My daughter is a college senior at a small university about an hour from where we live. Up till now she has been a dedicated student, all As, and determined to climb to the top of her field as a social worker. She is the first person in our family to go to college. The problem is that she’s gotten involved with a boy who has a bad influence she met a few months ago. Now all she cares about is him. She moved in with him to save on rent (actually it was the other way around — so that she could help him with rent), he uses her cell phone and car, won’t let her talk to us or even come visit, doesn’t seem to contribute a dime to their household, and — we know this for a fact — got another girl pregnant two years ago and refuses to pay child support or have anything to do with the child. What should I do? My daughter’s grades are dropping. I don’t dare take away her cellphone since I need to be able to reach her and I’m afraid to stop helping her with rent or car insurance since … well, I don’t want to think of her with nothing or out on the streets. I really need help with this and thank you in advance.
You can give your daughter as much loving advice as you wish, but who she chooses as a boyfriend is really not up to you. You may think he’s a bad match and you may not like him, but it’s her life, not yours, and your best bet is to be honest with her and tell her how you feel, but otherwise let her figure things out on her own. The best (and in my opinion only) way for people to learn is through experience, life lessons that may cause pain and disappointment, but will force them to grow up and have better discernment in the future. So give up control, mama, and realize that life itself is the best teacher. You want to keep your daughter safe, yes of course, and you also want to save yourself anxiety, so give her enough funds to cover her phone and perhaps part of the rent but let her know your parameters. (If she screws up, the money stops might be a good one.) In the meanwhile, remember you don’t have to live with the guy — that’s her problem. She’ll figure it out soon enough and when she does, refrain from the I-told-you-so’s and pat yourself on the back for having given her the freedom to learn vital lessons in her own time.
I wish you the best,
REACTIONS TO NEED AN INDEPENDENT ROOMMATE
I once had a roommate like that, only I wasn’t as nice as you are. She wanted to tag along with me everywhere I went and when I told her that wasn’t going to work, she started crying and made a huge scene. In the end it got so bad I had to kick her out and replace her with someone else. I didn’t feel sorry for her at all. She was an emotional vampire. Sounds like that’s what you’ve got living with you, too.
Sally D., Austin, TX
First, I’d do everything to make sure the roommate isn’t going to go crazy and do harm to you or herself. Then I’d kick her out. Impossible to live with someone like that.
David S., Dallas
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Disclaimer: CD Knowles is not a doctor or psychotherapist. Any opinions expressed on Knowles Knows are just that — opinions.