Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Daughter’s Controlling Boyfriend is Hurting Our Family”

Mother and daughter

My 20-year-old daughter has been dating her boyfriend for three and a half years. He comes from an extremely religious and controlling family whose children were home-schooled, and now his two oldest sisters are married and live in homes on the family property. The boyfriend is always making my daughter feel guilty about hanging out with anyone other than him. When they first started dating, my daughter had friends and liked going to parties, etc. Now she is very religious, doesn’t have any friends, and is close to his family. The boyfriend has made little to no effort to be close to our family. He has managed to isolate her from friends and anything social. Now I believe he is trying to isolate her from her own family.

Most of my extended family lives in New York, and we live three hours away. My husband, two daughters, and I have always celebrated holidays with my extended family members who are very close. Because of distance, holidays are among the few times that we see my family, which includes my now 80-year-old parents. Yesterday, my daughter sent me a text stating that she and her boyfriend want to spend Thanksgiving with his family! His family lives fifteen minutes away from our house and all of his relatives live locally as well. My daughter and boyfriend go to the same college and see each other all of the time. I am very upset that my daughter is willing to hurt my family just to please him. I know in the past he has tried to guilt her into this. Can I just tell her flat out no and that she has to come with us? (If it matters, we pay for her car insurance, health insurance, and phone. Last year we paid her tuition, but I have been out of work for six months so this year my daughter had to take out additional loans for which my sister co-signed. I supply my daughter with toiletries and homemade treats, and she lives with us on school breaks and in the summer). — Worried Mom

What you have here are two problems — one short-term problem (you and your extended family being hurt by your daughter’s absence at Thanksgiving), and one longer-term problem (your daughter dating a religious control freak from a cult-like family). Obviously, addressing the short-term problem is much easier than tackling the longer-term problem — you can tell your daughter that she has to come with you on Thanksgiving and that it’s not up for debate; if she refuses, you can threaten to cut her off financially and even physically put her in the car and drive her to New York. But doing all of this only solves the short-term problem of getting her to your extended family’s home for Thanksgiving. It certainly doesn’t ensure that she will be pleasant company, and, more than likely, it will have a detrimental effect on your tackling the larger problem — the grip her control-freak boyfriend has on her.

I would sacrifice the short-term problem for having better leverage and luck addressing the long-term problem. Tell your daughter how disappointed you and your family will be to miss her on Thanksgiving. Express to her your hurt feelings, but don’t tell her she can’t spend Thanksgiving with her boyfriend. Consider even extending an invitation to him to join all of you in New York (which he will decline, of course), if only to show that YOU have made an effort and that this isn’t about your keeping her from her boyfriend as much as it is about making it easier for her to be with him AND you on Thanksgiving.

Of course, you DO want to keep her away from her boyfriend. I totally understand why you would. Unfortunately, short of keeping your daughter locked in a room in your house, there’s not much you can do to keep her from seeing him. There’s not much you can do to lessen the grip he seems to have on her. What you can do is make sure your relationship with your daughter remains positive, open, and loving. Being anything else risks your being alienated from her at a time when she seems especially malleable.

The good news here is that your daughter is only 20 years old — an age when people make a lot of stupid mistakes they learn from. She still has plenty of time to explore this relationship and come to her senses before being brainwashed by her boyfriend and his religion. You have to trust that the foundation you’ve provided her, along with your love and comfort and acceptance of her, will be an ultimate guiding light, guiding her off a path of religious isolation and back into the world in which she was raised.
***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

50 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Sunshine Brite October 6, 2015, 11:03 am

    WWS. Fight the urge to push him away which will serve best to drive the two of them together.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph October 6, 2015, 11:24 am

    Definitely WWS!
    Honestly, the “short term problem” as Wendy calls it really gets my blood pressure up. Leaving out for a second the religious nutbag part of the equation, your daughter is an adult. One of the things about children growing up that it seems hard for some parents (this LW included) to swallow is that their kids won’t come home for all holidays forever. Maybe you would feel differently if you liked the boyfriend, but I think either way your daughter deciding to spend a holiday with an SO’s family instead of her own would bother you. And that’s just part of her growing up– this is just the first holiday of many that she will miss due to spending it with an SO’s family or spending it working or spending it home because she can’t afford to travel or even (brace yourself, this may come as a shock) simply because she doesn’t WANT to travel. It would be hard even in the best of circumstances that your little girl isn’t coming home, but you need to accept it.

    As for the rest of it, the only thing you can do to combat a controlling boyfriend who is trying to distance your daughter from you is to refuse to be distanced. By that I mean you must make sure she knows you love her, support her (emotionally, as well as not pulling out financial support* out of spite or using it as a bargaining chip), and will always have a place for her at home if she decides to come. But don’t force her or think you can forbid her to see him in order to save her– this will only push her further in. She will need to find her way out of this hole on her own, but it will be easier if she knows she has your unconditional love and support. Otherwise, she may resist even after she realizes its a shitty situation, because she doesn’t want to hear “I told you so” from smug old mom.

    *Note on financial support- you are of course not required to support your daughter financially through college. And if you need to pull back financial support (as you recently did) due to hardships of your own, that is totally ok. BUT what you shouldn’t do is make your financial support conditional on her breaking up with this guy or coming home for thanksgiving– that just sets up a bad situation where she will be pushed further away from you and into his grip. You need to do your best to remain a supportive party who is neutral regarding the boyfriend except to remind her that you are always on HER side, you love her, you want the best for her.

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    • avatar

      Vathena October 6, 2015, 12:01 pm

      I agree completely. No, it doesn’t seem “fair” when you factor in the distance of the respective families, and throw in a pinch of religious nuttery, but the daughter is an adult. My mom had sobbing fits every year for several years when my brother and I met our respective spouses and stopped traveling cross-country for every Thanksgiving and Christmas. The memory of that still makes it stressful to plan holiday gatherings. I would also caution the LW not to blame every decision that her daughter makes on the boyfriend. There is plenty of cause for concern here, but it is worth considering that the daughter has some measure of free will and independence, and is actively choosing these things with her eyes open. Nothing will push her away faster than comments implying that she is brainwashed and controlled by her boyfriend and not thinking for herself (even if he does have that sort of influence over her). Be supportive and loving, and don’t give him ANY ammunition to use in driving a wedge between you.

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      • othy

        othy October 6, 2015, 1:46 pm

        This makes me glad my parents were totally understanding that one of the consequences of them moving away from their kids was that we wouldn’t come home for holidays. Because it’s just too damn expensive. Instead, I try to come out sometime late January or February. It’s cheaper, less crowded, less stressful, and I get the bonus of spending the awful part of the winter months in sunny Florida.

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      • avatar

        Vathena October 6, 2015, 2:02 pm

        Seriously. It’s much better for us now (partly because there are grandchildren and we get cut more slack on air travel, plus my mom is much more willing to travel to us to see the grands!)

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph October 6, 2015, 2:26 pm

        My parents were very understanding, but my in-laws…not so much. I’m Jewish, and as early as my sophomore year of college I was not driving the 4 hours home for all the holidays because they fell in the middle of the week and I just couldn’t take the extra time off class to travel. So when I moved 1000 miles away, my parents were already pretty used to me not coming home, a trend which continued.
        On the other hand, the first time my husband didn’t travel home for Christmas was the Christmas before our wedding (5.5 years after he moved 1000 miles away)– wedding was 5 weeks later and we needed that time to accomplish stuff, plus needed to save $ and vacation days for honeymoon. They pitched such a fit that he suggested going just to shut them up. Hell no, we don’t let the terrorists win.
        So yeah. I’m grumpy.

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      • avatar

        Kaluu October 6, 2015, 11:31 pm

        The little problem is tiny. LW should arrange another thing to invite daughter to do with her parents, possibly including the other ny relatives. Doesn’t matter that it’s not thanksgiving. At least she is celebrating thanksgiving somewhere.

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones October 6, 2015, 11:25 am

    This is a VERY serious situation. Not only is her boyfriend exhibiting abuser red flags, but his family is complicit in this. This is sadly a common strategy called “undue influence” to exert control and alienate family members and recruit them into a cult. I am in touch with this woman who wrote the blog below who has a VERY eerily similar story. While she hasn’t been successful yet at reuniting her daughter with her family (which includes grandparents and triplet siblings) she may be able to share resources. Sadly last summer her daughter married her abuser and didn’t invite most of her family to the wedding. http://www.sampateam.wordpress.com

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    • avatar

      Sue Jones October 6, 2015, 11:39 am

      I just wanted to add that what you are most likely dealing with is a predatory family. #predatoryalienation

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    • TaraMonster

      TaraMonster October 6, 2015, 3:30 pm

      I read about this family somewhere a while back. It was the first thing that popped into my head as I was reading this letter and I was planing on linking to it down here. It’s just so heartbreaking and scary.

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh October 6, 2015, 11:54 am

    It sounds like you’re having a hard time seeing your daughter as an adult because she’s not necessarily acting like one. It seems like that as she gets pulled away by this boy you are trying desperately to hang on to her. And I’m sure most parents would when they saw this happening. I think too it speaks volumes to this new distance between you all that should would text you and not call. But, I would caution you against doing anything that would alienate her too much. One would hope in time she would see this situation for what it is. And when that happens she’ll need you.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie October 6, 2015, 12:02 pm

    I’m not going to get into the religion v cult argument – but please don’t assume that this is not a standard but fundamentalist sect of a Judeo-Christian religion. A friend of the family married a very Orthodox Jewish man. They are restricted in where they can eat, when they can travel, and many other activities. It is very common for families in such fundamentalist sects to purchase a set of houses or build a compound like structure because they want to visit on holidays where walking is the only way to travel.

    That said – if this is the case (or a variation thereof) use that to your advantage: family and honoring parents and all that jazz. And of course the invite is extended for him. If special preparations are needed – do it. If you need to bring paper plates and plastic forks… do it. Whatever you need to do to show that you accept their religion and that you are not allowing them to isolate themselves soley with his family

    In these communities, people often marry young because they can’t have sex and they need to have as many babies as possible to please number one super diety. So don’t assume that she’ll grow out of this – she may commit to it and depending on the religion – may not have much choice in leaving (again, reference is orthodox Judiasm – if a wife wants to end the marriage a husband must consent to a divorce but if a husband wants a divorce, the wife has no choice in the matter. )

    I do not envy you.

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    • avatar

      Sue Jones October 6, 2015, 12:28 pm

      The difference is that in a case of predatory alienation or a cult, there will be no efforts towards peacemaking with both sides of the family. There will be no effort on the part of the boyfriend to cultivate and MAINTAIN a positive relationship with the girlfriend’s family, for example. Eventually even any communication of the girlfriend with her will be forbidden (or there will be hell to pay so she won’t even bother). Things are insidious some times. Like the old frog and pot of boiling water analogy. If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, it jumps out. If you put a frog into a pot of room temperature water, and slowly raise the heat, even to boiling, the frog stays in the pot and boils to death (sorry to all the vegetarians). These groups are very methodical in their indoctrination techniques. They slowly slowly change the rules until they have full control of their target.

      And yes I know, “she is (technically) an adult”. But why do these groups target young adults? Because young adults are impressionable and they are likely using a young adult’s natural urge to independence to draw them into a cult.And after the age of 18, a person can technically make catastrophic decisions for themselvs and parents have no legal recourse. You very rarely see older people unless they have gone through a huge life disruption or at an unstable phase in their lives or going through a transition joining these groups. These groups have the appeal in that they profess to have all of the answers to life’s problems and mysteries but it is ALL about power and money and control in the end. At the center of a cult you will likely see a charismatic narcissist or sociopath calling all the shots and answering to no one.

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  • avatar

    PumpkinSpice October 6, 2015, 12:57 pm

    I don’t have anything to add for you LW. I second the advice given by other posters and Wendy. Continue to be open and loving towards your daughter. If she breaks away from her boyfriend she will need you. I hope she is a strong minded young lady who will tire of his and his family’s crap and break away from these people. From what you write, he sounds mentally abusive, and I hope she gets out before anything physical happens. She will need you in the future. Just continue to be open and loving. Be excepting toward the boyfriend, even if it disgusts you to do so. But whatever you do, try not to be condescending and drive a wedge between you and your daughter. It will only make matters worse.

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  • avatar

    Lynnlynn October 6, 2015, 1:01 pm

    I have this in reverse. My brother is dating a girl who has pulled him away from his family and friends. They live 17 hours away and her family always gets all there time when they are here. She refuses to come to our home for any holidays or events. Including my wedding and to see our daughter. We have decided to treasure the time we get him, an hour or so here and there and not cause problems. They have been dating about 2.5 years- he has to figure this out himself.

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  • becboo84

    becboo84 October 6, 2015, 1:08 pm

    LW, I sympathize with you, but I do agree with several of the commenters above that it is pretty normal for a 20 year old young adult to alternate holidays with a SO’s family. Honestly, you should probably be relieved that this is the first time this has come up if she’s been with the boyfriend for 3.5 years.

    However, everything else you mentioned seems extremely alarming, especially the fact that she has lost her entire social group outside of him. I reiterate Wendy’s suggestion in trying to include him in family gatherings, even though he will most likely decline. Continue making the effort though so your daughter can see how hard you’re trying.

    Unfortunately though, I have to disagree with Wendy’s assertion that this is quite likely a simple case of a 20 something year old woman making a poor dating decision when she’s young. As mentioned by a commenter above, many extremely religious individuals get married at very young ages, and it wouldn’t surprise me if an engagement was in the near future.

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    • TaraMonster

      TaraMonster October 6, 2015, 3:43 pm

      I agree with this and was very, very alarmed by this letter. This is exactly how young women get sucked into religious fundamentalist groups- they marry in young, have children immediately, and wind up stuck. I certainly HOPE the LW’s daughter wakes up and walks away, but I think that hope is cold comfort in this situation.

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  • avatar

    anon October 6, 2015, 1:47 pm

    Not a solution to any of the big issues but here is a negotiation tactic that you can use.

    Can you tell your daughter that if she wants to spend Thanksgiving with the boy’s family, then it is only fair that both of them must spend Christmas with your family. IMO he will not be happy and that (just) might make your daughter think. ( long shot I know)

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  • avatar

    Ron October 6, 2015, 1:56 pm

    Daughter doesn’t seem to recognize what a HUGE favor her aunt has done for her in co-signing her student loans. If this young woman is about to vanish into an abusive cultish family, then the aunt can kiss this money goodbye, as this young woman is unlikely to repay her student loan. Not much parents can do in a situation like this, apart from serving as a safe spot to which daughter can retreat. Any attempt to separate her from this boy will only drive them closer together.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. October 6, 2015, 2:08 pm

    Wow, there’s a lot here. My family is divided like this. My mother cried the first time I spent a holiday somewhere else. Talk about guilt. Don’t do this to you daughter. But, my brother got involved with a fundamentalist religion which I would define as a cult. The situation is exactly as you describe: compound where everybody lives, kids are taught in the church school, etc. The only thing you can do is show your daughter you still support her. Do not issue any ultimatums. She may come to her senses on her own. For my brother, it took the “pastor” saying something so unspeakably evil about his unborn child that he finally broke with the church, although not completely since his inlaws (and mine) are still members. Show love to your daughter. It is your only hope for maintaining a relationship with her.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark October 6, 2015, 8:11 pm

    Eh, foolish people who make foolish decisions deserve to have miserable and shitty lives. Tell your daughter to go have a nice life and send her the occasional having-a-wonderful-time-wish-you-were-here holday postcard.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy October 6, 2015, 9:34 pm

    From the LW:

    Before visiting my daughter this Saturday in college( we had made plans a month ago) I asked my friends, family for advice on how to handle my face to face conversation with my daughter about Thanksgiving. My daughter and I had a nice time shopping and out to lunch.By the way her boyfriend lives one floor above my daughter in the dorm and did not have the decency to come say hello to me. He was texting her the whole time we were out together! During our time together I asked my daughter has she met any new girlfriends and does she go out with them. (Last year in college she played volleyball and had many friends and social opportunities. Her boyfriend and she did not seem as close during the volleyball season. In fact I believe that he was instrumental in convincing her not to do it this year . ) She said that she has been too busy studying (she’s a nursing student). She claims that her boyfriend has made friends but does not go out with them. If she has to study or can’t hang with him he stays in his room and watches T.V. Does this seem like normal college behavior?! When I dropped her off at her dorm I said “Your Father and I think that your place is with your family at thanksgiving. My daughter said that we could talk about it at another time. I said that this was how it was going to be. She said why are you trying to control my life and that if she wanted she could stay in the dorm over the Thanksgiving break! Then she walked away and went into her dorm and I drove back home. When I arrived back home I sent her this text,”So our conversation did not go well. I don’t want to fight with you. You know that I love you very much and am not ignoring your feelings. You are right that we still have to discuss this like adults without trying to hurt one another.” That was on Sat. She did not respond. On Monday there was an alert on the news that a gun attack might happen in the area where she goes to school. I texted her and said “be safe”. She replied “thank you.” We normally text almost everyday and now nothing. This is not like her. How much time should I let pass before I contact her to discuss this matter further? I really don’t know what to do now. I was thinking of saying to her that “I don’t want to control you. All I ask is that you take some time alone to think deep in your soul about what you think is the right thing for you to do. I will always love you no matter what”. I want her to know that I am there for her. Is this ok?

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy October 7, 2015, 5:33 am

      Yeah, honestly, I think if you want any hope of not alienating her further, the only thing you should be saying is, “I’m sorry.” Apologize for treating her like a kid instead of the young adult she is, tell her she’s old enough to decide where and with whom to spend Thanksgiving and although you will miss her you understand her wanting to be with her boyfriend, and then suggest that maybe next year the two of them spend Thanksgiving with her family. And then leave it alone. And re-read this column and all the comments if you need further advice or further explanation why insisting she attend Thanksgiving with you is not the right battle to choose here.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom October 7, 2015, 7:30 am

        I agree with Wendy. To save the relationship you need to apologize. After she complained that you were trying to control her life she probably went straight to her boyfriend to tell him all about it and he was completely sympathetic and on her side. You gave him the ammunition to make you look like the controlling tyrant and him the sympathetic considerate one. Apologize and tell her you hope that she enjoys Thanksgiving with his family and you will all miss her but understand that she will be sharing holidays between families.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom October 7, 2015, 8:01 am

        Also, invite the boyfriend every time you ask your daughter to come home or travel for a family event. That way he can’t say you are trying to separate them. If he comes be gracious. If he doesn’t come say you wish he had been able to come with her. Gracious kindness can go a long way towards showing his concerns to be ungrounded. He was probably raised with the view that people who don’t belong to his religion are bad and will try to do bad things. You need to be the outreach that proves that point of view wrong. You need to be kind and gracious and thoughtful. Invite him to come and ask if he has any dietary restrictions and what his favorite foods are so that you can make them or buy them. Be kind in a way that won’t match his world view. See if you can find any information about his family’s faith on the internet. Look them up by name. See what they believe and then direct your kindness in a way that might prove his views wrong while never mentioning them. Be kind in a way that makes him look bad if he says anything negative about your family. Do things like sending cookies to both your daughter and the boyfriend. Visit her at school and take them both to lunch. Always consider the long game plan, the plan to keep her in your family, and act accordingly.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph October 7, 2015, 8:59 am

        Agree completely! Out of all these things, the one truly NORMAL thing the daughter is doing is spending Thanksgiving with her boyfriend’s family. So let that go.
        You need to totally backpedal on this and make sure you don’t give her reason to move further away from you and into his clutches. Tell her you’re sorry, tell her you love her, tell her you respect her right to make decisions about where and how she spends holidays. Remember that only a few weeks after Thanksgiving the semester ends and you have a chance to see her… but only if she still wants to see you.

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      • Portia

        Portia October 7, 2015, 9:47 am

        It’s true that thanksgiving with a SO’s family is a completely normal thing to happen. I can see any daughter/son rebelling after a mother says you HAVE to spend Thanksgiving with the family. Heck, I probably would have done that and I haven’t had any controlling relationships.
        .
        OP, you managed to both lose the battle and get yourself closer to losing the war. Backpedal now, apologize now. I know parents that have been pushed away for far less in both healthy and abusive relationships. Act like the person she can come to in a crisis or when she needs someone to talk to.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy October 7, 2015, 10:32 am

        From the LW:

        “I think your advice about apologizing is good. Would it be wrong instead of giving her outright permission to go, could I ask her to take some time to do some serious thinking alone before she decides?”

        My advice to her: Did you read my advice at all? About the shorter term problem vs. the longer term problem here? Your daughter’s 20 year old. It’s natural that she begin spending some holidays with a significant other. If you don’t want to further alienate her, pick your battles and don’t make this one holiday such a big deal.

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh October 7, 2015, 11:05 am

        Oh geez. She’s not going to ever take your advice or read the advice here apparently. I mean I get that it’s hard to watch your kids grow up and make decisions that you think aren’t the best. But, this is doing nothing but driving her away. I honestly don’t think she’ll be able to let it go. She’ll be lucky if she sees her at any holidays again if she keeps this up.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom October 7, 2015, 11:11 am

        What you are missing here is that she doesn’t need your permission. Don’t in any way act like she does or infer that she does. You are trying to treat her like a child and there is no better way to drive a permanent wedge between you than to deny that she can now make her own decisions. Don’t ask her to think before she decides. She has already decided. Tell her you hope she’ll have fun and that you’ll miss her and ask her if she is taking any food to his parent’s home to share for the holiday or some other form of hostess gift.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph October 7, 2015, 11:12 am

        Seriously, LW get it through your head. You need to play defense here, in terms of protecting your connection to your daughter at all costs so you can be her lifeline if this religious cult nuttery goes south. Getting your way in the short term will be nothing if you lose your daughter forever into a cult.
        In any case, telling her to think about it is telling her you don’t think she HAS already thought about it, which is not treating her as an adult. Also, you shouldn’t really think of it as giving her permission because she, an adult, is not asking for your permission. She is telling you what she is doing.

        Honestly, I’m starting to doubt the veracity of the religious nuttery story, as if she is using that hoping to sway us that its a good idea to demand her daughter come home instead. If she were really concerned about her daughter being swept into a scary cult, she would be heeding our concerns about keeping the line of communication open at all costs rather than trying to get her way.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy October 7, 2015, 12:33 pm

        I also starting to understand why the daughter may feel particularly seduced by someone else controlling her who is not her controlling mother. It’s rebelling in a way that feels familiar. LW, please stop trying to control your daughter. Please stop treating her like a child. Treat her like an adult and keep the lines of communication open or you will drive a wedge between you that may separate you from her forever.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom October 7, 2015, 12:39 pm

        I was thinking something similar. The daughter is so used to a controlling mother that a controlling boyfriend doesn’t set off any red flags. She is so used to controlling she may not realize it isn’t the norm.

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh October 7, 2015, 12:41 pm

        Which is sad. I kind of wish we could reach out to the daughter and say neither your mother or your boyfriend are being normal here! Use your own voice and create boundaries!

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      • avatar

        anon October 7, 2015, 2:54 pm

        Geesh! IMO, no need for mother to apologize. The girl knows which side of her bread is buttered. Example, she made parents spend the money on her shopping and for her tuition fees. And made her aunt cosign her tuition loan. She will get back to you.

        Just keep quiet. Let your daughter approach you. She may say she is coming or not coming for thanksgiving.

        Do not be overtly joyful because she is coming or get mad if she is not coming. Do not rise the issue again with her by yourself. Your husband can talk to her as a intermediary for the time being.

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      • LadyinPurpleNotRed

        LadyinPurpleNotRed October 7, 2015, 2:56 pm

        Oh? She made them? They have no free will to say yes or no? I didn’t notice that anywhere. And given how the mother treats her daughter, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the other way around.

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh October 7, 2015, 2:57 pm

        Did she MAKE her parents do anything? Or did they choose to?

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      • avatar

        anon October 7, 2015, 3:10 pm

        Let me put it another way. May be girl did not make them do it. The parents have done it all out of love for their daughter.

        She never objected and is fine with the favors done for her. When it is her turn to do something for family, her independence suddenly kicks in.

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh October 7, 2015, 3:29 pm

        Choosing to spend Thanksgiving with her SO’s family, which many adults do? No, sorry. Adult children don’t have to pay back their parents for things they chose to do by doing everything they want them to. This isn’t doing something for her family, this is spending a holiday with her so’s family.

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      • avatar

        anon October 7, 2015, 7:13 pm

        Could not reply down so adding comment here.
        Yes, she is spending the holiday with a guy who does not have the decency to say hello to her mother. May be he can pay her bills from now onwards.

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh October 8, 2015, 8:10 am

        Sure so then the mother needs to set boundaries. But, my guess is the Mother is used to being the one in control (after reading her additional comments) and that is the issue here. Which is sad because maybe the boyfriend isn’t as crazy as she made him out to sound, but if he is then she’s pushing her daughter straight in to a terrible situation.

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    • avatar

      jlyfsh October 7, 2015, 8:10 am

      Apologize first as Wendy said. The right thing here isn’t necessarily to spend Thanksgiving with your family and that’s a separate issue from everything else you’ve talked about. But, if you continue to harp on that you will lose her.

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    • avatar

      Sunshine Brite October 7, 2015, 8:10 am

      Forget Thanksgiving, small potatoes. Apologize and try to get her to pick an alternative time that fits with her schedule to visit family next even if it isn’t until summer.
      .
      On second thought, just apologize and pick back up without mentioning when the next time you’ll see each other is yet. Let your relationship rebuild before approaching the subject of another visit.

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  • avatar

    Chris October 7, 2015, 5:21 am

    Did you read Wendy’s (and that of the commenters) AT ALL?

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom October 7, 2015, 7:27 am

      Saturday would have been the 3rd and the question was posted on Dear Wendy on the 6th. She didn’t have the chance to read the posts before she saw her daughter.

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      jlyfsh October 7, 2015, 8:10 am

      Yeah, she approached her daughter before getting advice from Wendy. Which was obviously a terrible decision.

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  • norabb

    norabb October 7, 2015, 8:21 am

    I don’t know guys…this sounds like a possibly abusive relationship to me. The red flags are very obvious. Isolating from friends and family…
    .
    Maybe the LW can talk to her daughter about healthy relationships? without being judgmental or trying to convince her to leave…but to lay it out that this is an abusive situation just waiting to happen.

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      SpaceySteph October 7, 2015, 8:45 am

      I was in an emotionally abusive relationship (far, far less troublesome than this one, though) and anyone who tried to tell me it was got cut out of my life. It was all “they don’t understand our special love” bullshit as I rationalized staying in the relationship. This ended 6 years ago and I sadly still haven’t repaired all of the friendships I tore apart over it.
      People in this situations WILL NOT LISTEN. Trying to get them to see your side of the argument, to see that the relationship is unhealthy… it will drive them away from YOU, not HIM. I really don’t think I can emphasize enough that the more the LW tries to help, the worse it will make it.

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    mrssmith707 October 7, 2015, 4:13 pm

    I have to share my thoughts. I’m a little late to the comments, but none the less, I feel like I’ve been in the daughter’s shoes.

    My mother is very controlling. Has been my entire life. She’s also hypocritical when it came to what I was “allowed” to do, even though she had no say so (financial or otherwise). I’d be held to one set of rules, that were then ignored and not required of my sibling who is 2 years younger than I am. She would throw tantrums over the phone, make unreasonable demands, and refused to let me be the adult I was trying to be.

    When I met my now husband back in 2007, we were sort of long distance. I fell in love with his home town, and made a plan to move. I did so on my own, finding work, then housing, and handling it all as an adult. They were dead set against it. They kept trying to make rule after rule after rule about when I was allowed to bring my boyfriend (now husband) and basically pushed me away by trying to guilt me into doing what they wanted. I went about 8 full months after she called him “a worthless POS” because he was a mechanic and not a “business professional.
    She would make up lies to other family members about how I’d disrespected her by moving, and not being with someone she chose. My now husband’s greatest offense to her? When my siblings all ganged up on me and proceeded to insult me at a family gathering, he told them they needed to stop and stood up to my family’s verbal abuse on my behalf. She saw him as a negative influence because he gave me the confidence to start standing up for myself.

    It got worse once him and I started going to a Christian Church, and I converted from Catholicism to my new form and slightly more conservative beliefs. They considered my beliefs and desire to regularly attend weekly services “Cultish” simply because it is different from them. My parents go to church about once every 5 years. I go to a very mainstream Christian Church, and it’s no where close to being a cult. They don’t abuse us, don’t require any strange practices, and by all US standards, it’s by no means a cult. But because it’s not “her religion” (that she rarely practices) she considers it brain-washing and cult-like.
    My mother refused to have anything to do with my wedding planning, was upset that it wasn’t in a catholic church and almost refused to come to my wedding. She did come and was amazed that my church people were “normal” and has since begun to accept my husband and does try to make amends but the damage has long since been done.

    You have to stop trying to control your daughter, LW. Guilt trips aren’t going to work, and will just push her away. Trust me. Perhaps, try to bridge the gap. Ask if you can attend one of her church services or bible studies. Learn what you can about her new belief system. If it’s that important to her, and she’s that important to you, maybe you need to give a little to gain her attentions back. Couldn’t hurt to try.

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  • avatar

    Sue Jones October 8, 2015, 12:09 pm

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