Thursday, September 23, 2010

18 year old left home!

Knowledgeability Clarity of Response Timeliness Politeness Nomination?
10                       10                           5              10             Yes

Comment: Thank You for the advise. Just listening is major. Thanks

Questioner: Anonymous

Subject: 18 year old left home

Question: My daughter has moved out on her 18th birthday. It is just 4 months until her graduation. She has been planning on attending a local college and staying on campus. She says she left because she feels her step mother hates her. My wife does not hate her. My wife is very upset that she has moved out but has trouble showing and expressing her feelings. My daughter is jumping from friends house to friends house. She has 2 jobs and earns money, but as she moved out all she had was a hundred bucks and her clothes.

What can I do?


Answer: Dear Anonymous:
Well it sounds like you are caught in the middle. You can validate her feelings by telling her you hear what she is saying. By telling her that her feelings are not real she probably feels you are taking sides and invalidating her. I am not saying you need to agree with her just listen to her and tell her you are sorry she does not feel accepted (which makes her feelings recognized but does not necessarily say you agree with her perspective). Mostly listen without disagreeing with her. Then realize she is 18 and respect that she is making her own decisions, taking responsibility for herself. Although I hear in your writing her having only a $100 and her clothes with her is worrying you it also speaks of her as she is not sleeping on the streets.

Tell her you are concerned about her and her welfare. If you want her back home then tell her so. Open up and tell her that you love her and make sure she knows your feelings for your wife in no way diminish your feelings for her as your daughter. You may also want to express to her that although you love your wife and your spending time with her may make your daughter feel like she is on the outside at times (especially with her going off to college and leaving home) that you will always be there for her and that she can always come and talk to you (I know this comes as a surprise however even adult children need reassurances from their parents when there are major life changes happening. (Going to college is a MAJOR life change).

When in doubt John listen and listen some more. We as parents have a habit of talking more than listening and we can not express to our children enough how much we care although we may not always be able to fix their problems (that is what they are taking on as adults). Also let her know that you see her as an adult and able to take care of herself. That is a huge compliment for any teen/adult child.

One more thought, never do for her what she can do for herself as it undermines her feelings of competence and self esteem.

Take care,

M Kay Keller