18Yr Old Daughter Is Pushing the Limits and Manipulating Me.

Updated on July 17, 2014
K.G. asks from Osseo, MN
23 answers

Our 18yr old daughter is living with us and making our life very difficult. She is acting like many her age in that she wants to live by her own set of rules, not ours. She just graduated, well almost, from high school. She is two quarters short on Phy Ed so she hasn't officially graduated yet. We had her enrolled in summerschool to make up the credits and she was all set to go away to college this fall. A few days ago, it came out that she has been blowing off summerschool and therefore she will not graduate on time to go to college. She is saying that she wants to defer college for a year and work. Her plan is to take the classes on-line this fall. In the mean time, she is resisting any kind of curfew and house rules. We currently pay for her cell phone and car insurance. We also provide her with a car. She is currently working about 25 hrs a week. So far it seems pretty typical for a rebellious 18yr old, but there is a kicker: She is struggling with depression and anxiety. She is completely resistant to get proffessional help as she claims it doesn't do her any good. I don't believe that she consistantly takes her medications, which further contributes to her dispair.

We are at the point now where we need to sit her down and take a stand on the house rules. The problem that I have (as the weak parent of the two of us) is that when push has come to shove with her in the past, she uses the "I don't want to live" mantra to manipulate the situation, so we don't come down hard on her. She feels that her best therapy is to spend as much time as possible staying busy with her friends. And I admit, I've been soft because I feel like I don't have to worry so much if she is keeping busy. Most of me believes that she is manipulating us, but there is a part of me that fears she may attempt suicide if we come down too hard. I'm so tired of living in fear of parenting my child. Any advice would be appreciated!

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answers from Chicago on

Next time she threatens suicide call the police.

If it is valid you ALL will get the help you need to deal with this situation.

If it is not valid she will have to deal with the consequences of using that phrase to manipulate others.

She is an adult. Time to let her see what it is like to be one.

If treatment is recommended let her know you will only continue to pay for her car, phone etc. while she stays AND participates in treatment, like at least six consecutive months of treatment and has met discharge criteria per her therapist.

Best of luck to you!

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

If she wants to make her own rules, she needs to get her own place and pay her own bills.
At 18, she is old enough to understand the importance of taking her meds. If she doesn't take them, the results are on her.

9 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

Talk to her doc. He can't tell you anything but you can be of great help to him and in turn, to her.

She has a mental illness. If you don't deal with giving her boundaries, she will always have it. Call the police when she threatens self harm.

Charge her rent. Save that money for her for 6 months, then it's time to move and give her that money only for the deposit and rent.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think you've gotten good advice and that the best piece of advice is for you and your husband to get a therapist to help you best parent an adult child who has mental health issues, which is different from everyday parenting.

If she threatens suicide, call the police and let the chips fall where they may. It's either an actual emergency that warrants immediate treatment, or a bluff. She'll either get necessary emergency treatment or a wake-up call that serious threats get a serious response. My son's ex-girlfriend (17) has mental health issues and she played the suicidal card when getting in trouble for sneaking out with my son so her mom took her seriously and got her committed into a 10 day residential program. Whether or not she was bluffing is unknown but the program was good for her and got her back on the path of treating her issues.

You're in a really tough spot, but you are in good company and there is lots of professional help out there for you and your husband to learn how to best handle these issues. Best of luck to you!

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to mamapedia!!

She's legally an adult. You did your job. She wants to live on her own? Help her pack her bags. She made these decisions to skip summer school..let her find out who will hire her without her high school diploma or even a GED,....

I'm sorry she's struggling with depression. You can't hold her hand forever, I know it sounds mean, cruel and heartless, it's not meant to be. She might be using it to manipulate you as well. At some point in her life she's going to have to suffer the consequences for her actions and decisions..... she is free to make any decision she wants, she is NOT free of the consequences of those decisions.

Stop living in fear. Your gut is telling you that's she manipulating you. Stop allowing her to manipulate you..

Sit her down, tell her to bring the following:

Then tell her to find a place to live. Find out what it entails to live on her own. Rent, deposit, utilities. Not to mention furnishing the place...

Then she needs to look for a job. Find out WHO will hire her with no diploma and how much it will pay her for her lack of experience.

Then sit down and tell her you will no longer pay for her car, cell phone or insurance. She needs to find out how much that will cost.

If she finds she cannot afford to live on her own, then she will have to live by YOUR RULES... MY HOUSE. MY RULES. Don't like it? Move out. And stand firm. That's the hard part. If she's going to stay at your home, she can pay rent. She's legally an adult.

IF your doctor is truly suicidal? She needs to be checked into a mental facility. Period. You are not equipped to help her. I'm sorry to say that, but unless you are a trained mental health professional? You can't help her out of her depression. You can't love her out of it either. She needs professional help.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I can tell you what *I* would do, how I grew up (mom's house, mom's rules, want to say you are an adult? Get a job, save up, move out). The fact of the matter is, until you get help for YOU to parent your kid through his, it doesn't matter what I tell you to do.

You have to find your own reasons and the will enough to make the decisions and boundaries which need to be made. Frankly, over the internet, having never experienced your daughter, I cannot begin to say which behavior stems from what circumstance, etc. And for me to tell you to do XYZ -- if your heart isn't in it, you are eventually going to doubt yourself and this will likely cause more drama.

It might be time for you and your husband to talk to someone, and then to figure out a plan which both of you can live with-- together-- and stick with it.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

If she's doing nothing else (but partying and hanging out) there's no reason she can't work full time (40+ hours a week).
She HAD a chance to get a diploma and she blew it.
Now she'll fiddle around about finishing it and putting college further and further off.
I'd take that choice off the table for now - she's not showing any indication that she's serious about college.
If/when she IS ready for college - offer to pay after the fact depending on her grades - you'll pay in full for A's and lesser amounts for lesser grades - that gives her incentive to actually do the work.
I'd also tell her that since she wants her freedom and her own rules - she needs to move out.
She can rent a room or go in with room mates and rent an apartment.
Her bills, her phone, her car (and expenses) will be her problems.
The only offer of help I'd make is buying her an occasional bag of groceries.
IF after living on her own for awhile she wants to move back home - make sure the offer is only available ONCE and write out a contract about what rent she will pay you, what her chores and rules will be.
She wants to be an adult? Fine.
She can be responsible for herself completely and totally.
Wish her well but she needs to be out of the nest.
My Mom had to evict my sister at 19 for pretty much the same nonsense.
It was very hard on Mom - but it was the best thing for the situation.

I lived at home and attended/finished college till I was 24.
I was an adult and working 2 jobs (work study jobs on campus during college) but it was my Mom's house and she had work and coming and going at all hours and disturbing her sleep is not something I ever did.
I cleaned the bathrooms, cut the lawn, raked leaves - this was before cell phones so notes on the fridge was our message center.
Sometimes she WANTED me out from home (I've always been a home-body) but I was scrupulous with helping and following her rules and being considerate.
When I left it was when I got my first professional job in my field out of state and I moved into an apartment with a roommate.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Deferring school for a year may not be such a bad idea. A real world experience could give her some perspective, and if she's blowing off sumer school she likely won't take college very seriously either.

I know this sounds like terrible advice but I think you should ask her to spend a day with you just doing whatever it is you like to do, with no agenda. Then maybe repeat that again. Eventually (very soon) you will have to have all those tough conversations about rent, bills, responsibility, etc., but if you can repair your relationship with her a bit before you broach any of that you might fair quite a bit better.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

My kids paid for their own college... they got loans and scholarships, and they also worked. My oldest now has a job at $80,000 + ... (I have no idea how much...)

Yes, it was hard work on her part.

While they were in college, we supplied their health insurance, car insurance, and provided a car. We also got them cell phones on our plan.

She isn't going to school? Time for her to get a full-time job and pay for her own expenses. Whether or not she pays you a supplemental rent, that is up to you. Some people charge a nominal rent, but put that in a separate savings account. When that child moves out, they give them those funds as a "nest egg" ......

I see nothing wrong with adult kids coming home to live for short periods of time... however, they should be paying their own expenses, helping around the house, and contributing to the household.

A curfew? Well, she hasn't graduated from high school yet, so maybe that is still appropriate, or at least the consideration to not disturb you when she comes in, and to also let you know where she will be and when she will be back.

Her "I don't want to live" mantra? Call her bluff and call the police and get her admitted for an involuntary 3-4 day hold while she gets a proper evaluation.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I won't speak to the depression and anxiety, because I haven't experienced that in my children and that would make it difficult for me to come down hard on my child, as well.

However, I do think that after 18, it is reasonable to allow them to come and go as they please. She is now technically an adult, after all. If she were off at school or off living with roommates she wouldn't have a curfew, so I don't see why she needs one at 18.

If the reason you want her to have a curfew is that you worry about her, ask her to text you occasionally. However, when my daughter was living with me at 18 I cut the cord, other than expecting some help around the house and general politeness. I worried occasionally, but I got used to it. (She was just doing young person socializing, nothing nefarious.)

I think it's time to stop with the curfew, she's too old. As far as other house rules go, I think it's reasonable to expect her to act like a contributing member of the house.

I don't see anything wrong with her deferring school a year, as long as she's working.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I suggest a therapist for you, to help you work through parenting a child with mental illness. Just because she won't get help doesn't mean that you can't.

I know the advice I would give if she didn't have mental illness: If she wants to make her own rules, she can get a full time job, pay for her own cell phone, take over the car insurance payments, do her own laundry, and pay you at least a nominal amount of rent. In exchange, she doesn't have to have a curfew anymore.

But again, how you go about this when your child has a mental illness is something you should do in consultation with a professional.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I have a daughter with medical diagnoses, and also anxiety and depression. From time to time we have had issues with medication, and her wanting to give up. I do understand: you want your child to be successful, but you're afraid of pushing someone who says she doesn't want to live anymore and who is not taking her prescribed medications properly, but you're frustrated that she seems to want to socialize and not fulfill her basic responsibilities (sticking to your house rules, education, paying for cell phones and car expenses). Did I sum that up pretty well?

My situation is similar except for the socialization part - my daughter would prefer to hide from the world, but in many ways it's the same.

What has helped is having us both talk to a counselor who is familiar with teens/young adults and medical issues. I was able to tell the counselor what I expect, and she was able to let my daughter say what she expected, and the counselor was able to help us both see the other's point of view, hold my daughter accountable (with meds and responsibilities). She helped me learn how to talk to someone who wants to not live any longer, and how to respond, and helped my daughter deal with her depression and her sadness over her illnesses.

I would really encourage you to call a therapist in your insurance plan, or speak to your insurer for a recommendation, or speak to the doctor who prescribes her medications, or start googling psychologists in your area who deal with teens.. It's true, she's 18 and your child's doctor can't talk to you without her permission, but you can indicate to the nurse that your daughter is not taking her meds and is depressed to a serious extent. Even without talking about your daughter's problem specifically, you should be able to get a referral or recommendation to a counselor who deals with anxious/depressed teens or young adults.

Just laying down the law as you would with a physically and mentally healthy teen is not going to be enough. This is different ground. Having an impartial, experienced, professional counselor on board was a life saver.

Even if your daughter refuses to go, you should go. And maybe your daughter will go if you tell her this is about you, that you're not sure if you're being the best mom you can, and you'd like some clarity so that you're not asking too much of her. Yeah, it might be stretching the truth a little, but you need to get her in to talk with someone who's a pro.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Of course she's depressed. She can't graduate high school and she can't go to college because of it. She can't get much of a job without an education, and she doesn't have to get a job because her parents are funding everything, both essential and non-essential.

You are using her fears and her threats as justification for not doing the hard work of parenting. You let her get away with it because it's easier for you. And by "you" I mean both you and your husband. He might talk a tougher game but he's not following through either. You are letting your fear of her following through on her suicide threat be your rationale for letting her party with her friends.

She doesn't want to go to therapy because it's WORK. You have to look at your shortcomings there and be honest, and she doesn't want to. Unfortunately, you and your husband are the same way. It's harder to do that, and it's easier to just keep going as you all have been.

Is it fair to assume that you pay her bills, and her wages from 25 hours a week go to pay for her fun?

You need some help getting a backbone and recognizing that you and your husband are handicapping her. Your babying of her is actually contributing to her depression, not solving it. So get some family counseling, and set a firm timetable. That can include a 30 day notice, after which you cancel her cell phone (which she doesn't need except for friends), pack up her belongings and put them in a storage unit (you put it in her name and maybe pay the first 1-2 months and let her know that they will auction off her stuff if she defaults on further bills), you transfer the car insurance bill into her name, you change the locks and take her key, and you don't deal with any screaming or lamenting. But you only do this if you plan to follow through, otherwise it will set you back and you'll apologize by paying even more bills.

She is perfectly capable of living with these terrific friends or getting a furnished room, she is perfectly capable of getting a second job, and she is perfectly capable of getting help for her depression. Anesthetizing her pain with parties (and alcohol? pot?) isn't helping herself. If she says she can't move in with friends and impose on their parents, then she knows it's wrong!

I would not pay one dime for college - she has not shown that she will attend, and doing on line courses has even fewer checks and balances than attending classes in person. She has not shown that she will do anything at all that she doesn't want to. You can certainly take a page from her book and say you aren't going to do anything you don't want to either, including crippling her for life.

If everyone is an adult here, then everyone can undertake adult responsibilities as well as adult pleasures and privileges. The first step is for you and your husband to take that position and believe it. Until you do, this situation will continue.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

At 18 she is considered an adult. Your obligation to provide for her ended especially since she did not complete the summer school to graduate and go to college. She is now on her own to find a 40 hour a week job to provide for her needs. The cell phone, car insurance and possible health insurance are on her.

You want to be the adult? Then this is how it is done. If she pulls the suicide card, then call the police and have her committed. Time to take off the white gloves and put on the boxing gloves. You cannot control her. You have taught her all you can to prepare her to be an adult. Time to move on and do your own thing and let her do hers outside of your house.

I like the deal of the contract if she should move back.

My son decided to move out at 18 or 19 with some friends. Hubby went into his bedroom and dismantled things and put them up and away so that I could have my sewing room back. We went out to do errands and there was a note taped to the TV asking us if he could come back home to live. We agreed that he could come back but he had to do x, y, and z. He decided he would join the military and then the day or so before he was to go he didn't want to go. I guess it was second thoughts or such but I had prepared myself for his departure. I told him in no uncertain terms that this was the day he was leaving the house and I did not care where he went but he was leaving here. Daughter informed me that I put him out. It only took me a year to realize I did. BUT the thing was I was tired of his shenanigans and such and was ready for a change and quiet in the house.

So do what you must and know that you do it out of love. It might be hard in the beginning but it will get better. Don't let her hold you hostage because she doesn't want to do something. She is a big girl now, now it is up to her how her life turns out. Should she consider college later down the line and is really serious I might consider paying for a semester or two on occasion.

Good luck to you.

the other S.

PS My son thanked me for all that I did for him the day he got married. it took a while but it did happen. So there is hope for you in the future.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

You have GOT to put your fears aside and parent that child. And at this point, tough love is in order.

If I were you, I would sit her down and lay down the law. There will be a curfew, she MUST work FULL TIME and she MUST pay for her own transportation costs (car, gas and insurance). If she chooses not to take her meds, nothing you can do about that.

If she breaks these rules, then you need to lock her out. She will definitely get it when she comes home and can't get into the house. She will have no recourse - you are not legally obligated to let her in. She can sleep in her car. In fact, I would put a note on the door advising her to do just that so she can get used to it because without a diploma, she probably won't get a job sufficient to support herself and she may end up living in that car. Give her a taste of reality, mom! You are doing her a HUGE disservice if you don't.

You don't have to be mean about it. Just lay down the rules in a very nice way and also tell her the consequence of breaking the rules, even once - she will no longer live there and the door will be locked. And then conduct yourself accordingly. But be prepared - she WILL break the rules because she will feel the need to see if you really mean it. MEAN IT, mom. Let her spend the night outside. It really won't hurt her.

There is nothing worse than having an 18 year old tell their parent what's up. I didn't stand for it with my daughter or stepsons and I won't stand for it with my granddaughter.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Here's the thing. She's 18 and she can want anything, but if it's not her dime, and her house, she doesn't get it unless you approve. I would lay out expectations - how much rent she pays, what she buys for herself, rules about visitors, etc. and I would also make it a part of the contract with her that she gets the help she needs for her depression and takes her medication. If she wants to live with you, then she needs to abide by your rules. I have a not depressed 19 yr old living with us for just the summer and she's driving me batty enough - I would be LIVID if we sent her to blow off summer school. I would pay for nothing additional for her. No insurance, no phone. She wants to be an adult and not have any rules? Go ahead, but it's not your dime.

If she truly doesn't want to live, then call a suicide hotline for advice.

FWIW, we don't give the grown sks curfews. But we do ask that they respect our home (and sleep) and either come in before 2AM or stay with friends because if we don't expect them, we may call the cops or hit them with a mag lite or something. It is respectful behavior to tell your family where you are.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

If she's really suicidal, it's time to check her into a hospital. If she's using it to manipulate you, as I suspect she is because she knows it will get to you, it's time to lay down the law. If she doesn't want to go to college or finish high school, time to get a full time job and move out. I'd tell her the rules, and let her know if she doesn't follow them you'll give her x amount of time to move out, and you'll stop paying cell phone bill and insurance. She wants to be an adult, she needs to behave like one.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

She's an adult living in your home. She's never going to learn to be an adult if you don't give her some room to grow. You can't keep ordering her to do this or do that. She has to make some decisions on her own.

You have a curfew? For an adult? Why? What makes you think an adult needs a curfew?

Do you wand to kick her out so she can go find someone that will let her sleep on their cough for some quick sex or for her to sell drugs for them? That's the sort of friends she'll find and live with.

It truly sounds like you're having a hard time letting go. All you're doing is setting her up to fail and she's doing a great job of it.

Let her be an adult. She doesn't need to "mind" you any more. Let her go but offer her support when she makes a mistake. That's what parents do.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

She's a teenager, and therefore everything she does and how she's see's things around her are hindered by her out of control emotions. She makes threats of suicide because she wants to see you guys react, which for a teenage is taken as showing that you care. The worst thing to do is to stop reacting. Even if you have to be over dramatic, and even if the teen will complain, in a little while she will get tired of acting out. Show her you care about her, and tell her that you want her not to do something because you want her to have a bright future, but do not stop her from doing it. In this fragile point in her life, she needs to know that people are there for her when she messes up, but that these people will also allow her to mess up on her own.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

you need to sit her down and state the rules. if she goes the I don't want to live route then take her and have her admitted. she will either get the help she needs or prove she doesn't need it. either way it will be the last time you deal with that one. also I would take the phone and car away until she is able to pay for both of them. its not fun to live in fear. get her the help she needs and by doing that the help you need as well.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Find her another place to live. A cheap one. She's working 25 hours a week - that's good. When she needs more money, she'll pick up more hours. Tell her that he has one year for you to subsidize her insurance and cell phone, plus x amount of money toward her rent (and make it small). This way she can barely make it without being destitute and without pulling out the "I don't want to live" card.

Tell her that she is 18 years old now. She blew off her summer school and didn't graduate. She has to learn to be responsible and the way you feel that she will learn is to live somewhere other than home. If she actually gets into college next year, you will still send her, but until then, she has to be out on her own.

I really think that this is the best way to get her to figure out her life without destroying your relationship.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

hmmm time to put your foot down momma-shes 18 no longer your legal resposibility-tell her to step up to your program or your done making her life comfy.i mean really come on-the threat of suicide? next time she says that tell her your going to call cops cuz shes a threat to herself.and theyll lock her up in a mental health ward..we all suffer from depression n anxiety from time to time-i dont get to use this as an "OUT" excuse..put your foot down..come 30 yrs old shell still be living with you ,and using suicide as a free stay at home card....



answers from Denver on

Wow - sorry you have to go through this. It's so hard when you want what is best for your child, but you aren't sure what that is and only to be complicated by her mental health condition. I do belive that there have to be boundaries and consequences. She needs to follow the rules (curfews are reasonable) and I might consider paying for less, or only allowing use of the car for work... some clear consequence. I agree with those who said getting a professional counselor involved can help all fo you. Wishing you smoother times ahead.

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