18 Year Old Daughter Moved Out Yesterday...DEVASTATED!

Updated on October 16, 2014
A.W. asks from Atlanta, GA
17 answers

New to this forum. My 18 year old daughter moved out of our house yesterday, unexpectedly, and in with her boyfriend, whom we don't like, at all. He's 18 and a high school dropout. They've been dating for over a year. Since she met him, our family has been in constant turmoil. They've broken rules over and over, again. At this point, we don't trust either one of them. He's controlling, manipulative, and verbally abusive. We have tried to get her to see the light, but she turned 18 on Saturday and wants to do her own thing, rather than abide by our rules. So, she packed up yesterday and went on her merry way, against my pleading with her to stay. She showed absolutely no emotion when she left. Said it was only going to be for 2 days, yet she took everything but the kitchen sink. I'm just sick. Our family dynamics are so different. Where do I go from here? I'm so lost!

What can I do next?

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answers from Washington DC on


Welcome to mamapedia!!

You made him taboo the minute you started dogging him - so that made him more enticing....you can't go back now.

If she took items that were not hers? Time for tough love. Call the police and file a theft report.

She's a legal adult now. You can't "control" her anymore. You can be there for her when it blows up in her face. Do NOT say "I told you so" or "I warned you" - be there for her.

Where do you go from here? You try to mend fences. You support her without being demanding. TRY to find good in him. The minute you start liking him??? He will lose his bright, shiny colors and she will start waking up. It's reverse psychology.

However, if she did take things that were not hers - you ask for them back - if she refuses, tell her you have no other choice but to file a police report for theft.

Welcome and good luck!

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Houston on

You made him exotic when you started dogging him. I know, I did it as well. It is hard when you don't like the boyfriend but you have to step back. This barn door is already open, hard to close it now.

Tough love. Whatever bills you pay for shut them off. phone, insurance and if she has a car and it isn't hers, go get it.

When a child wants to act like an adult, you treat them like an adult. If she took items that she did not pay for, ask for them back.

Tell her you love her and you are giving her what she wants. Let her know that the door is always open for her to return.

Also, I would check with the school to make sure she is still enrolled if she is a senior.

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

When you make it clear you do not like the person your child is in love with, you are making your child choose. She made her choice.

I completely understand he is probably no good, but this is HER choice and she will need to deal with the consequences.

I suggest you change the locks as suggested,. You also stop payment on anything you pay for her and then you text her and let her know she is welcome home at any time, but you and she will need to attend counseling together and she will need to follow your house rules. You want her to get counseling for herself. and if she comes home she will need to start paying some of the bills.

The main thing is that you want her to at least graduate from High School.

Stay strong. She is totally testing you. She will sink or she will float. But she cannot come home until the 2 of you sit down and come up with her rules and behaviors to live in YOUR home from now on.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

never a good idea to create a romeo-and-juliet scenario by forbidding the boyfriend. sometimes you just need to keep your enemy close.
that ship has sailed, however. all you can do now is to keep your boundaries firm and your door and your heart open.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I know this is so hard. I have a stepdaughter who has made terrible choices and it's so painful.

Here's the thing though. If you make it clear that you don't like the guy, you drive her to him. So back off on that. If you don't, it will make it impossible for her to come home to you if this all goes south. You MUST be a soft place to fall, a welcoming place if she changes her mind.

So you do the hardest thing: you put a smile on your face, you act like you have raised her to be sensible and sure of herself, and you admit to her that she is 18 and can do what she wants. You tell her that you support her. You tell her that you've thought over your position and you think you have been too judgmental and (dare I say?) controlling (knowing full well that your issue with this guy is that he is controlling. You say nothing about his education - there are other people who have not graduated high school. If he has a good job, that's what matters now. You understand that baby birds need to leave the nest even if their flying is not so smooth.

Next you offer things you don't care if you don't get back - a frying pan, some leftover tupperware, a few towels, whatever.

Then you get your name off every bill that she has, and your put in a forwarding order at the post office for her mail, all of it. Every car and medical insurance bill, everything. You give the new address info to AAA, the cell phone carrier, the school if she is still in high school, everything. No exceptions. She's 18, she's an adult, she wants to handle it all. Great.

You have your house rules and those stay, so she doesn't come to stay overnight or mooch off the meal schedule, or anything else. You can meet her for lunch someplace (split the bill) or meet at the movies - anything to keep the lines of communication open. You stay off the subject of her boyfriend but if she brings something up, you don't criticize. You say stuff like "Tell me more" or "How is that going for you?".

If things fall apart because he is abusive, you just ask her how it makes her feel when he says that stuff. You don't judge, you don't say, "Just leave. What's wrong with you?" And you don't say "I told you so." No matter how many times you did. You just keep telling her that she is a smart woman and she will make decisions that are best for her.

If she can't afford her life, you don't give her money. You say what every other person does in that situation: "So sorry you are having difficulties." If he is so controlling and doesn't let her do stuff with her friends (or her family, for that matter), you say, "Gee, you used to be so close with Natalie and Georgette. Do you miss them?" Your remind her that she is smart and capable and that she will find a solution. You say she's an adult now, as she has convinced you, and you are staying out of it.

If it's really desperate and she wants to come home, you pause. You say, "Well, that didn't really work out for you in the past. How would this be different?" And you don't make a decision. If she's in danger, she goes to a shelter. That will be the hardest thing you will ever do. But she will get help and objective guidance from trained professionals. You cannot have a dangerous man in your house - which is the first place he will look for her. You must keep her safe, and that means going into a concealed location. You haven't said that he's violent but he shows so many other signs of being an abuser, I lay it out there for consideration.

You have to let go. This is really hard but it's really important. She has to see her life with this man for what it is. She said she is going for a few days but she took everything with her so you both have to call it what it is - she has moved out, and moved on. Her room is not hers anymore. I'd go ahead and clean it out or repaint it or make it into a sewing room or a guest room or a craft area. Anything so you are not looking at what once was. It also lets her know, if she should ever come back, that you assumed her moving out was the real deal and you weren't kidding about it. You took her at her word, you accepted her decision whether you liked it or not, and you accepted that she is an adult and in charge of her own life.

Finally, if you need more help, get some short term counseling for yourself or for the family. But you absolutely must give up on the idea that anything you do now can convince her that she's a child who must listen to her mother. That will only backfire. The only hope for her now is real life. She wants it? She's going to get it.

If you are lucky, she will quickly see that this new life is not so ideal, and that maybe her mom knows a thing or two. But you absolutely must work to be the kind of person she can come to without shame or humiliation if she has to admit it's not working for her.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Huntington on

I am sorry to hear that. I am sure that this is really an emotional time for you.

I did the same thing when I was 18. I moved out and did not even tell anyone I was leaving; I left a note while my family was at an amusement park. It was such a crappy thing to do! The positive part is that it all turned out fine. I needed space and I wanted to "be an adult", and that is what I got. My parents were sad at my choices - I was living with a boyfriend, and he was a real loser - in fact he was a drug dealer - but they tried their best to be kind and to compliment me where possible (I am sure it was dang hard!). When things got bad, they helped me without enabling... for example, they were firm in that they would not be giving us money. However, at one point they did buy me groceries when I was flat broke, and they did help me move out when it really hit the fan.

I am grateful that they were kind and did not diss my decisions or rub the bad choices in my face. They simply let me be an adult (a young one!) and learn from my choices. They were there when I needed them.

I am now a very responsible, successful adult, with a wonderful husband and 3 children.

I hope she figures things out soon. Give her time and be there for her, without being pushy. 18 is a hard age. I am sure it will all turn out fine in the end.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I received a text from my daughter last night on her BF's cell...said she loved me and I said the same in reply. Texted me, again, this morning and told he she was at school. Praise be! What I'm really struggling with right now is that I have no idea where she is. I thought they were moving in with his parents, but then I looked on the criminal trespass warning form the officer filled out and looks like they're living in another down about 25 miles away. I know what a lot of you are saying abou my being nice to her BF and asking my daughter about him and all. However, you simply don't understand all that he has put our family through for over a year. It's been horrible. So, it's next to impossible for me to "act" as though I give him the stamp of approval. I love my daughter with all my heart and soul. Yes, my door has to remain open for her because I want to be that soft place she can fall. I will love her through this bump in the road and help her in any way I can. However, if she comes home, she must abide by our rules and I don't think her BF can be a part of that.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Change the locks.
Seek some counseling.

Look - you are not going to feel good for awhile.
You raised your daughter as far as you could.
Any other growing up she needs to do she's going to have to get there on her own.
As for helping her - send her an occasional bag of groceries - no cash - ever.
As for 'our door is always open to you' - think about that carefully.
Do you want her bouncing in and out of your house like it's a flop house or motel?
Possibly with grand kids?
Unfortunately women who make bad decisions about men often make the same mistakes over and over again before they wake up and start doing things differently.
She's only controlled as much as she's letting the boyfriend control her.

If she ever wants to come back - it has GOT to be on your terms.
You draw up a renters agreement spelling out the conditions under which she may stay - how long she will stay (this should never be open ended) - and what behaviors will get her evicted.
Everyone signs it and you get it notarized.
Have it expire and renegotiated every 6 months.

My Mom went through this with my sister and it was very h*** o* Mom.
You keep going to counseling and do your best to get over any guilt you are feeling.
Do not allow yourself to be manipulated - your daughter may try it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I know your heart is breaking, this was your little baby girl you held in your arms when she was born, but she grew up momma. She's at a place in her life where the two of you don't see eye to eye, and with your years of wisdom you can see more clearly than she can. You wrote how she's broken all your rules and doesn't listen. I'm sure this boy isn't good for her, but she cannot see it right now. As much as it hurts, you have to let her fall down and grow up. It may take years and lots of tears shed before she realizes what she did. You need to make firm boundaries and it will be hard. She made her mind up that she wanted to move out, and did. I know you want her to live with you and finish high school. But it has to be under your rules, your boundaries. She will not like it, and may never move back in, but she will respect it later.
Don't ever stop telling her you love her, don't ever stop praying for her, but please make firm boundaries. This is could tough love, and it's tough on both sides.
I'm praying for you, be strong and you will get through this.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

So far you've done well from what I'm seeing below. You are showing her that when you make grown up decisions you also accept the grown up responsibilities that go with them. Stay very strong and stand by your house rules. She knows that she's loved and valued in your life so now its up to her to figure out the next step.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Doxie, don't you just love this site with all the smart mama's who take the time to write thoughtful, insightful helpful answers???

You have been given some outstanding advice already...I thought about your post while driving the kids around town this evening, to and fro, the usual routine after school pick up, dinner, home work etc....

What stands out in your writing style to me is that I wonder if you have smothered your daughter with too much? For instance, making her breakfast every day? Buying her a $17K car to drive around in??? She sounds ungrateful towards all that you have freely given her.

Where were you when your Language Arts class read and dissected Romeo and Juliet??? Did you miss that theme of forbidden love makes the heart yearn more? Especially during the dramatic, emotional teen years.

I highly recommend you pick up the book Parenting with Love and Logic, although it's too late to instigate many of the boundaries nicely spelled out for us.

Honestly, your own terminology is a bit dramatic: you're pleading, she took everything but the kitchen sink, I'm just sick....these are over the top, unrealistic comments that do more harm than good. They are not honest and descriptive, just dramatic. Have you always spoken in such grand terms to her?

I'm glad to read you are seeing a therapist and I hope you continue with that course and you learn how to communicate with love and logic, and not threats and drama.

Have you heard of the mantra: Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer? To a certain extent it was foolish to openly dislike the boyfriend to this extreme level. I saw my daughter's first boyfriends as boy toys, as practice sessions, as learning to figure out what's messed up and what's not, what works and what doesn't, does he respect her or doesn't he, and I would gently ask those open ended questions during the dating years. It's called planting a seed for thoughts to grow and mature and she can come to terms in her own time with what's wrong with him.

The situation is in crisis mode for now. It will settle down as the other moms have intimated. Keep your heart and door open. Stop being extremely judgemental and help guide her thoughts into thinking long term about her future.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I'm sorry, it's really hard to see your kids struggle and make potentially poor choices.

But most of us parents have to endure some discomfort and misery as we watch our kids learn and grow. All I can tell you from experience is that in hindsight this will probably not be as terrible as it currently feels.

There really are worse things than an 18 year old girl moving in with her bf, and it's common for an 18 year old girl to disregard you, especially when she knows you don't approve of what she's doing. It's sadly common for family dynamics to go through some turmoil in a kid's late teens and 20's as they discover their independence and figure out who they are.

This too shall probably pass. Hugs. I love Galwaygirl's advice.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

Do you have "Power of a praying parent for adult children"? You can order online or pick it up at a bookstore. I think it might help you with what you are going through right now...


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

Only for 2 days? No way. Either you live here or you don't. You want to move out, move out. When you do, all financial support from me stops. You want to live on your own, you pay your own way.
You want to live with me, you follow my house rules.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

I agree with B from Chesapeake about "the door is always open policy" and it not being such a good idea. I would use some tough love with this girl and not be so ready to keep in too much contact with her at least right now. Let her wonder. I've been down this road and that didn't work in my situation with our daughter at all.

You have to let her go and let her make her mistakes - as hard as it is for you. There is really nothing you can do as this point but wait and pray. All of your earnest and sincere trying will not work at least for now- she is way deep into this guy at this juncture that she left her home for him and he trumps all your efforts right now.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

She's an adult and as hard as it is, she's made her decisions. I'd let her know you still love her and she can come home any time.

In my experience many parents still try to control their kids once they reach this age. I was an adult with a child and lost everything, even my furniture. I moved in with my mom until I could save enough to get an apartment again. She would lock me out at 10pm.

Now I worked until 9pm then had to go pick up my child from child care. I was always coming in almost right at 10pm every night. It was much easier to just sleep in my car many times instead of speeding down a 40mph road going 50 or 55 just to get inside her house by 10pm. Then she'd yell and scream at me for days for not calling to let her know I wouldn't be coming in....I was locked out, of course I wasn't coming in. She wouldn't let me have a house key either. She slept on the couch and it disturbed her if the front door was opened after she went to bed at 10pm.

So I choose to go the easy route and not stay there. I lived with friends, stayed in a woman's shelter, even thought about begging my ex to take me back just so I could have a nights rest without stressing out.

One thing that I think now, after raising a daughter and now raising grand kids is that if I do my job and teach the kids how to make decisions, wrong and right ones, then they are ready to make decisions when they are 10, 15, and age 18. Hopefully they'll make good ones and stay at home to finish school but in our world where there are 18 and 19 year old seniors because their parents held them back I think we're going to see more and more and more kids moving out and dropping out of school over all.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

Unfortunately, you have no say anymore. I'm sorry. She is making her own choices and any interference from you will only drive her closer to him. Hang tough. Text her and let her know you love her. I know it's painful but this is basically out of your hands. Laurie A. has some great advice below. Stay strong!

1 mom found this helpful
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