I am a single mom. My daughter is fifteen and I’m not shy about saying I used a sperm bank to get pregnant with her. I was forty-five when I did that, so now I’m an older mom of sixty. Because I was bringing up my daughter alone and wanted the best for her, I moved to a suburb outside New York City. Good schools, healthy living, tight knit community, all of that. For many years everything was fine. My daughter did well in school, had lots of friends, seemed normal and happy. But this year there was a change. Her grades dropped and she basically stopped talking to me. Where are you going? How was your day? What’s up with you? I’d ask her those questions and get monosyllabic answers. I thought maybe she was using drugs and searched her room — but nothing. I sleep like a log, but one night recently I had to get up to go to the bathroom at 3AM and went to her room to look in on her. Much to my surprise, she wasn’t there. She put a bunch of pillows under the sheet to make it look as if she was there, but she wasn’t. Then I noticed the tree right outside her window and that she’d left the window open a couple of inches. I didn’t know what to do — call the police, call the moms of all her friends? But I ended up doing nothing, just lay in my bed listening for her, and when she came in about an hour later, I continued to lie there and do nothing. Oh I wanted to get up and read her the riot act, but I just couldn’t bring myself to confront her. This has been going on for a month now, like a game of cat and mouse, and I don’t know what to do about it. I’m convinced she knows I know, but I’m paralyzed and the situation drags on, getting worse with every passing day. I can’t tell anyone about it so it’s a sick secret for both of us. You will probably tell me I’m a stupid fool and an unfit mother, but I really am stuck and need help.
Thanking you in advance,
Scared-of-my-Daughter, Croton-on-Hudson, NY
You’re right. I will be “kind” and say you’re not following sound child-rearing principles, but obviously you’re scared of your daughter and that’s what you have to deal with. You want her to love you, you don’t want to rock the boat, you’re afraid to step in and correct her behavior. Well, guess what? You’re going to have to do all three of those things and more if you want your daughter to turn out like a normal healthy person and not a tyrant. Find out where she’s going at night (nothing wrong with following her), confront her, take away her privileges, talk to the boy’s parents (I assume it’s a boy she’s sneaking out to see), remove the door to her room from its hinges. And go talk to a family therapist, first for yourself so you can understand why you’re such a timid parent, and then with your daughter, who needs to learn you’re not putting up with this kind of shit anymore. If you want to continue on your current cowardly path, think of this: your daughter will grow up assuming she can always have her way with people and do whatever she wants, her grades will plummet, her friends will start avoiding her because it’s always her way or the highway. So, for your kid’s sake, get tough, as in tough love — and that means on yourself every bit as much as your daughter.
Best of luck, CD Knowles
REACTIONS TO HAUNTED BY THE GHOST OF A WOMAN
If it were me, I’d insist on a totally new start in a totally new apartment. Who wants to live in the shadow of a late wife? You will always be compared to her and always come in second. Who needs that? Put your foot down and insist on a new place that you get to decorate and make your own. That’s my advice.
Sally M., Baltimore
I’d be nervous changing my life for someone so soon after they lost their partner of many years. Habits become ingrained and your guy is older, hard to deal with if things become difficult and you don’t see eye to eye. That said, if you love him and he loves you, then go for it and don’t let ghosts haunt you. His children are grown and need to act like adults. How and what their father does with his life is frankly none of their business. Good luck to you.
Jeffrey S., Phoenix, AZ