September 24, 2009,
J.F. asks from Vineland, NJ on September 19, 2009
19 Year Old Daughter Trying Tough Love Being a People Pleaser Isn't Easy
My 19 year old I think is very spoiled, hasn't ever taken well to the word "no" and confused over her recent decision to leave her out of state college and attend a community college until she hopefully has in place her new major at another college less distance than the last from home. She wants me to remind her of appointments and dates and when i do gets mad saying all I do is nag her. She constantly says her 2pm curfew is unfair because she had none when she was away at college even though I have explained over and over that its so we can get rest and not to control her. Recently I decided instead of staying on her about following up on her new college applications I would just give her a deadline date a month away so that she could just after report to me its all completed and she found that offensive. I know I spend too much time trying to explain all my rules are in fairness to which she disagrees. We are now at the point we can barely discuss anything let alone be in the same room without some petty disagreement starting. So what do I do to stand firm as a parent and not cave? It seems the second she says her and I have a strained relationship I find myself chasing after her, explaining myself and begging her not to throw ours away which she acts she has no problem doing if she decides she's had enough. Help I'm at wits end!
So What Happened?™
Thanks for everyones thoughts and advise. So here is what happened I went out for the day with a friend to get away from it all. When I got home which was right around dinner time I found her cooking dinner for the two of us. My husband was at work. She was very quiet while preparing it and I thought I'll just go about my business and even if it's a silent dinner it would be hopefully a step in a better direction. After a few bites she started to open up to me where her head is and her concerns about what path she should take with college. She voiced that she does understand our rules and will follow them she just wants to sort out in her mind that this change in college majors is the last and best one for her and that is why she's been so stand off , and upset and impatient with me and rules and everything the past few weeks. That at 19 she doesn't want to tell me every thought in her mind. I explained to her, my short version, a relationship should be opening up not blocking out and that the deadline still stands along with our rules. We sat and talked about her fears of making right choices and ended both glad that we listened to each other. Since then I have been determined to give her some space and mind more of my own business and less of hers which I admit in the past haven't been the best at. So at least for now we have both brushed off the mess and moved on from this episode of mother daughter battles. One side note some of you I think didn't realize she does have a part time job along with her education. And for the advise on the book thanks I plan on going to the library soon to pick it up.
A.W. answers from Philadelphia on September 20, 2009
Well, when I went to college I had to live at home and pay for college myself, pay my car myself, pay my car insurance & gas, which means I also had to hold down a job at the same time as going to college (this was 20 years ago, but still...). My parents helped when they could and obviously I was still allowed to live at home rent free and I was on their health insurance. I didn't have a curfew that was really stated to me but I kind of knew not to stay out all night and worry the heck out of my parents, besides my Dad would have killed me! I agree with all the other posts, you need to tell her to either pay rent and she can do what she wants or to help out around the house and go to school and be a straight "A" student and maybe then no curfew, but still to let you know where she is because it is courteous and respectful to not make you worry. I still call my Mom when I get home from visiting her at her house (and I am 39 years old) I just wouldn't want her to worry :)
B.D. answers from Lancaster on September 21, 2009
It sounds like she knows how to manipulate you very well- give her the deadile to get all the things done she is required to do - give her also the set of rules you have set for curfew, etc. If she doesn't like it, tell her tough - it is your house, your rules - her staying there (as an adult!) should not be a strain on you, and she should act like an adult and treat you and your household with respect.
B.C. answers from Philadelphia on September 21, 2009
I'm going through the exact same thing with my nineteen year old. You got to get tough. She went away for one year and then came back. We told her when she came back that what our rules were, we have younger children in the house and it isn't fair to them or us if she comes home late (we had a twelve o'clock curfew). We told her that she could either live with it or move out. She picked moved out (she moved in with her cousin and her family), which broke my heart, we were always very close until around 17 and she got a boyfriend we hated. Right now I am paying for college but nothing else and she is learning the hard way. But in the last month our relationship has gotten much better. I treat her like an adult and she is learning what that truly means. My sixteen year old daughter has learned a lot too, she says she does not want to go down that route. lol. Stay tough, let yourself cry when you alone and need too, and hopefully things will work out. Remember she is an adult now and the hardest thing is letting go but that is the only way she is going to become an true adult herself. Best of luck.
D.S. answers from Allentown on September 20, 2009
Momma, Momma, Momma. Go to Co-Dependence Anonymous as fast as you can go.
Hope this helps. It is so difficult to be a parent of an adult child. We all go through it. Good luck. D.
B.K. answers from Pittsburgh on September 21, 2009
Hi J., Sounds like you are in a bit of a tough spot. You need to explain to your daughter that she is over 18 yrs old and is an adult and she needs to start conducting herself like one....or she can step out on her own! Sure give her a time frame, tell her to get a job (at least part-time) tell her that as long as she lives in your home she has to follow the house rules no matter how old she is! My oldest is 17 and will be graduating from school this year and we are already discussing the rules and expectations that will be in effect after she turns 18 and graduates. I'm hoping by having these discussions now I can avoid some fighting later. You need to sit down and talk to her when you are both at least somewhat calm...set your rules, keep them simple, and then follow through with them. If she doesn't want you to "nag" then she has to be responsible. If she doesn't want a "curfew" then she need to respect you and come home at a reasonable time. Once you both work through your rules then let the past be the past...start over fresh and don't discuss past "bad" behavior. One thing about us "girls" that we all need to work on is that we tend to hold gruges forever; something that men don't seem to do...and we need to do much less of. Remember in the middle of it all the goal is for her to be a strong independant woman. Hang in there, stay strong and good luck!
D.P. answers from Pittsburgh on September 21, 2009
My two cents.
SHE decided to leave her live-away college and return home. I don;t care WHO is paying for college, if she is living in your house, she needs to understand and follow your rules. She has no right to negotiate or challenge your rules for your house.
Write down the rules and give her a copy. I feel that, even at 19, if she breaks the rules, she needs a negative consequence.
I have a friend with a teen son and if he is not home by his curfew, the doors are locked and the lights are out. Harsh, but it works.
Look, your relationship with your daughter has most likely has had other tough spots before. It will survive this. My mom and I always got along better when I didn't live under her roof. When I came home from college, b/c I had transferred to a closer university to save money, I worked every day that I was not in class, I had to help out around the house, I had a curfew. I worked, paid my tuition, books, transportation (BUS!) etc.
You need to establish exactly what is expected (who pays for what, chores, curfew) and communicate it to her. If she does not like it, she is welcome to get her own place. Tough stuff, this "adult" life. She needs to get used to it sooner than later. I have a brother who STILL foots the cell phone bills for his kids, now in their late 20's. Hang tough and stick to YOUR rules. If you don't, you can't really complain about her behavior.
M.R. answers from Allentown on September 21, 2009
Unfortunately it is a slippery slope that we walk as parents taking care versus enabling. You have to set boundaries and stand firm she is playing you and your emotions because she can. The reality is that she for all practical purposes is an adult. She just needs to start acting like one. Unfortunately you have to let her fall down and make mistakes while she is still young enough to recovery from them. I hope she is paying for school herself so that she can own her success but by the same token pay for her own mistakes. Trust me I watched my mother rescue my sister for years and until about 5 years ago was helping her raise and support her 2 children. Then because of a couple of moves and having multiple mortgages on several properties she was not able to help. That is when my sister started standing on her own 2 feet. She is now 30+ and could have been much more successful if my mother had done this only 5 years earlier for her. She is struggling as a single parent but she is owning her own success and believe me she is earning her own success.
T.D. answers from Philadelphia on September 20, 2009
I'm assuming that like most young people she has a cell phone and keeps it close at hand. It should have a calendar/ alarm function. She can put the Appointments/meetings in the calendar and set an alarm to go off at a certain time before hand. I usually have it go off the day before and then reset it to go off about 1/2 hour before I need to leave for the
As for the curfew issue, let her know that your main concern is her safety and that you want to know she's ok. If she will be out all night staying at a friends that it will be ok but she should call you a a reasonable hour so you can rest peacefully. If her plans change later and she decides to stay (This is better than driving when too tired) she should still call. It is much better to wake up for a minute to answer the phone and go back to sleep, than sit up worrying about her.
Let her know that you will love her no matter what, and that it is the choices she has made the worry and disappoint you, not her. She may also need to take time off from school and work for a while to really appreciate the benefits of an education. If things are strained at home, Is there a relative that she is close to, who might be able to let her move in for a while and give guidance without the conflicts that you have at home. Kids usually behave better with someone else. Also have limits set ahead of time with the understanding that if she does not follow the rules, she will be asked too leave and go back home.