I have not been at peace with myself about this subject for the past 2 years. My daughter, M_____, is a freshman at college, lives on campus and has done very well the first semester. The college is 45 minutes away from our house, so she returns every weekend. I am having a terrible time with my inner peace about her spending nights with her boyfriend from high school, C___, when she returns home. I will not allow her boyfriend to sleep at our house, but the boyfriend lives with his grandparents who allow my daughter to sleep at their house. At first I was nice to him, but I do not respect him for encouraging her to do this. It has come to me not wanting to face him, so I don't.
A few months ago, I went as far as calling the grandmother to tell her that I am opposed to that behavior and we had a nice chat. Nothing has changed and my daughter at 18 continues to do this. She stayed every single night at the boyfriends over Christmas break. She did this with the last boyfriend as well. It eats me alive and my husband is very accepting of it, so it causes friction between he and I. Half the time, I just don't speak, as I am so upset with this behavior. I have said, "While living in our house, you have rules to follow". "If you want to do this when you have your own expenses and rent, then so be it". My views are never respected and I have come close to moving out of my own home because of it. I feel that if the boyfriend respected me, he would not let M_____ spend the night. It upsets me so much. I am more upset with my husband for letting her get away with it and she knows it. It is so difficult for me to accept this and my husband totally ignores my opinion, which upsets me more. It is a terrible example for my 10th grade daughter. I really resent my 18 yr old. She thinks because she is 18, it is ok. I am more disappointed in her and my husband for tarnishing my value system. We raised our girls with good values, attend church and taught them what is right and what is wrong. M_____ does not want to be involved in any church activities and has strayed from her faith, which hurts me, but I do know some teenagers do.
I need to find peace, and I really try, but I suppress it and then I blow at the first opportunity. I am busy with a job, workout regularly, teach Sunday school and volunteer at the church which gives me great joy, but I continue to feel so sad, embarrassed and disappointed with M_____'s behavior. She seldom eats dinner with us when she is home as she is always out. M_____ knows how important it is to me to have a family meal together.
Believe me, my husband and I got counseling from a wonderful man on how to handle her, but the problem is not sleeping at home when she comes home. My husband thinks we should get more counseling, but I now refuse as I have had enough. I do not need someone to tell me how to accept this because I never will. I feel let down by my husband too. My friends are great and offer me great support, which is always uplifting.
I see two issues here really: (1) the fact that she is staying nights with her boyfriend, and (2) she’s not been coming home.
It's natural for a mother to feel some sadness when her child leaves home and spends a lot of time with a boyfriend. It is quite normal to have a little weep now and again – or even go into the absent child's bedroom and sit there for a bit in an attempt to feel closer to her.
We know of a successful, busy and confident woman - an agony aunt, in fact - who admitted she went into her son's bedroom to sniff his T-shirt shortly after he left to go to university for the first time.
So don't be ashamed of your feelings - they are natural.
But if you experience any of the following severe symptoms, you should seek professional help - especially if they go on for longer than a week:
· You feel your useful life has ended.
· You are crying excessively.
· You're so sad you don't want to mix with friends or go to work.
In this kind of situation, what seems to happen is that the child's departure unleashes seriously depressed feelings, and these very definitely need treating.
If you know that your sadness is overwhelming you, do go and discuss your feelings with your counselor as soon as possible. You almost certainly could use some counseling to get your feelings into perspective, and you may need antidepressants.
When your child leaves home, you'll obviously want to keep in touch with her. But don't try and do this excessively.
Be sensitive to the fact that your daughter is trying to take a big, significant step in life - which doesn’t actually much to do with you.
Your daughter will need your support, but will not want to feel like you’re nagging her. And the more you cling or show that you're upset the boyfriend, the less likelihood there is of her contacting you or coming to visit.
Ration your calls to no more than two a week. Also, try texting or using email instead of phoning. You'll be able to put your feelings succinctly without getting too emotional.
This form of communication will probably suit your daughter better, too. It's much easier for a young person to say 'I really miss you' in a message rather than on the phone, when other students (or a boyfriend) might be listening.
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