Wednesday, September 22, 2010

18 year old left home


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Comment: Thanks.

Questioner: Becki

Subject: 18 year old who left home

Question: My 18 (almost 19) year old daughter left home about 6 weeks ago, after failing out of her second semester of college. She had been increasingly angry, uncooperative and combative in the last year since high school graduation, though she did have a good first semester in college.

However, she got her first job after the first semester ended and immediately became obsessed with this waitressing job. She and her dad had a fight in January which became physical, (of course this was totally wrong on my husband's part) and she left for a few days. After that when she returned her behavior was horrible, living in our home as if it were a hotel to come to and go from whenever she chose.

The final straw was a fight between us after she refused to discuss her failing grades, in which she also hit me. She works at the same restaurant in town and that is all that matters to her (she has abandoned all her old friends for the new "party crowd" of restaurant coworkers, all non-college people, many older guys). After one week of no communication we "repossessed" our car which she thought of as hers, from the restaurant. Since then she returns to the home to take things (mostly her own things, but some other furniture, food and supplies).

I delivered a letter to her asking to have a meeting and I've left many phone messages but she refuses to speak to me. I got a hospital bill indicating she was treated at the ER a few weeks ago. She responded to my inqury about this by leaving a msg on my work voice mail at 11 p.m. (I work until about 6 p.m.) saying she had no choice than to go to the ER, she was very sick and had no $ to pay her regular dr, when she knows I would have paid for her to see her regular dr. My question is, should I stop making any effort to contact her?

I know where she works but not where she lives or who with. I am paying for her cell phone b/c that is the only link I still have but would you advise that I cut that off? Is there really no other option than to detach from her completely and hope she "comes to her senses" and resumes our relationship "someday"? I could deal with her not attending college and prefering to work, but I can't imagine having her back in this house with so much hatred in all of her actions.

I wonder, is there really any hope? Like any parent I made mistakes but I have been very attentive to my children, putting them first for all these years. Some people say these situations resolve after time, but how often does it happen that the child never ever has contact with family again? My 24 year marriage is also ending now, in part because my husband blames me entirely for our daughter's actions. We also have a 16 year old son who is a wonderful person and very level-headed.

Answer: Dear Becki:

I am so sorry you have so much going on in your life right now. As for the 18 year old daughter she is after all 18 years of age.

I cannot imagine a family fight getting physical with an 18 year old. Your husband is certainly fortunate she did not press charges for assault or vice versa when she became violent (or was she protecting herself?)

It sounds like there are some issues here which did not develop overnight. I think you need to view your daughter as an adult and treat her as such. She has moved out so her expenses are her expenses. If you choose to pay the phone then you need to do so just because you want to and not because you expect something from her.

I would let her know that you love her and you want to see her on a regular basis. You will need to learn to just listen to her for awhile. Maybe you could meet her outside of your home for awhile possibly just to go for lunch, dinner a movie that sort of thing. Show her your are interested in her and her new life. Then listen to her. Remember you are the adult and she is trying to learn how to become an adult. She will make mistakes just like anyone else does. Realize now that her letting you into her life is her choice. It is not about showing you hatred it is about her separating from her family like all adult children do as part of growing up. They grow up, they leave and make a life of their own. It is what we raise them to do. Whether or not we agree with their life is really of no importance. What matters most is developing a relationship that will last a lifetime.

Best Wishes,

M Kay Keller