Sunday, December 2, 2012

My 17 year old daughter is dating a guy who has been in trouble!

Dear Kay,

My daughter has been dating the same guy for a year now.  While he is very nice, he has had his share of issues.  He moved out of his house when he was 15 because he didn't get along with his step dad.  He dropped out of school last year and was arrested twice on minor charges.  He is now 18 and working a full time construction job and just purchased a car.

My issue is that he is in constant need of help.  My daughter and myself have helped him with everything from posting bail to medicaid applications to finding cheaper car insurance.  He got in over his head with this car, even though I encouraged him to find a car he could pay cash for.  He has called in sick to work so many times that he may not have a job much longer.  I am all for helping someone that needs help, but I feel like she is now enabling him.  I will still help him if he comes to me, but not financially.  She works a lot even though she is still in school, and never has any money which tells me that she is supplementing him.  I don't want her to be taken advantage of.

My husband thinks the guy is total looser and does not want him around.  It has caused many, many fights between us because she is never home when he is here. When he is out, they come here for dinner. I have a very good relationship with my daughter, but she wants me to like this guy so much that she will not tell me the negatives or ask my advice when he does something to upset her.  She has a few girl friends, but fewer than she did before they started dating.  She has dropped all extracurricular at school (she used to a cheer leader and very active in school clubs) because she is working so much and he is taking up so much of her time.  He will not do anything without her help ( I think this is a self esteem issue.)  He has a lot of self esteem in dealing with other kids but is very uncomfortable around most adults.

My question is, how do I convince her to stop giving him money and how do I convince my husband that his actions are very immature and that it is he (and not the boyfriend) that is hurting his relationship with his daughter (and me).

Dear Sandy:

You are so not going to like my answer. You really missed an opportunity to teach your daughter what healthy appropriate boundaries were in a relationship when you joined into this co-dependent relationship.

I don't know if you thought helping him was somehow emotionally supporting your daughter but you were wrong to post his bail and to become this involved in his life. She may have lost interest on her own or realized that her relationship was not remotely healthy if you had not become so involved in this situation.

I would have backed off and just focused on her and her behavior and consequences for her behavior. I am wondering if you confused pity for compassion in this case. Let's look at the list.

You says he is very nice.

1. he left home at 15
2. dropped out of school
3. Two (2) arrests on minor charges (what were these charges)
4. you help him with bail and filling out papers he should be filling out on his own or seeking assistance from the agency he has to turn them into.
5. He is in debt (money problems)
6. He calls in sick to work and isn't responsible

He doesn't just sound immature it sounds like he has issues with authority and is narcissistic. She will probably marry him and end up supporting him for the rest of his life.

Help people who want to help themselves. Someone who is working and trying hard and has financial difficulties is deserving of help. Men still make more on the dollar than women so he has an advantage in any job he goes to work for and his problems are all of his own choosing only he doesn't have to face the consequences because he has two women who feel sorry for him and are enabling him. Where do you think she learned this behavior?

I am with your husband. I wouldn't want him around either and I bet eventually she would have figured this out when she was meeting with so much disapproval from both of her parents. Support her decisions when she is making health decisions and tell her when she has made a decision that is not in her best interest. So she gets mad! Part of parenting is being there for your kids and that means being honest and real with them. Risking their anger when they don't like your answer. I bet in the long run she has more respect for her dad because he knows she doesn't deserve this treatment.

If this guy loved her he would be treating her well and wanting more for her. He would be concerned about doing more for her and wanting less from her. I would bet that if she stopped giving him money he would move onto the next girl with low self esteem who would support him.

Now having said all this where to go from here. Spend time with your daughter ALONE. Focus on her and having good times with her. What is past is water under the bridge. You need to focus on building a good solid relationship with her and building up her self esteem. She needs to feel so good about herself that she dates guys who will show her a good time and respect her! Same for your husband tell him to stop focusing on this guy and just focus on her. Find time even if she will only give you moments to just be with her having fun and LISTENING more than you talk. If you do this slowly things will turn around. Please do before children come into this relationship and she really has her hands full.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller

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