7, not just when it’s convenient.

I’m a big believer in learning from all of our experiences. You telling your daughter this is a bad guy is not going to be nearly as eye-opening as when she comes to that conclusion herself.

Good luck mom.

Do you have a question for Rene? She has an answer. Click here and fire away. And don’t forget to follow the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

More from GEM:

Ask Rene: My Friend Double-Crossed Me; What Should I Do?

Ask Rene: How Do We Help Our Screw-Off Friend?

Ask Rene: What Do I Do About My Daughter And Her Deadbeat Boyfriend?




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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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