Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Teenage Daughter’s Boyfriend Smokes Weed And Sleeps With Other Girls”

My daughter, who is 18 and still in high school, has had the same boyfriend for about two years now. Recently it has come to the family’s attention that he smokes weed and has contacted other girls asking them to stay the night with him. I sat my daughter down the other night and told her everything. Of course, she cried and was very upset. I never told her to break things off with him. I told her to pray about it and think about it and that she would know the right thing to do. The next morning she went to see him to end things. She then proceeded to come home and tell me that she has decided that, after graduation, she will move away with him and live with him. She said that they talked with his mother and that his mother supports their relationship. Her boyfriend and his mother have convinced her that her whole family is lying to her! I don’t understand how she went to end things with him and ended up turning her back on her family in just a few short hours! We are a very Christian family and I have raised her to believe that living together is not okay. I have taken her phone and her car, but I am at a total loss as to what else to do, and I am desperate for advice. I can’t lose my baby girl to someone like this! Please help! — Afraid of Losing My Daughter

The fastest way for you to lose your daughter, who, by the way, is no longer a “baby,” is by continuing to try to control her life. One would hope that, as a Christian, you hold among values most important to you and those that you instilled in your daughter treating others as you would hope to be treated, being forgiving, loving with an open heart, and being compassionate. I hope that you can embrace those values now, even if what is more important to you is the perception others have of you and your family. If you don’t embrace those values and if you continue to try to turn your daughter against her boyfriend in an effort to keep her from living with him, you will only alienate her and turn her against you, which has already started to happen.

Furthermore, maybe your daughter did pray about this, as you asked her to do, and thought about it, and then what felt right to her was to trust her boyfriend’s intentions and his love for her and to stay with him. Why are you so convinced that what is your desire for her is God’s will? Or, for that matter, her will? This is an 18-year-old young woman who has been with her boyfriend for two years, so why is it a surprise that she would trust his word over hearsay you picked up from who knows where, especially when you are obviously motivated to end the relationship before it moves to a step you are uncomfortable with?

You need to back off and let your daughter live her life. You don’t have to financially support her. You don’t have to pay for her phone and car. But, I promise you, if you emotionally cut her off because she has chosen to stay with a boyfriend she loves, you will likely lose her. And you’ll have yourself to blame.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

91 comments… add one
  • avatar

    artsygirl April 28, 2016, 8:17 am

    LW – My mother told me that one of the hardest things she has ever done is letting her children go especially when she knew they were going to inevitably make mistakes. You love your daughter and want what is best for her, and you might be absolutely correct in your assessment of her boyfriend, but she is going to have to learn to stand on her own. She knows your feelings on the guy and the idea of them living together before marriage and obviously is willing to face your disappointment. You have done all that you could to this point and have to trust that she will make good decisions on her own.

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh April 28, 2016, 8:35 am

    I completely agree with Wendy. If you continue to push her in a certain way she will continue to rebel more. Obviously you don’t have to financially support her if you disagree with her lifestyle and I can understand choosing not to. But, there is not a lot you can do to make her make the choices you would prefer she make. You don’t have to agree with her to love her.

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  • avatar

    Napoleon1066 April 28, 2016, 8:36 am

    “It has come to the family’s attention.”

    Um… how did you get this information? You obviously didn’t get it through your daughter, and you don’t exactly seem to be the type to hang out with the weed smoking, inviting women to sleep over crowd.

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  • mandalee

    mandalee April 28, 2016, 8:49 am

    I completely agree with Wendy. LW, when I was 18, I was your daughter. I dated a guy that they absolutely couldn’t stand, so for the first time in my life, I started lying to my parents. They did a number of things (as you are) to break us up and decide for me, but if anything, it made me more insistent on how I felt. When it came time to leave for college, I was willing to go anywhere, as it was far from them. We have since repaired our relationship but it took years of work and drawing boundary lines with them before we got to an agreeable place. And the boyfriend? Was a total jerk, but it was up to me to find that out myself, not my parents, especially when I was an adult at the time. If anything, I probably stayed with him longer than I should have out of sheer stubbornness and an immature need to defy my parents more than anything else.

    So, as hard as it may be, it’s time to let your daughter to make her own mistakes (or not) and you need to step back and realize at this point, you are much more of a spectator in her life than you have ever been because she’s growing up. You don’t need to financially support her (my parents sure didn’t) but you need to respect that she’s at the time in her life where she needs to figure out what she whats to do and what her values are apart from what you believe they should be.

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  • avatar

    keyblade April 28, 2016, 8:51 am

    We are a very Christian family and I have raised her to believe that living together is not okay. I have taken her phone and her car, but I am at a total loss as to what else to do, and I am desperate for advice.

    My heart goes out to you letter writer. I can tell you deeply want what is best for your daughter. When she came back and announced her plan to abscond with her high school boyfriend because she was convinced her whole family was lying to her, I can understand your panicked reaction. I’m guessing in your mind she might as well have announced she was planning to join a cult.

    You are now in a delicate position. In your reaction you say that living together is not okay. The way you avoid alienating your daughter is to find a way to accept that she, as a young adult, might make choices that you that you don’t think are okay. You might be 100% correct. But if you become desperate for her to avoid choices that are not okay, she will most likely end up avoiding you. It sounds as though your daughter is quite impressionable. Watching her make choices that you believe are going to hurt her must be agonizing. But as her mother, your duty needs to be focused on her feeling loved and accepted. Qualifiers about how you love her but don’t accept her decisions will play into the hands of people who would have her convinced that you would lie and manipulate to get the outcome you want. It will be painful, but YOU MUST make it clear to her that you love and accept her regardless of how strongly you think she is making a mistake. Clearly she already knows how strongly you feel she is making a mistake.

    Get back on her side. Stop cutting isolating her from her car and phone. Prove that her boyfriend and his mother have mischaracterized your family. Invite the boyfriend’s mother for dinner. Get to know her. Find an ally in her if you can. Your daughter is in love. She is young and the world is huge. Wendy is correct that none of us can predict our journey and which mistakes will make valuable lessons. Your daughter is growing up. I believe it is “God’s” will for us all to love with humility and grace. We are allowed to make mistakes. As a Christian, surely you believe in an atonement. And surely, you know it is not for any of us to judge the moral workings of another. The decision to support your daughter does not need to conflict you with your faith. Pray for her. Pray for her boyfriend and his mom. Find softness. You won’t be led astray.

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  • avatar

    hazel April 28, 2016, 8:57 am

    what everyone else says, plus- smoking a bit of weed really isn’t the end of the world, I doubt very much that this was news to your daughter, plus these other girls he makes welcome to spend the night may just be friends who happen to be female, and if they spend the evening with him smoking weed then he’d be a jerk to let them drive home high- these are all very normal teen behaviours, like having a few beers. You are absolutely entitled to your views and values but you might be able to maintain contact with a daughter you clearly love if you take a deep breath, and speak to some of the more unconventional people in your social circle who might be able to reassure you that you are tilting at windmills here. The horrible threat you see looming over her head is really not as scary as you think it is, and if you can be more accepting you will be in a better place to advise her when a real threat is on the horizon.

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  • avatar

    gigi April 28, 2016, 9:13 am

    LW when I was your daughter’s age (& just a bit younger) My parents found fault with any guy I talked to, not even dated. My mom would call for arrest records, driving records…whatever she could get her hands on to present the “evidence” of what a loser this guy was. When I actually started dating someone, they “kidnapped” me out to the country & sat with me in our van on a gravel road, & alternated between berating me & pleading with me to see the errors of my ways & forbid me from seeing him. Guess what happened. I married him. I married an abusive alcoholic jerk just to rebel against my parents & prove them wrong. I knew they were right, but would I ever admit that? Hell no!!! And I stayed with him years longer than I should have, to prove a point. LW – don’t be those parents, let her make her own mistakes, even if you don’t agree with her choices. Trust that you raised her well enough to discover these things on her own. Just love her & be there for her.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom April 28, 2016, 9:22 am

    As a parent raising a child you get to choose how to raise them including teaching them your religious beliefs. Once they are an adult they get to choose their own faith, which can mean no faith or a totally different faith, and to develop their own moral values. You can’t impose yours. You don’t have to financially support her but you do need to let her find her own way and accept that her way may not be what you would choose for her.

    I think you would go a long way toward keeping her in your life if you tell her that you love her and realize that she is now an adult and making her own decisions. You can tell her that you know you won’t always agree with her decisions but you will always love her and if she leaves she can always come back home.

    My mom tried the heavy handed I’m the boss and you’ll do what I say approach with my older brother when he was a young adult and it backfired completely. He moved out and distanced himself and then she complained that he never came to see them. The only way that he could be a man was to distance himself and make his own life decisions. The only way your daughter can be a woman is to make her own decisions and some of them will be mistakes and it will hurt to see her make them. Tell her you realize she isn’t your baby girl anymore she is your adult daughter and you understand she will make her own decisions. You can’t force her into being your baby girl when she is a young woman. The only way she can be an adult is to make her own decisions. If you have been controlling of all of her decisions through childhood to insure she made no mistakes you will find her now making bigger mistakes as a young adult because she is forced to put her foot down or never be her own person but has little experience in making important decisions. She will have to rebel against you to be able to respect herself.

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  • avatar

    Northern Star April 28, 2016, 9:24 am

    I have more sympathy for the LW than Wendy. Maybe it was edited out, but I didn’t see this mother (father?) worry about “what the neighbors would think” so much as she’s afraid her daughter is going to tie her life to a liar who does illegal drugs and isn’t faithful. If the LW had a real, unfounded problem with the BF, she wouldn’t be just starting to try and break them up two whole years into their relationship. And nobody thinks it’s a good idea for a young kid to move in with a partner right after high school graduation (who’s paying for that, again?). Come on. What parent wouldn’t be worried for this girl’s future? Unfortunately, there isn’t anything the LW can effectively do to stop her daughter. She can only pray for her, and hope that being a calm, loving presence in her life eventually helps when the daughter wises up and needs a soft place to land.

    It will be very hard to watch for the LW, but people make all kinds of dumb decisions and come out the other side all right.

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    • avatar

      Northern Star April 28, 2016, 9:54 am

      One other thought: It will probably hurt, but LW: Please be proactive about birth control for your daughter. Living with a loser for awhile isn’t the end of the world, but obviously a baby changes everything. No matter how uncomfortable it makes you, pay for the pills or the shots or whatever she needs. Think of them as an insurance policy.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy April 28, 2016, 9:59 am

      The daughter wasn’t talking about moving in with her boyfriend until the mother/LW told her he smokes weed and invites other women to stay the night with him — information that she attained how again? Oh, right, she doesn’t say how — just that the information was brought to her attention. Was there any proof? I doubt it since none was mentioned.

      Reading between the lines, and yes, through my own bias (I tend to believe that people who call themselves Christians but don’t exhibit very Christian-like values are hypocrites), I see a woman who wasn’t so bothered by her girlfriend’s boyfriend until it seemed other people — probably someone from her church if I had to guess — started telling her shit about him. And then, suddenly, it wasn’t, “Huh, I’ve known this guy for two years, my daughter seems to love and trust him, so maybe what I’m hearing doesn’t reflect the whole truth.” It was: “My daughter needs to leave this guy and I will pretend to let her come to that conclusion on her own, but if she doesn’t, I’ll take away all her privileges until she bows under my control.”

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      • avatar

        Northern Star April 28, 2016, 10:03 am

        That’s your lens, I suppose. Mine is different. My parents aren’t “super Christian,” but they would have the exact same concerns if people started telling them my boyfriend was a pot-smoking, cheating loser. And the BF’s mother sounds like a fool—who tells her just-graduated-from-high-school son to move in with his GF? Is there any talk of college? Who’s paying for them to live together?

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy April 28, 2016, 10:14 am

        Yes, different lens. For one thing, I don’t lump all pot-smokers as losers, geez. I do think a woman who urges her teenage son and his girlfriend to move in together sounds unhinged though. But so does a mother who urges her daughter to pray instead of, I don’t know, having a frank and open conversation with her about her concerns.

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      • avatar

        Northern Star April 28, 2016, 10:23 am

        The mom (I assume? Maybe dad?) DID have a conversation with her daughter. According to the letter, the mom tried not to tell her what to do. “Pray on it,” while sounding stupid to you, is a very open-ended statement that means, “think hard about the right thing to do.” Mom didn’t ban the boyfriend or demand that they break up until daughter announced plans to move in with the kid after high school graduation. NO parent would be okay with that “plan.”

        (And if true, a BF who cheats on his GF is a loser, in my book. Pot issues aside.)

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      • avatar

        Ron April 28, 2016, 10:41 am

        “If true” being a huge qualifier. LW has no direct knowledge, so can’t possibly be certain it’s true. Daughter obviously talked to her bf and is convinced it isn’t true. “Pray on it” to me says to follow the family religious values. It means decide what our preacher would want you to do, not “think about this and decide what YOU think is the best thing to do” — huge difference.

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      • avatar

        Northern Star April 28, 2016, 10:56 am

        Depends on your church, doesn’t it, Ron? Many churches emphasize the importance of biblical study and drawing your own conclusions. We don’t know what church this lady belongs to or what she means by “Christian.” Could be traditional Catholic, could be new-age evangelical.

        There are so many assumptions about this LW (including mine) going on in this thread. It actually makes me rather sad. It seems like admitting you’re raising your kids Christian and believe moving in before marriage isn’t good (something that many people agree with…) means you are wrong to have those morals, super controlling, and maybe don’t even love your kids (!).

        It seems like the assumption is that Christian = wrong, and the daughter is somehow making an intelligent decision by moving in with her boyfriend immediately after high school graduation.

        If this was the daughter writing in, there is no way Wendy would be writing about trusting the BF’s love for her and jumping in with both feet by moving in together. She’d be advising the girl to explore her options and focus on making it on her own in the world. That could also be what the LW wants. That’s what most parents want.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom April 28, 2016, 11:17 am

        A Catholic would identify themselves as Catholic. I’m a Catholic in an extended Catholic family and no one has ever identified themselves as Christian rather than Catholic. Even the atheist members of the family identify as former Catholics or ex-Catholics but not as former Christians or ex-Christians. The Orthodox Catholics that I know identify as Orthodox.

        I don’t think anyone is saying it would be a good idea to move in with the boyfriend. Everyone is saying that this out of the control of the mother and she will have to let her daughter make her own decisions and live with the consequences of those decisions. If she reaches out with love and compassion without the strong-arming techniques she will be much more apt to maintain a good relationship with her daughter than by going to war with her. If the mother tries to force her will on her daughter the daughter will move out for sure and the gulf between mother and daughter will be huge. Most are trying to give advice that will help to limit the damage and save the mother/daughter relationship. No one is saying her values are wrong. People are saying if you try to enforce them on an adult child the adult child will leave you. Your adult child has to learn to think and act in their own best interest and will sooner or later disagree with you. They may disagree about religion or about marriage or about living with someone before marriage or about college or about having children. There are so many choices in life there is no way that they can make the choice you want in every thing that they do. They can’t go through life asking if their mom will approve of what they are doing. They must ask if this decision is good for them and their relationship and their life. Will this action help or hinder them in reaching their goals.

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      • avatar

        Northern Star April 28, 2016, 12:36 pm

        But that’s exactly what I said in my first comment as well. I just feel like it’s possible the LW isn’t a controlling fool who handled everything wrong and could indeed be valid in her feelings about this entire situation. She can’t do anything to “fix” the problem, but I think it’s unfair to scold her as a failing parent because she is Christian and has expectations for her kids.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom April 28, 2016, 7:36 pm

        I would never consider her feelings invalid. I don’t know of any parents who would want their just graduated from high school daughter moving in with a boyfriend. I’d prefer my daughter remain focused on college and would try to keep her on that path.

        I’ve told both of my kids that as adults they will make their own decisions about religion. I think most parents assume that if their faith is meaningful to them and they raise their children in their faith then the children will automatically live that faith as adults. It doesn’t work that way. Sometimes people remain in the faith and sometimes they don’t. I’ve seen so many people change their faith or drop the faith of their childhood and the parents would be upset but as a parent you have to know that there are no guarantees about faith. There is no set way to raise a child that will guarantee that they remain in your chosen faith or even to have a faith. You get to choose how to raise them and to practice your faith in what is to you a meaningful way. When they leave home they will make their own decisions.

        If the daughter lives with a boyfriend at some point in the future and her and the boyfriend come to visit the parents and stay over night it is perfectly fine for the parents to put them in separate bedrooms because even though the young couple is sleeping together in their own home the parents have their own rules in their own home. Across the board they can have their own rules in their own home but at the same time realize that those rules don’t extend beyond their home. Their daughter is announcing that she will leave their home to escape their rules. That is a choice she can make. If I was the parent I wouldn’t financially support her because if she wants to be an independent adult part of that is being financially self-supporting. You don’t need to financially support the decision but you also can’t enforce your choices beyond your home.

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      • avatar

        Emily April 29, 2016, 6:00 am

        I think the reason people are assuming the LW is an evangelical Christian is the phrasing “we are a very Christian family”. I’ve never heard anyone other than evangelical Christians use the qualifier “very” to describe their faith, and the whole phrase suggests an authoritatively decided familial faith, rather than parents sharing their faith with their children, in the knowledge that those children may not agree with them.

        The inclusion of the faith is also, from my perspective interesting, because, as you say, not many parents want their teenage daughter to move in with her boyfriend. But they usually justify this with the entirely reasonable “we want her to concentrate on her own life and development” and possibly “we don’t particularly approve of the boy in question”. Justifying not wanting her daughter to move in with the boy because they are “a very Christian family” to me says that she is more concerned with the family’s image than with her daughter’s development.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy April 29, 2016, 7:11 am

        YES! Thank you for explaining this better than I’ve been able to. It’s all about reading between the lines, as it usually us with any letter asking for advice. You look for clues that paint a bigger picture than the content of the letter may provide, and that qualifier “very” in reference to Christian is a big one, as is, as you say, the idea that it’s being “very christian” that makes the parents concerned about their daughter moving in with her boyfriend. Any reasonable parent would be concerned about this! What does being “very christian” have to do with it?

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      • avatar

        keyblade April 29, 2016, 7:20 am

        This is a well reasoned response to why many are assuming this is an evangelical Christian writing. None the less it is basically justifying the use of stereotypes.

        I’ll add that I don’t think Wendy gave her advice based on stereotypes but rather the letter writer’s tone of judgment surrounding the use of pot and pre-marital co-habitation.

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      • avatar

        keyblade April 29, 2016, 7:21 am

        Oops! Sorry Wendy. I didn’t realize you had already responded.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy April 28, 2016, 10:56 am

        I don’t see any indication of a discussion. The LW says she “never told her to break things off” with the boyfriend, but she doesn’t mention what she DID advise or discuss, other than “pray about it” and “think about it.” Where’s the discussion about how the daughter feels hearing these things, whether there’s ever been any indication that her boyfriend could be a cheater (or pothead, for that matter), and how important it is to judge someone’s character not on what you believe his potential is but on what he has shown himself to be, or how important it is to base your self-worth not on a boy’s commitment to you but on how you treat people and how well you live by your principles — or what your principles and values are! — even when it isn’t convenient?

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom April 28, 2016, 11:28 am

        If he was a pothead they would smell it on him. There is no way he could spend many evenings smoking pot at home and not have the smell in his clothes. It is such a distinctive smell that surely they would have noticed it and not needed someone to inform them. The daughter would have also seen some signs of it at his house. He would have to hide a fundamental part of who he is for two years for the girlfriend to not know he smoked pot in his home unless she was never in that home which seems doubtful.

        If he’s inviting girls over to spend the night the daughter would soon find out that he’s a cheat after moving in with him. The mother would be further ahead to discuss red flags in a relationship. I wonder if this is based on idle gossip or if he texted some girl to come over who knew the family and she showed the texts to other people. There may or may not be a basis for this. If there are texts out there from him to a girl who is talking about those texts they should ask her to show the daughter so that she can see for herself and then not pressure her to breakup with him. Getting over a romance can be a slow process and becoming unhappy with that relationship can be the first step and yet not lead to an instant break up, especially in a first love type of relationship. It can be hard to see that you need to break things off with a first love even when there is a huge red flag waving in your face. They first need to see if there is a red flag.

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      • muchachaenlaventana

        muchachaenlaventana April 28, 2016, 11:39 am

        lol this is definitely not true. “Potheads” don’t constantly reek of the smell of it.

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      • Monkeysmommy

        Monkeysmommy April 28, 2016, 2:07 pm

        Very true! I have known many a pothead who never smelled! My issue wouldn’t be the pot, it would be my naive 18 year old daughter moving in with a guy who is likely to knock her up (how many of those letters have we all read), cheat on her, and send her home to mommy. I wouldn’t make it easy on my kid to see this guy, if it is all true. And it is possible this girl has a sibling or cousin at the same school or in the same group of friends who does reliably know what’s up and told the mom. And no decent guy or his mom would push a wedge between the girl and her family and declare them all liars, and decide they should shack up. Talk about zero to 60, here.

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      • avatar

        hobbesnblue April 28, 2016, 2:27 pm

        Seconded. I’ve dated a couple “potheads” (according to these people’s likely definition) in my time, before I started smoking it myself, and you’d never know, unless they were blazing up on their work breaks and immediately coming back inside with the smoke still wafting behind them.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom April 29, 2016, 7:07 am

        I live in a northern climate where we get a lot of snow and it is cold and windy through the winter. Lots of people will smoke outside during the summer and you don’t smell it on them but during the winter they are smoking inside and during the winter you smell it on them. It clings to their clothes and especially their coats because they aren’t washed very often. I work in a public place and people comment about the smoke smell on people all the time. There is the smoke smell of people who heat with wood. The smoke smell of people who smoke cigarettes and the smoke smell of people who smoke weed. They are all different and most people recognize each of them and make comments. I doubt the people coming in realize how much scent is riding along with them. We even had a family who heated their home with hickory and came in smelling like barbecue. It would make everyone want to pick up some barbecue for dinner on the way home.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray April 28, 2016, 10:01 am

      I agree that this mother may have some valid concerns. But I think her problem is how she approaches her daughter. Instead of taking phones away and telling her to pray, I might try having a frank conversation with her about life and goals and character and … I dunno. What Wendy said.
      *
      Related: I don’t understand the “you do something ‘bad’ so I take stuff away” tactic of parenting. Are we encouraging our kids to do the right thing so they can get stuff? I don’t like that one bit.
      *
      Related but definitely rambling into random territory: I was reading a book to my son about this little blue truck that was friendly and all the farm animals loved him. There was a big mean truck that was not friendly and he drove past everyone with a big scowl and was too busy to say hi. All the farm animals hated him. Well the plot thickened quickly when the big mean truck got stuck in the mud. None of the farm animals would help him. The little blue truck tried to help but he got stuck, too. The farm animals raced to help the little blue truck. The big mean truck was helped just because he had the good fortune to get stuck with the popular truck. The lesson learned by the big mean truck was to be nicer to the farm animals….. So we should be nice to people because we may need them one day? That’s a shitty message. Shame on the farm animals for only helping their pal and turning their nose up at the big mean truck. I mean, he wasn’t even mean; he was just socially a little rough around the edges. The only good guy was the little blue truck. This book isn’t my favorite but the pictures are pretty! I find myself becoming really critical of kids books.
      *
      Not related at all to this letter but it relates to popular parenting techniques: I also don’t like the concept of allowances and won’t be teaching my son about money, saving, spending via an allowance. I hate the “your money v my money” concept. And I hate the “it’s my money, I can do what I want with it” concept. Does everyone here give their kids allowances?

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray April 28, 2016, 10:06 am

        I don’t have a lot of strong opinions about parenting. For example, you’ll never hear me say “I will never let my kid watch TV” or something. But the allowance thing, I don’t know why I have come to really, really hate the concept. Especially such a seemingly benign and popular concept. But I really really hate it. That’s the one thing I am pretty sure I’ll stick to. (Other than that, for most things people say about kids in the future “I won’t do this, I won’t do that,” I laugh because you never know what will be right for you at that time. But the allowance thing, really, I bet money my feelings will only become stronger against it.) Why am I still talking?

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      • avatar

        Northern Star April 28, 2016, 10:12 am

        I didn’t get an allowance, and I turned out fine. Well… maybe that’s not the best example. 😉

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy April 28, 2016, 10:20 am

        Curious: why are you so against allowance? I haven’t really thought about it yet, but Jackson has a piggy bank where he keeps cash that family send in greeting cards, etc., and it’s been a good way to start introducing concepts of economics — of considering what (material items ) you want and if you want them enough to spend your piggy bank money on them, knowing that when that money is gone, it’s gone and you are left with the item you chose to exchange it for. I guess in my mind, an allowance sort of follows that idea with the additional concept of earning money through doing chores, etc., But like I said, I haven’t thought much about it yet and drew and I haven’t discussed it yet.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray April 28, 2016, 10:30 am

        Well, the piggy bank – I think that’s great. Teaching kids to save money, to consider what things cost, what things we need v. what things we want, all good stuff. It’s the “mine versus yours” concept of money that I hate. That’s part of why I don’t like the allowance. The other part is I want my kid to do chores because we all have chores to do, and not because he’ll get stuff. I think a lot of people introduce allowances because they think “but then how will my kid have money to spend” and to that I say my kid has my money, it’s our money. If he needs something we’ll talk about it and see if it makes sense to buy it. …. As I type this out it all seems like a subtle point and the allowance concept seems so benign but for some reason to me I see it as going against the core of my beliefs when it comes to money and family and family responsibilities, etc. I don’t know when/how I got so opinionated about the allowance.

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki April 28, 2016, 10:46 am

        I kind of got an allowance, but not really. Like, my mom gave me spending money and stuff but I was expected to do chores either way because I was a member of the family. Chores did not equal allowance. I did have the option to earn extra money if I did harder/less frequent/more unusual chores that weren’t part of the day-to-day upkeep of our (key word there) home.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom April 28, 2016, 11:05 am

        I’ve never given my kids an allowance. Most kids will spend whatever amount you give them as fast as they can. If they go on a school trip they spend all of the money they were given on that trip. I’ve watched kids buy things at Scholastic book sales that they had no interest in because they had to spend their last 50 cents and took the ugly eraser if that was the only way to spend their last quarter. I would give my daughter a set amount to spend and would also tell her that she could keep anything that was left over and save it for the next book sale. She only picked things she wanted and sometimes took over half of her money home. I’ve done the same with other things. I spend a set amount on each kid for their birthday and for Christmas. My son has always combined all the money from everyone to buy one expensive item and usually had little left over. My daughter will find a few things she wants for her birthday or for Christmas and have lots left over so if she comes to me later and asks me to order her a book or a costume or a t-shirt I’ll do it because she still has money remaining. They are both happy with the choices they make even though they spend their money in very different ways. I never urge her to choose more items just so that all of her money is spent at the time of her birthday or Christmas. I think this comes down to respect who your child is and how they structure their life and don’t try to make them do it in a different way as long as what they are doing works.

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        LadyClegane April 28, 2016, 5:39 pm

        You know, I really agree with this. I came from a home that was really money tight and when things were good they were great, but when they were bad they were quite tough. My Dad was also a stay at home Dad so he really struggled with his own preconceptions regarding care work and invisible labor and monetizing it all so it kind of brought us together in the struggle and in the good times to think of everything as “our money.”

        Even now as a late-twenties grad school student with a stipend, I think of my paycheck as part of “our money” because I like to help in any way when necessary. I think it’s more important to teach a kid to think responsibly as a member of a family unit that shares one wallet than as someone on their own, but to each his own. I suspect ethnic minorities would lean toward this school of thought more frequently since we often have these kinds of family structures.

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      • kare

        kare April 28, 2016, 11:44 am

        The allowance thing taught me how to manage money. But I earned my allowance through grades…which was nice because I later earned scholarships through grades. I got $5 for every A on my report card, so it’s not like I got a ton of money. My parents would also give my brother and me extra money if we helped with complex chores. We were allowed to blow our money on whatever (ehem, Beanie Babies), but with a max of $35 for six weeks, I wasn’t buying anything my parents were adamantly against. I have no problems managing my money now, so I guess it worked? My parents also taught me how to balance a checkbook and are now horrified I just check my bank account online. (“But where do you store your receipts?!”)

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      • honeybeenicki

        honeybeenicki April 28, 2016, 12:34 pm

        Oh beanie babies, how I loved you!

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      • kare

        kare April 28, 2016, 12:05 pm

        It’s so weird seeing this from the other side. My parents would describe themselves as Christian, and we were raised not to live together before marriage. I’ve dated some losers, but my parents mostly keep their opinions to themselves unless I ask. But my brother is the stoner (but heroin, not pot – not even my Republican parents consider weed a big deal) loser cheating on his girlfriends, and those poor girls. Their parents will say he’s not a good guy, they should find someone without a crippling drug addiction, etc. It drives them right into my brother’s arms. Every. Single. Time. My mom also tries to warn the poor girls that he will steal from them, lie to get money from them, and all sorts of things. They just ignore it because he’s a war hero that just needs the right person to cure him of his PTSD. It never ends well. And of course the parents of the girls somehow blame my parents for it, threaten them to repay whatever my brother has stolen, etc. Ugh. So I agree with Wendy’s advice to be supportive of your daughter. I’d also recommend getting to know his parents. They could be weirdos, or they could be parents that are supporting their son knowing that he has to learn for himself. And if he really is a stoner loser, maybe they see the LW’s daughter as a positive influence that can inspire him to move out, get a job, etc.

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        keyblade April 28, 2016, 10:16 am

        I haven’t but I plan to start giving allowance for certain extra chores. My son wants to have a lemonade stand this summer. I did one when he was younger and I bought the lemons for him. This time I’m making him price out the ingredients and think about how much he can reasonable sell to make profit. He will use birthday money he has saved up. My personal motivation is for him to notice and appreciate the cost of things. I don’t want him to take money for granted later on when he makes choices about his career. And I want him to start looking around at the cost of his life so he appreciate the work that his dad does and and the gift he is getting when he gets signed up for lessons and activities.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray April 28, 2016, 10:23 am

        I want the same things for my son but I believe you can teach those things without giving allowances. He can consider costs and needs using my (our) money. Like, I don’t want him to think “oh my mom gave me $20 so I can do what I want with it, but if it’s my money, I should be responsible” or even “it’s my money, so I can blow it on junk if I want.” I want him to be responsible with the family money. (Please ask me later if I stuck to what I am about to say:) I will never ever give my son money for doing chores (regular or extra) because he should do them because they need to get done. (I really have no idea why I am so opinionated about this topic and why it gets me so … impassioned. Like, I want to get coffee with you and talk more and more about it because I have such strong feelings about the disservice that the allowance does (imo)! I mean, I’m not trying to tell you not to give your kid an allowance, I just like talking about it. That, and finances in relationships; love love love talking about it.

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      • avatar

        keyblade April 28, 2016, 10:26 am

        Start a thread!

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray April 28, 2016, 10:31 am

        Yeah, sorry LW, I am rambling today. Back to you, LW!

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      • avatar

        keyblade April 28, 2016, 10:33 am

        No, I think its interesting enough that it would make a good forum discussion, that’s all. I’m saying this as I have to get off DW…

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      • avatar

        hazel April 28, 2016, 10:45 am

        agree very interesting topic.

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      • avatar

        snoopy128 April 29, 2016, 8:48 am

        My parents did two really cool things that I want to emulate.
        1. We got an allowance, but it was considered a small portion of the family’s pot of money that I got to spend any way I wanted. If I wanted an increase in allowance, I had to show a budget and a plan and give reasoning why I thought I deserved a “raise”. I also had to show that I was contributing to the family.

        2. Any time I earned any money (jobs like babysitting, holiday/birthday money), my parents took half “to put into the family pot”. In reality, they were putting it away and investing it for me. And then after I was done undergrad, they unveiled the leftover portion that didn’t go into my school fees. It was pretty cool to see what saving and investing did to my money. And it’s a lesson I wouldn’t have had the patience to see through in my teens.

        **I recognize my privilege in this post. But I think the underlying concepts are what’s important.**

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        snoopy128 April 29, 2016, 8:51 am

        *oops. I should say i didn’t get to spend my allowance *any* way I wanted. It was more for ‘fun money’ like going to the movies with friends and for buying birthday presents and small treats. The point wasn’t to let me do what I wanted. The point was to budget the amount I had to meet my needs and wants. Should I have wanted something extravagent (or not in line with my family’s beliefs)- like a gameboy, I wouldn’t be allowed to use allowance because it was ‘family money’, not ‘my’ money.

        And it progressed. I think I was 14 when my mom said “this is how much we spend on clothing in a year for you, I’m going to turn this amount over to you to spend on clothing and the things you need. If you blow it, that’s all you get”. So essentially she turned the budgeting of my own needs slowly over to me.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom April 29, 2016, 7:11 am

        I think you need to be a good friend to have good friends and maybe that is the moral of the story. A mean grumpy person isn’t going to have friends while the warm, kind person will.

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    • avatar

      Ron April 28, 2016, 10:33 am

      I agree with Wendy. It’s clear from what the LW wrote that she is basing all of this upon gossip. It seems reasonable to assume that her strong reaction is at least partially due to being embarrassed by the gossip. Nothing she writes suggests strongly that the gossip she heard must be true. And yes, smoking marijuana is not a huge deal and not at all rare among young adults, even young adults from strong Christian families.

      Parents generally do try to do what is best for their children, although they are acting on how society was in their young adulthood, or even how their own parents parented, which was based upon the world of the 1940s. The world is changing. It’s changing very rapidly. Many parents act more out of preservation of their own image in the community than out of love for their children.

      Part of the change is the world is that LW just assumes that daughter will live in her community as an adult and doesn’t want to get a ‘reputation’ among the old church people. Likely daughter doesn’t intend to stay in community and doesn’t give a flip what the old church ladies think of her.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom April 28, 2016, 9:48 am

    You talked to your daughter and told her to pray on it and make a decision but it was obvious what you assumed that decision should be then she went to break up and they talked to her and she followed their advice. I think what you are seeing is a young woman who has always had someone else (you) telling her what to think and do and she has never learned to think for herself. Now her sphere of influence has enlarged to include her boyfriend and his mom and they are on an equal footing with you and so she does whatever someone argues most forcefully and/or follows what the last person told her she should do. You’ve raised a daughter who has been trained to follow what someone tells her she should do but who can’t or doesn’t think it through for herself and make her own decision. You’ve protected her to the point that she can’t think or act independently. You can protect children to the point where you make them weak and malleable. I think that is what you are seeing in your daughter. As a mother of a teenage daughter I know I wouldn’t want my daughter dating your daughter’s boyfriend and I certainly wouldn’t want her to move in with him. I feel your angst. The best you can do at this point is to encourage her to think for herself and to make her own decisions. If you have other children it would be a good time to give them the security of a loving home with values but to not try to guide every decision that they make. They need to practice thinking and making decisions and experiencing the disappointment or discomfort of a poor decision. They have to personally learn what works and doesn’t work in their own life.

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    • avatar

      Anon April 28, 2016, 6:14 pm

      This.

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      Anonymousse April 28, 2016, 9:07 pm

      Absolutely.
      You really need to evaluate how you’ve raised her, in that it does sound like you’ve expected her to do as you think…by being overly influential. She is likely not as accepting of your beliefs fully, but instead of teaching her to think for herself, you’ve taught her to “pray on it.” So what it sounds like has happened, is boyfriend and his mom, are more convincing, influential and perhaps more open minded than you are. I’ve seen plenty moms concerned about other more sheltered kids, so her or idea of them moving in together doesn’t sound so out of place if that’s the case.

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      • avatar

        Anonymousse April 28, 2016, 9:10 pm

        LW, if you take any of this advice…please take this:
        Butt out
        Make her an appointment to get birth control

        BIRTH CONTROL

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  • avatar

    wobster109 April 28, 2016, 9:55 am

    LW, I sincerely hope you’d love your daughter if she were a Buddhist, Muslim, or Atheist. She is your daughter. I hope you’d love her if you were Buddhist, Muslim, or Atheist. You don’t have to be Christian to love.

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    • avatar

      Northern Star April 28, 2016, 10:00 am

      Where did you see the LW say he or she is considering not loving the daughter anymore?

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      • avatar

        wobster109 April 28, 2016, 10:11 am

        Just the emphasis on “we are a Christian family”. I trust LW would love her daughter no matter what. I’m hoping LW will think about her love and use that as her guide, instead of slapping a religious label on it. When someone says “we are a [insert religion] family”, that tends to mean “I’m going to be very rigid on this and never let it drop even if it makes home hell for my daughter”. So the religious label actually obscures any discussion or compromise they might otherwise have.

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  • avatar

    wobster109 April 28, 2016, 10:35 am

    LW, one additional thing. Please accept that you’re not in control anymore. My mother freaked out when she wasn’t in control. She tried to exert her influence in the most ridiculous ways: where I went for lunch, which pocket I put my phone in, the length of the strap on my purse, and above all why everything was dangerous! Going camping, going running, spending the night at a friend’s place. Over and over — she honestly believed that if she said it again, this time it would be different, even if she already said it 100 times. She accused me of holding her emotionally hostage. She said I was “abusing” her. She threatened to call police to do a welfare check on me. She tried to veto my friends, and when I resisted, she asked me “why do you want to be a loser?”

    The only thing I ever changed was to talk to her less.

    LW, please try to take your daughter’s choice as a fact of life, something you can’t change. The best thing you can do is stop fighting about it. You have two choices.
    1. Accept your daughter’s decisions. She will graduate in May and move in with her boyfriend. You tell her, “I’m always here if you need anything, and I love you.” Maybe it works out and maybe it doesn’t, but she’ll let you know. You call her weekly.
    2. Fight tooth and nail. She fights back. Home is a battleground every night. You’re both angry and exhausted. Come May she moves in with him anyway. Says to herself, “thank God I’m not living at home anymore.” She doesn’t tell you anything, not even when she’s genuinely struggling. When you call her she says “I can’t talk”. *Click* goes her phone. The next time it goes to voicemail.

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    • avatar

      Anonymousse April 28, 2016, 10:56 am

      Wow, wobster! I had a similiar experience with my mom. She’s still treating my younger sister like that, who is in her midtwenties!
      LW- you know the saying, “if you love something, set it free…”

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  • avatar

    Anonymousse April 28, 2016, 10:39 am

    So….you respect and believe whomever told you this bit of rumor….and not your daughters own judgement? Even if she is wrong about her feelings for him, she needs to live her own life, free of judgement from you. People make mistakes. People need to make mistakes and live their own life, with love, support and encouragement from their parents….not whatever this is. It’s interesting to me that you believe this rumor you heard, but not the actual boy and mother who have been in your daughters life for two years. Think about that, LW. And maybe start treating the people in your life better than those telling you gossip.

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  • avatar

    Ele4phant April 28, 2016, 11:07 am

    When I was 18 my boyfriend was a stoner idiot. When my parents found out he smoked weed, they never told me he wasn’t a good guy or insist I stay away from him. They did however make it exceedingly difficult to get out of the house (and by proxy see him): they took away “my” car, suddenly our family had mandatory family dinners every night of the week, my curfew which had before been more of a guideline become rigid and moved forward an hour. At first, I did everything I could to still see him despite the new restrictions. However it didn’t take me long to realize how little he cared about whether or not we saw each other. My parents “unfair” restrictions were a minor bummer to him, nothing more. On my own, I realized our relationship was very one sided, and I ended it on my own accord. If my parents had tried to force me to end it, it would taken me much longer to realize he really didn’t care about me, I would’ve been too far wrapped up in the drama. I’m not saying this approach will work for your daughter, but I can assure you deliberately trying to break them up also won’t work.

    Also your daughter is legally an adult now. At the moment she still lives with you and you do get to control what goes on under your roof, but soon she won’t and she gets to make her own choices, choices you may not like. Your job as parents was not to make little clones of your self, but to raise self sufficient individuals grounded with a good moral framework and the ability to make smart choices. What a smart choice is for them may be different than what a smart choice was for you, but if you’ve done your job they will still be smart, kind, independent adults.

    So if your daughter wants to live with her boyfriend, that is her choice. I think it is your right to express to her once that you worry about it and why, and you certainly don’t have to support it financially, but at the end of the day you should respect her adult choices.

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    • Stonegypsy

      Stonegypsy April 28, 2016, 1:04 pm

      I will also say (as someone who also had a loser boyfriend my parents didn’t like when I was 18) that my mom taking similar actions as yours did actually just resulted in me moving out as soon as I was able (and I ended up moving in with said loser boyfriend (who was also an abusive alcoholic, but I didn’t know that at first obviously) because the rent was super cheap and I couldn’t bear to go back to living under such rigid rules). So… that could backfire

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      • avatar

        ele4phant April 28, 2016, 2:17 pm

        That’s true, try this attempt at your own risk.

        And I should clarify, I wasn’t grounded. I was still able to come and go, and see who I wanted, it just became more of a pain as I had to find rides and had more “responsibilities and obligations” at home. My parents never once insinuated that they wanted me to break up with him or that they were specifically doing all this to make it harder to see him, although I guess it was obvious. And it really didn’t take too long for me to figure out that my boyfriend wasn’t nearly interested in making the effort to see me as I was in him. It only took a few times of me getting a window of a few hours to see him, but finding out that some buddy of his decided to do something else across town that sounded fun, and I had no way to get there and he wasn’t really putting in effort to get me there either that I went “Huh, I don’t think we’re on the same page here”. I think my parents clearly saw that he wasn’t that into me, and knew it wouldn’t take long for me to figure that out either.

        If a boyfriend was more willing to play along and keep the fantasy of it being the couple against the world, it’d maybe not be a good idea. Or maybe my parents would’ve switched up tactics after it became clear it wasn’t going to work. Who knows? All I know is it worked with me.

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  • avatar

    K April 28, 2016, 11:26 am

    This really hit home for me, as my mom is very Catholic and disapproves of living together before marriage…and I’m 31. LW, please be loving and non-judgmental towards your daughter. You want to continue to have a good relationship with her, I assume. I love my mom, but I dread talking to her about certain things because of the way she is. Don’t make your daughter feel that way.

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  • avatar

    Chrissy April 28, 2016, 11:32 am

    I got together with my abusive boyfriend when I was 17 and finally left him after 15 years at 32. My parents hated him, even though they did not know the extent of what was happening. Because they were mean to him I sided with him every time, but after a while they said nothing and just supported me.

    In retrospect, they did entirely the right thing. I had to realize the mistake I was making myself. Sadly it took me a long time but when I did, I knew I could go to my parents. If I hadn’t had that, I may not have left him. Unfortunately you need to let her make her own choices.

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  • Portia

    Portia April 28, 2016, 11:35 am

    As a teenager, I was not the rebellious type, but I’m about as stubborn and independent as they come (just ask my husband). You know why I never rebelled? Because my parents never really gave me a reason to. Did they have slightly stricter rules than my friends’ parents? Yes, but when it came down to it, they trusted me and never really tried to take away my freedom or say I couldn’t do something. When I wanted to buy an expensive piece of electronics, they weren’t going to pay for it but encouraged me to save my own money for it. They didn’t like my high school boyfriend, but didn’t tell me that until we broke up. Even when I wanted to get a piercing, my parents made it clear it wasn’t something they liked or would pay for, but that it was ultimately my decision. And my dad sat me down to tell me medically what could go wrong with every type of piercing (be careful with face/lip piercings! I can’t unhear those complications).

    All this to say, LW, Wendy is totally right. You are pushing your daughter straight into her boyfriend’s arms. If you’ve only taught her to defer to others (your family), then that’s what she’ll keep doing, just with someone else. If she figures out on her own that this guy is bad news, she’s not going to come running back to the family that so vehemently disapproved of her life choices that they took away her phone and car. Wherever I’ve seen parents forbid and restrict their children into bending to their will, it’s taken a very long time to rebuild those relationships.

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    • Portia

      Portia April 28, 2016, 11:39 am

      Also, total side note and not very relevant, but I read the LW as her father.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy April 28, 2016, 11:51 am

        For clarification, the LW is the mother. She has a woman’s name and she titled her letter “heartbroken mother.” I should have made that clearer before now, sorry.

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      • Portia

        Portia April 28, 2016, 2:34 pm

        I’m actually glad you didn’t put in that it was a mother vs father – shows that the advice is similar no matter what (and keeps out those who say, But your advice would be different for the other gender!).

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      ktfran April 28, 2016, 12:17 pm

      Portia, it sounds like we had a very similar upbringing. It also sounds like I’m a lot like you. I was the oldest. I played by the few “rules” I had. I fought a little bit for some freedoms my friends had and I didn’t, but I was also a “good kid” who didn’t make too many waves. I was also fiercely independent. I’m happy that my parents were the type to set ground rules but ultimately let me make my own decisions. They didn’t push my sisters and I to pursuit a certain path. They didn’t punish us when we didn’t meet their moral standards. And they always, always let us know they were there for us. Sure, I’ve messed up a few times. But that’s part of growing up.

      FWIW, we’re Catholic and my parents also told us not to have sex or live with someone before we were married. They have since relaxed about that.

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      • Portia

        Portia April 28, 2016, 2:42 pm

        It does sound like we are pretty similar, and I’m the oldest child too! Well, except the Catholic parents – Jewish here. They certainly showed some disappointment and a little guilt (what my Catholic husband and I joke is the common ground of those two religions), but there was no forbidding or restricting of freedoms.

        And yes, messing up is totally a part of life, no matter what your parents do. 😉

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    saneinca April 28, 2016, 11:41 am

    LW, I feel sorry for you. You tried to do the right thing for your daughter and she is trying to hurt you for that. (Yes, I don’t think LW is trying to break up the couple, if that was her intention, she would have done it in the past 2 years)

    As everyone is advising, just back off for the moment. Tell your daughter she must do what she thinks is right for her but not to expect any financial support from you for her lifestyle.

    Don’t worry about your community. They all have children and sooner or later they will face similar situations. They will understand.

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  • avatar

    Ele4phant April 28, 2016, 11:44 am

    Just to play devils advocate in support of the LW, while she doesn’t state where the gossip about the boyfriend comes from, if her daughter has been dating this guy for two years, she probably knows him and has a good sense of what kind of person he his. If he was an outstanding young man whom they adored and were thrilled their daughter was dating him, then they might have been skeptical of him long before then and the gossip finally gave them the explicit “proof” they needed to justify their doubts about him. That’s not to say it’s true, but they’ve clearly seen him interact with their daughter and they aren’t pschyed about the relationship already.

    I mentioned I was in a similar relationship when I was 18, and long before my high school boyfriend left his pipe in my car and my dad found it, they could see that he wasn’t very ambitious, was on the verge of dropping out, and that he wasn’t nearly into me as I was into him.

    So whether or not the specific rumors are try, I’m sure the parents have long since had reasons to not be thrilled that this is the guy their daughter has decided to date.

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  • avatar

    TheShrinkingMrsSmith April 28, 2016, 11:47 am

    I was a bit of a late bloomer, so my rebellion didn’t happen until I was 21-22. My “Strict Catholic” parents hated my first serious boyfriend. I was away at college, met someone who really was a pot smoking loser, but hey, love is blind sometimes. In hindsight, I totally get why my parents hated him, but that didn’t matter then. I wanted to be with him. He moved in with me around 6 months in, and that pissed off my mother to the point that she actually got me evicted from my on campus apartment. She was more concerned with how my relationship made her look than she was my own well being. I ended up moving to New York without telling her, and when we broke up a month later because I was tired of being cheated on, my dad went against her wishes and helped me move home.
    My relationship with my mom has never fully recovered. She only now has started to like my husband (who I dated for 6 years before marriage and she tried to convince me to break up with for the first 5 years). I’ve become a fully functioning self sufficient adult, and I’m now the only devout Christian in my family (my parents are still Catholic, but in name only and are the hypocritical ones that Wendy (and most of the world) dislikes. They gave me crap for getting married at my home Christian church, and not a catholic one, despite the fact that they hadn’t attended mass in over 5 years at that point.
    LW, to summarize and wrap all this up, my main point is you have to you keep loving her, and trust the way you raised her. Don’t push her away. Cut her off financially if you must, but my mother telling me “her give a damn” was broken, cutting me off emotionally, and feeling that she didn’t care has caused a number of issues, and still does over 10 years later. There are other issues, but her constant desire to try controlling me and manipulating me still happens. Just love her. Let her make her the bad choices, but don’t make one yourself.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros April 28, 2016, 12:49 pm

    One thing to keep in mind is that raising a child to be a certain way or do certain things doesn’t equate to them actually being that way or doing those things. Children are not little programmable robots. You can teach them certain values, but when they are adults (and often before), they will select their own values and go off of those. Trying to take away a phone and car of an 18-year-old is like trying to put them in time out. It doesn’t work. She’ll probably just go off and get on his phone plan, etc. If you feel that being an adult and living on her own means that she must pay for her own things, then do that, but don’t try to punish her into making the life choices you want her to make.
    .
    This part is probably not my business, but I think sometimes parents don’t realize what values they are actually instilling in their children. For example, I was a shy kid and my mom really hoped I’d be independent. Well, I ended up moving across the country and never looking back, and do all kinds of stuff that she worries about. Well, be careful what you wish for. I say this because a lot of the Christian families I know put emphasis on putting family above all else, and often that translates into one’s new family — your boyfriend or girlfriend who you believe will become your future spouse. I’m not saying that to snark on Christian families, but when you’re instilling values, you have to think about how they will play out in a person’s overall life — not just when you are wanting them to do things you want them to do.

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  • avatar

    Bittergaymark April 28, 2016, 1:44 pm

    Running away to be with your highschool boyfriend ALWAYS works out just swell — said no one ever.
    .
    The LW is strange to be sure what with all the vague mystery of “it has come to our attention…”
    .
    But her fear and concern rings true to me. Honestly? The daughter sounds like the typical DW letter writer who is SO convinced she has found her “special love” since they guy bothers to occasionally text her back after banging…
    .
    Yeah, that ALWAYS ends well. Just check the DW Forums…

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  • Monkeysmommy

    Monkeysmommy April 28, 2016, 2:02 pm

    I actually don’t agree completely with Wendy here, though I usually do! Maybe it’s because I am a crazy teen parent myself. What I think you did wrong was telling her to pray about it; she is 18 and (presumably) a high school senior. That guilt trip doesn’t work with them. Even though I am sure you meant it, on some level you were attempting the underhanded God guilt.
    *
    I personally wouldn’t be having that shit. Yes, she is 18, but she lives under your roof and is relying on your support. If she wants to move out and go live with this shit head, then that would be her choice and she is welcome to see how that works out with no money and no car. It won’t go far! If she wants to wait til graduation, great! But she wouldn’t be seeing him using MY car, MY phone, or MY money. Let’s see how long he wants to wait around, then. Of course his mom supports the relationship, she is using your kid in hopes of slowing hers down. You need to sit her down and bluntly tell her all this situation is going to end with is a broken heart and probably single motherhood at a very young age- Cuz, you know they are getting it on, even if you don’t “believe in that”.
    *
    And yes, to the others who will shred my response, I would say this to my kid. Hell, I took her phonestly, iPad, and laptop away because she was having inappropriate conversations with boys. Yes she may do it anyway, but it won’t be with my support and help. I am not going to make it easy for her to fuck up. I got pregnant at a young age and moved at 18. I wish my mom had took a firmer stance with me and had tried to get through to me. I finally made it in life, but I made it a hell of a lot harder than it had to be.

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    • Monkeysmommy

      Monkeysmommy April 28, 2016, 2:14 pm

      Phone and ipad… damn autocorrect!

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    • avatar

      Ele4phant April 28, 2016, 3:51 pm

      I kind of a agree here. I’m surprised how many are advising against taking away her access to her phone and car. I mean I think we all agree that it’s pointless to try to ban her from seeing this guy or trying to stop her from moving in with him, but I think parents are well within their rights to revoke access to things they pay for, like her car and phone. I guess if she bought and pays for things herself they can’t, but that’s not true for most kids her age so I’m assuming it’s not true for her either.

      Assuming the relationship is healthy otherwise, temporality limiting or banning access to phones and cars is a reasonable punishment I think. It happened to me as a teenager, and gosh darn it it was effective. But my parents were otherwise loving and supportative, and the punishment I received was never out of proportion, so we had and continue to have good relationships.

      If the parents are overly heavy handed or control freaks, yeah that’ll damage the relationship. But parents should still have some leverage to discipline older kids, and assuming it’s not excessive, I think limiting access to cars, phones, computers is reasonable.

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      • avatar

        Anonymousse April 28, 2016, 9:16 pm

        Taking away those things are honestly just going to push her further into his arms. Mainly, I think, because while you have a good relationship with your parents…it doesn’t sound like she does. Because her mom is meddling in her relationship and trying to get them to break up with her oh so smart manipulation tactics.
        My mom grounded me every time I did something she deemed wrong. No cell phone, no iPad, no car, no tv…poor little anonymousse retreated into her bedroom to idolize rock gods, drug use and bad boys, and as soon as I was free again, I’d double down and do worse than before. If my mother had actually treated me with a smudge of respect and tried an actual conversation and real relationship with me then…we might even be on speaking terms now. But, alas, it so often turns into a power struggle/pissing contest with moms and their supreme power complexes….

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        keyblade April 29, 2016, 7:10 am

        What is she being punished for? Was she rude or disrespectful? Or is it because they disagree with her post-high school plan to move in with her boyfriend? What if the daughter’s plan was to get a job instead of going to college? Would it be reasonable to withhold privileges to thwart off adult plans which the parents don’t support?
        I certainly don’t believe children are owed a car or a phone. But if the goal is to convey to the daughter that she isn’t independent, yet, and she would benefit from additional parental support before she ventures of in the world, I think this is putting the daughter in a position of accepting the support of her boyfriend and his mother. I’m also not entirely sure privileges were revoked to make a point of the daughter’s want for self-sufficiency. I think the might have been revoked to keep the girl isolated and unable to make arrangements to leave.
        But I don’t think it is abusive for a parent to punish and action or teach a lesson by choosing to stop providing a privilege for an ungrateful child. In this case, I think it might not be smart and it might lead to deep resentment for the adult child because it isn’t clear that it is being done kindly or respectfully to the daughter’s autonomy.

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  • Astronomer

    Astronomer April 28, 2016, 2:08 pm

    When I was 15, my mom drove my teenage boyfriend, who was visiting me at our house one night, out to the middle of nowhere and told him to get out and never come back. Kind of like you’d do with a dog you didn’t want anymore, you know, if you were a super-asshole hick. Mortifying. Of course, we dated in secret for another year, and it helped our relationship a lot that I’d been saving money for forever to buy a van the second I turned 16. (I wanted a van to sleep in for the nights when I got thrown out, haha. I had no idea that van would be like make-out central.)

    I moved out as soon as I was legally able to, and have always had a crappy/distant relationship with my mom. I mean, the boyfriend thing is just one thing out of a million things that show what an abusive control freak she was, but it’s the perfect example of how someone with god-awful parenting skills can alienate their kid.

    Now my mom is dying, and I know she wants me to rush to her side and express all the love and devotion that a person should feel when a mother is dying…but I barely care at all. I mean, I do all the stuff I’m supposed to out of a sense of duty, but it feels like such an inconvenience that I wish I’d cut myself off from the family 15 years ago. I’m just kind of waiting for her to die so I can have my life back, which is awful.

    So LW, there’s a lesson to be learned here. Eventually, you’re going to get some kind of terrible cancer or Alzheimer’s and be dying. Do you want your daughter to just go through the motions, do the bare minimum, and be secretly relieved she won’t have to deal with you anymore when you’re gone? Or do you want her to want to spend every moment she can having real quality time with you and listening to your stories because she’s going to miss your love and support? How much are those “Christian family values” worth to you? Consider what you’re trading in the long run.

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  • avatar

    Brise April 28, 2016, 5:04 pm

    You are probably damaging the school progression of your daughter with such an useless drama. So what if the guy is smoking weed and having sex with other girls? This is what a lot of teen guys do. You can’t force your daughter to break up with him. Punish her with phone and car because she doesn’t break up or doesn’t believe a rumor, that seems just unfair and completely overreacted. You had better explain to your daughter that she has to use protection for her own health when she has sex with this boy – and with anybody. This is all what you can do as a mother. All the rest is abusive. And you lost probably a lot of her trust already. Talk with her again and try to rebuild a dialogue: admit that she won’t share necessarily the same values as you (no sex or flat sharing before the marriage), exert tolerance or you will lose her really. Plus, you are damaging her at a fragile age when she needs parents support, for her career and life choices. Be the grown up in this story.
    About this guy: you insult him and his family in acting in such a harsh way, as if he had committed a crime. His mother is protecting first her honor and pride, and she assumes probably that she will rescue your daughter from an abusive family. Slow down with the drama and talk more with these young adults.

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  • avatar

    Adrienne April 28, 2016, 6:40 pm

    Not to go “To Kill a Mockingbird” here, but if everyone could take out the references to Christianity and re-read the letter.

    I feel like everyone is rushing to make parenting judgements about the mom. Here we have a parent who is, in essence saying, I think my child is in a bad relationship. I want to let her make her own decisions (hence no where did she forbid, ect.), but I’m worried that the first person my child should move in with isn’t a significant other. How do I state my case to my child without pushing him or her away.

    Because if I had to guess, this mom used Google. And she found you Wendy.And she probably read through done if your letters, and maybe even some of the comments. But instead of seeing her as a fellow mother who knew she needed help, and gasp, actually asked for it, you spend the majority of your letter basing advice off the fact that she identified herself as Christian.

    Seriously, please rethink the tone of the advice you wrote. To me, it appears that the majority of your advice was based on the meaning of Christian to you, Wendy. No doubt that the writer would feel attacked by this, and miss out on all the good you have to share. I belive it is attitudes like that are why Trump is about to be the GOP nominee. And I am NOT ready for that brave new world. Let’s stop thinking the worst of each other.

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    • avatar

      Ron April 28, 2016, 6:56 pm

      The LW couldn’t be content to say she was Christian, she had to say they were a very Christian family.

      Frankly, I find Cruz a lot scarier than Trump. He also is VERY Christian.

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      • avatar

        Adrienne April 28, 2016, 9:11 pm

        I wasn’t talking about the actual candidate. I was referring to the, what comes off as, visceral and immediate judgment of woman for herself as Christian. Trump supporters are riled up and in arms because they believe that people will judge then negatively because they identify as Christian. They feed off that insecurity and fear, ahs they vote for him.

        I honestly don’t know a whole lot more one should expect from this woman. She doesn’t seem to know what to do, ahs she reached out for help. No where did she say she disowned her daughter, or threw her out. She’s asking for advice, and I feel like that was ignored because she identified her religion.

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      • avatar

        Ron April 28, 2016, 9:25 pm

        The vast majority of this nation is Christian. Simply identifying oneself as a Christian has never been a problem.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy April 29, 2016, 5:17 am

        She most certainly was not ignored. I gave good, thoughtful, reasonable advice.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom April 28, 2016, 7:13 pm

    Think about your strategic goal here, at the very least it would be to keep her from moving in with her boyfriend. Then consider whether your tactics are working to reach that goal. At this point it doesn’t sound like they are so reconsider your tactics.

    I think I’d ask her if she believes there is any truth to him smoking weed and if she believes there is any truth in him having girls over for the night. She will probably say no. Then tell her that you think she is a good judge of people (if you believe this) and you will trust her judgement of the situation. Put her in control of her life. She will be happy in the moment but I think it will also confirm in her mind that you trust her to do the right thing and then if she does find that he is lying to her she will feel more able to break up at that point because she isn’t at war with you and she doesn’t have to prove anything to you. She will also feel more responsible for making good decisions. It will also hopefully prevent her from moving in with him which could leave her feeling trapped if she found he was lying after the point of moving out of your house. She could feel that she couldn’t go back home and feel that she had no where else to go and so was stuck with her decision. I think this will take away her incentive to move out as soon as she finishes school. Ask her to keep her eyes open and to proceed carefully but you’ll support her in her decision to keep seeing him. Basically take away the fight. That will help to keep her under your roof. Sooner or later this relationship will probably blow up and he will be a thing of the past but your relationship with your daughter will remain intact. I’d also ask whoever gave you your information for proof of what they told you. If they had a text where he was inviting a girl over to smoke weed and spend the night it would be solid proof that your daughter should see. Even if you come up with that proof you need to give her the proof and then not make any suggestions about what she should do unless she asks for advice. She will sooner or later reach the point of breaking up with him but it has to be when she reaches that point. If you forbid her to see him she will move away with him.

    Carefully consider your strategic goal and then find the tactics to reach that goal.

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  • avatar

    Anonymousse April 28, 2016, 9:23 pm

    The last line of your letter, “I can’t lose my baby girl to someone like this!”

    You will lose her because you don’t respect her or her own decisions. All you can do is love and support her, and hope she does good. People need to make their own mistakes. Let go. You are not in control of her and her life.

    Butt out of her relationships, get her some birth control.

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  • avatar

    Baccalieu May 1, 2016, 3:08 pm

    Late to the party again, but for what it’s worth, I think Wendy gave excellent advice but I was very taken aback by the suggestion in Wendy’s answer that the LW was concerned about what her friends and neighbours would think. There is absolutely no suggestion in the letter that she is motivated by anything other than concern for her daughter, although as Wendy and others pointed out she was going about expressing it the wrong way. Wendy showed some prejudice here (which unfortunately is a human failing) and it’s too bad because rather than consider Wendy’s sensible advice all the LW is likely to take away is that she was attacked as a hypocrite. The debate over whether it’s reasonable to assume she is an evangelical Christian or not is rather beside the point. Despite the unfortunate undoubted hypocrisy shown by a number of evangelical leaders, evangelical Christian does not equal hypocrite. Even though I am not an evangelical myself I know that to be true and it is a slander to a good many decent people who just happen to hold different views than us.

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