18 year old daughter loses her mind

BurnedoutApril 7, 2013

OH BOY....This is a crazy one.

I and my wife have an 18 year old daughter. Up to age 18 and graduating from high school, she had been a model kid. People would not believe us when we tell them about her. She was a really good kid and she graduated third in her class with honors. She got a full ride to a local university where she started out in a pre-med program, but chemistry ended that. However, gradually it is as if she has morphed into a 13 year old.

She had been living at home and going to school. However, she made friends with this disfunctional family and moved out and moved in with them. Her grades have slipped and is now failing a couple of classes.

We still pay for her Cell phone, car insurance and she is on our health insurance. She claims we are too critical, yet, we would mainly ask her to let us know when she would be home simply so we could have a place for dinner for her. We ask her how school is going. She thinks we are too critical. We also asked her to do a very few chores; specifically take out the trash and bathe the dog once a week. THAT IS ALL.

This family she moved in with has 9 people living under one roof. There are dirty dishes all over the place, they have a baby there that is only 4 months old, a 13 year old that does not go to school if she chooses. There are problems with head lice there, and scabes.

Add to all that, she has had one problem after another, first, she hydroplanes in her car and ends up in a ditch, lucky to be alive. She loses not one but TWO cell phones, she left her lights on in her car and ran the battery down TWICE and needed a jump, and THIS IS JUST IN TWO WEEKS! Every time she calls me or her mother. We are on our wits end. Hell...one of the cell phones she got wet and she JUST GOT IT YESTERDAY and it was $150 cell phone.

She works part-time at McDonalds, pays about $175 in rent and does not even have a room to her own. The house stinks. She honestly used to be far more responsible at age 16 than she is now at 18.

What I am considering if I should tell her that she has two weeks to decide if she will come home and if she decides not to, we will pull her off our car insurance, cell phone, and health insurance. I am also looking at maybe having her talk to a military recruiter.

I am half tempted to call child protective services on that family because of the bad conditions on those kids at that place and have them go in see if it is safe. I suspect with the head lice and scabes they won't. The people living in that house is a mother in her mid 40's, her daughter who is 19 and not married with a newborn and that girl's boyfriend who is 22, an adult woman, a 13 year old girl, the mother's boyfriend, and there are people coming and going from the place.

My wife and I are just at an end. We just want our old daughter back. HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLP!

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Follow up post. I forgot to mention that the mother who is in her mid 40's leaves for three weeks at a time with her 22 year old boy friend.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 8:41PM
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If your daughter lives outside oury home, you should not be expecting her for dinner... or paying for her lost cell phone, etc.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 10:05PM
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We only had those rules when she lived at home. I would prefer she come home and get away from that family. I am very tempted to call child protective services on the situation with those children in that home.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 10:29PM
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"She loses not one but TWO cell phones,We are on our wits end. Hell...one of the cell phones she got wet and she JUST GOT IT YESTERDAY and it was $150 cell phone."

It sounds like she is trying to become independent. My opinion is that you need take a step back so she can see just how generous you and your wife have already been. Don't nag or bother her. In fact, give her a even more space.

I would stop paying for everything but the car insurance. The next time she loses a phone, send her to Walmart to purchase a tracfone. They are $10.00. A 60 minute card is $20.00. Even someone working at McDonalds can afford that.

It sounds like she is hanging out with losers. I know you don't want her to do this indefinitely so I wouldn't say much about them. It will just make her rebel more.

I'd offer a carrot. Tell her she can move back home if she pays YOU the $175 rent and goes back to college. Offer to pay for a couple of courses at a time. Make sure she understands your rules before she comes back. I'm sure she has to show respect at the house where she is living now.

Put her rent money aside in a separate account. Don't mention you are saving it for her. Just surprise her when she needs money for something useful (not frivolous). Like a deposit on an apt, etc.

She is still young and needs to feel what it is like to become completely independent. Then she will have more sympathy for all the effort the two of you have put into getting her to adulthood.

Sometimes all it takes is a little breathing room.

With any luck, she will thank you for backing off later.

I wish you the best of luck.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 9:46AM
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I'm so sorry you're going through this with your daughter. We butted heads quite a bit with our daughter when she was 17 and 18, and she did think seriously about leaving home. I can't identify with all the problems you're having with her, but I can with some of them. I know it is a difficult time for you and your wife.

I think it's hard to know how to give help unless we know why she's moved away from home and making the choices she's making. Do you know if it's a boyfriend issue, are alcohol or drugs involved?

I think a lot of young people get derailed their first year of college. Most of my friends have college kids and my kids are in college. Here are my gut feelings, which could very well be wrong. First of all, if your daughter graduated number 3 in her class with a full ride scholarship, then just the difficulty of chemistry alone shouldn't have derailed her. In my experience, what usually happens is that the students who fare poorly don't go to class and don't do their work. Most college professors have office hours and possibly TA's with office hours, and many universities have free tutoring available.

You'd think that intelligent young people who mess up their first year in college would straighten up, learn their lesson and get their work done. But it doesn't always work that way. Many of the young people I know who had problems went through all K-12 years of school never having to study. Some of them adjust and some drop out. It's really tough on their ego to go from having everything come so easily to having to study hard and get tutoring help.

Your requirements for your daughter living at home are very reasonable. Again, I know students who give their parents flack about that kind of thing, but you're not asking for anything out of line at all.

Re the part about the hydroplaning and the cell phones, I'd let that go. If she was getting straight A's and doing outstanding in school, you'd probably let it go. The problem of moving out and living with the other family is much worse.

I do know other families who have had problems similar to yours, and at one time I was holding my breath afraid we'd be in your shoes. As parents of young adults, I and most of my friends try to walk a line between letting them make their mistakes and heading off any major disaster that would absolutely ruin our young adult's life.

So you can't really drag her back home. If this was my daughter, I'd consider paying the cell phone. As long as she has a cell phone that you're paying for, you know she can call you in case of an emergency. I'd rather pay the bill and know my daughter can always call me. I'd also keep my daughter on my health insurance and if she needed birth control I'd pay for that. If I owned the title to her car I'd either pay the car insurance or take the car back. For everything else I'd just step back and let her pay her own way.

I'd also let her know that I love her very much, and that if she wants to come back home and get help with paying for school, the door is open. Then I'd let her live her life and make her mistakes. Sounds like she's going to have to learn some things the hard way.

All of this is assuming she doesn't have problems with drugs or alcohol.

I know several young people who have done seemingly jaw-dropping, crazy things like your daughter. They just have to grow up; their parents can't magically fix it. I'm so sorry you're in this position. Hopefully you've raised her well and she'll circle back around to be the responsible young woman you've raised her to be.

A dear friend of mine's daughter moved out a couple of years ago. During her first semester of college she met a guy, dropped out, went to live in a situation somewhat like you're describing. She's just now getting her life straightened out and moving back in with her parents.

My last suggestion is this, and it's probably the most important one. Once a week, if your daughter will let you, take her out to dinner or to lunch. Mentally declare to yourself that during that time you won't discuss anything negative or ask her any questions. Let her talk about whatever she wants to talk about. Don't give advice or suggestions, just listen or keep to general chit chat. If it will help, let her know that's what you're going to do. Make sure you keep that connection open to her. During that lunch or dinner time don't ask her to come home or ask her how her grades are. When she leaves, tell her that you love her.

Something's up with your daughter, and there's really no way for you to know what's going on for sure. She's 18 years old and she can walk away at any time. So keep a connection. If it turns out to be something like drugs or alcohol, you can intervene and get her some help. If she's just an 18 year old who has gone a little crazy and wants her independence, she'll just have to learn the hard way that independence isn't all it's cracked up to be. If she's abusing substances, then she probably hasn't done anything that can't be fixed.

A lot of good parents go though what you're going through. Keep your marriage strong and step back and let your little girl fall on her face. That's my advice. You're not alone, and it does get easier. It's a shock when it first happens.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 7:51PM
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I'm so sorry, but when really good kids turn like this? So often there are drugs involved. And/or it's a time of life when many develop serious mental illness.

Have you sat down with your healthcare professional? to get his/her perspective on this and their suggestions? I think I'd start there.

But you DO need to stop enabling--if she wants to live on her own, she needs to be financially responsible. I would pay NOTHING for her, and if the car is in your name? TAKE IT BACK--because with or without insurance, you could be in a real mess if she kills someone with it.

Now as a parent, I would certainly let her know that she is always my child, and I'd always be there for her, but I WILL NOT support her bad choices. Her room is always there for her (hey, I've got a room in my house for my 31 yo daughter--even though we've moved since she moved out, and even though she never comes to visit overnight--still keep a room available if she wants it)

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 10:04AM
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