My daughter went to her boyfriends and now won't come home.(240 Posts)
My once happy, bright daughter started seeing this boy last summer and ever since she has changed. She spends every spare moment of her time with him, had stopped seeing her friends and hardly talks to us anymore. She wants to sleepover at his house and we do not think this is right. She says it is no different to staying at one of her girlfriends but we feel it is.
We have tried to be nice to this boy and he has been to our home many times and although we feel she is spending too much time with him we have tried very hard not stop her no matter how hard we have found this. They see each other at least 3 whole days a week during school time and every day during school holidays and they just watch tv and bake cakes. They don't go out anywhere only for the odd walk. He is all over her. When they do go out he has one arm around her back and the other one across her front holding her hand and they walk hip to hip (her dad calls it the crab shuffle).
Both her dad and I thought it would be a good idea to talk to his mum about the sleepovers and our worries - bad idea. I went Wednesday and she told me she didn't see the problem she let both her daughters bring their boyfriends home that way she knew they were safe and not in some park somewhere. Oldest had her first baby at 19 and has just had her 2nd with a partner who still lives at home so must only stay at her home on sleepovers. She has never had a job. Mum also told me she ran off with their dad when she was 16 and stayed in an abusive relationship for 16 years. She also said she had given her wedding ring to her son and he didn't know what to do with so he gave it to our daughter, had offered our daughter a home because we argue all the time (we hardly ever argue) our daughter has a tantrum and storms to her room. When I got ready to leave our daughter said she would be home later and his mum said she was safe there and would run her home when she was ready.
Our daughter then sent a text to say she was staying the night(had not clothes with her), then sent another text to say she won't be home she needs space and the last time she replied to our texts messages was Saturday and we have heard nothing since. Her dad thinks she will be home at the weekend as school starts on Monday so do we just let her come home like nothing has happened? She has upset me so much and we don't really know what we have done except love her too much perhaps. Please help.
OP you must be honest with her, she needs you to be steady and give her perspective. If she really isn't happy and has been drawn into this, your acceptance will make her minimise the controlling behaviour going on around her and make her less able to make changes. Ontop if that she will see that you are making it up to keep the peace. Show your dispproval, it doesn't mean that you have to cut her out completely.
phew . You've already lost her, it is better to be honest, or behave honestly.
Mind you, it took me a long time to get to that. I was in so much confusion and cut to the quick, it was hard to behave in a way that wasn't a bit craven, really. Not obviously, but my confidence was in pieces, I had no confidence in my judgement at all, and reverted to a kind of weird, flattened default. The most important job of my life looked to have wholly failed. (Not true though, but it does seem like it for a while.)
I knew we had some common ground somewhere Springy, I haven't been anywhere near your experience and my opinion is based only on what I have read here. I hope you can all get through this, it is actually my worst nightmare.
That's gotta hurt!! I got your PM and I'll reply here. I'm operating on the presumption that your overarching goal is to remove your daughter from that crazy home.
My parents, if I'd been in your daughter's situation, would've tried to impress upon me my responsibilities for my own life. That being 18 and legally and adult, your daughter is free to add and subtract value to her life as she wants. Your daughter seems to feel that you will always be a safety net to her, and is using that as an excuse to shirk responsibility and do as she pleases. I AM NOT SAYING THAT YOU SHOULD ABANDON YOUR DAUGHTER. Unconditional parental love is brilliant. Rather, you should let your daughter know that your love cannot be taken for granted and will not be around forever- what would happen if you and your husband were involved in an accident and passed away? She is abusing it and needs to know that a) you won't be around forever and b) she is the "captain of her life and master of her soul", and must make sound decisions for herself.
The most ideal method would be to sit her down, face to face and ask her in the calmest way possible- "What are your plans?" This will shock her into realising she and she alone is responsible for her life. Not you, not your husband, but only her. When my parents asked me that, it shocked me, and gave me a massive reality check. I got terrified of the future, which forced me to make concrete plans. I hope your daughter has a similar realisation.
A subtler method would be to text her about her belongings- where does she want her belongings- in her room, oxfam, storage or brought to her boyfriend's house. You could say something along the lines of "we think they belong where you are- they are your things after all", or "what do you want to do with them since they are unused".
You and your husband seem like a lovely couple who still have lots of love to give. So perhaps you could use the interim to do some youth work eg. fostering, volunteering at the local church/ brownies/ scouts?
The relationship seems to have been destructive from the start. It's never a good thing when people start isolating themselves from their other friends and family when they start dating. The boyfriend seems to have lots of issues. If he really did have problems, he should've been focused on solving them, not dating your daughter.
If all else fails (which I really hope doesn't happen), your daughter should wake up in a couple of years after claiming benefits and working minimum wage jobs, after realising that her life is going nowhere. I really really hope this doesn't happen as learning by experience is the most painful of all.
You need to shock her into accepting the weight of responsibility. Like I mentioned in my previous post, please don't be afraid of making your daughter feel bad. Life throws us all kinds of curveballs and the sooner she learns to pick herself up, make changes and admit her mistakes the better. Besides, she's 18 sounds like a strong young person. She will be able to cope. I can't guarantee that the immediate future will be easy, but please please take action now and she will thank you in 10 years.
Great post Universitystudent.
You have also highlighted the red flag that I am concerned about, that she has cut herself off from friends and family. In most cases this is an indication that she is in a controlling relationship.
Asking her what her plans are is a great idea, it would also be helpful to ask her when she is going to see her friends, or tell her that one of them was asking about her. This would enable you to gauge whether she is cutting them off because her friendships have naturally broken down or whether she is under pressure to cut them off.
I have just seen this thread and skimmed through.
We are 2 years on from you. My 18 yo DD had just started on her dream course. She had, the week before, met a boy. The relationship very quickly became intense, stopped her getting to know new people and settle into student life. Within 4 months she had left her course and married him.
It was the most devastating time. Even now I can't forget the horror and disbelief we went through. She is now 20 and has a baby. They have no money, her career dreams are a thing of the past and sadly, they are not happy. I listen to her crying on the phone, they live a long way away, and I am heartbroken for her really.
When we do see her, it is uncomfortable. There is always the elephant in the room. Of course i love her, but we made a conscious decision to step back and leave her to make her choices. I say decision, we had no choice, but in our own heads it was the healthiest thing to let go and stop trying to control her. We can only go forward, there is no looking back or what could have beens. She sees her mistakes, she knows that there are many unspoken I told you so's. She has to figure all this out for herself. I will give support when asked but there is little more I can do. It is heartbreaking and I really feel for anyone going through something like this.
I can only hope that in years to come she will come out the other side and it will be the making of her.
Thank you university, your post has given me hope. My/our situation is not as cut and dried as Taggert's but some strategies I could definitely be working on.
Sitting your daughter down 'face to face' isn't really an option at present by the sound of it Taggert but the other tactics sound great and definitely doable. I hope, like me, this gives you some hope and helps you to break out of the paralising grief of losing her.
I lost my kids suddenly, too - it was an overnight thing. Also some worryingly manipulative characters egging them on in the wings. It's as if we've lost our kids to a cult.
Interesting comparison to a cult Springy.
Downtrout, your situation is very different as OP has not been controlling in the past. When a child has been in a passive relationship with her parents she is likely to look for control from people outside as well. Perhaps you could try to help her to recognise this, although I'm sure you've probably tried everything.
What Universitystudent suggested is about enabling the young person to see that they are in control now, and their choices are not limited to pleasing the people around them.
Yes when I say control, I don't mean controlling. Just that when she was under 18 and under our roof we were able to set boundaries. When we lost her, she was an adult, and we had no bargaining power left.
Downtrout, your situation is very different as OP has not been controlling in the past. When a child has been in a passive relationship with her parents she is likely to look for control from people outside as well.
Downtrout your post indicates to me that you don't want to enable your daughter's independence, it's about you letting go or you being in control - read your own post (sorry). If there is an elephant in the room, deal with it. If you think there are 'told you so's', assure her that you will not judge, apologise to her if need be, ensure that she shouldn't feel like that. Be the adult and manage the situation. Move on and make a future for yourself, your daughter and your grandchild.
Springy, exactly what I said. If you bring your child up to do as you say, or expect them to do that, they will seek out relationships with others where they can be passive. They don't learn about choices and independence. They substitute you for another person that can be in charge. This is not a judgement, it is just a parenting style. Some people spot a passive person and take advantage.
I See that we are at opposite ends of the spectrum. We were, for want of a better word, enablers. My DD had all the control and manipulated us all, for years. It nearly destroyed our family.
DD is not passive. She has shifted the control she had over us to her DH. She thrives on drama and I have had to learn appropriate responses to diffuse situations, rather than feeding the attention seeking behaviour.
We actually responded in the way that universitystudent outlines above. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but she did indeed need to learn that she is in control of her own destiny. At the moment she is angry that I don't just open my arms and say "come on home and we"ll make everything alright." the fact is that unconditional love does not mean doing what she wants us to do. It means supporting from a distance and hoping that she does "wake up in a couple of years after claiming benefits and working minimum wage jobs, after realising that her life is going nowhere" painful as that is.
Gosh passedgo you don't hold back! I thought I could be blunt but, my goodness, there's no stepping around this appallingly painful situation for you!
I repeat that a lot of what you say is theory. YOu say yourself that you are not experiencing anything like this. Life has a way of being very different to theory.
I will say that this is, without question, the most excruciatingly painful situation I have experienced in my life to date. Your probing, and conclusions, are painful to me - please tread carefully with what you have to say. You say you are not judging but that's how it comes across, I'm afraid. It looks like posters are having to justify themselves in the face of your probing. I don't think it's possible to draw air-tight conclusions about eg passivity, control or otherwise from the scant info one gets from an internet post. Professionals train for years to sniff out themes and, even then, things are not necessarily clear cut.
imo parents can be so terrified of this that they can apportion blame as a defence mechanism: 'ah see, now I wouldn't do it like that' [implied: 'so it isn't going to happen to me]'. I'd have to say to that: 'don't be so sure'. Imo there is often no defence to these awful situations, they can come out of the blue in many ways. Young people just are vulnerable as they prepare to launch and can be exploited by people with an agenda. That's just how it goes imo. You don't necessarily see it coming and there isn't necessarily anything you can do about it at the time.
I have three children. All brought up the same. But for one nothing was never enough. You could ask my DCs, for them I would be painted as three different mothers.
I did not come on this thread for support or advice. I have had enough threads of my own on the subject. Rather, I wanted to offer a little perspective to the OP and let her know that although our situations differ, we have something in common, and that she is not alone.
A teen can go off the rails for all sorts of reasons. I know I have a deeply unhappy DD who feels the need to push, manipulate and dramatise every situation, but I'm damned if I know how to make it better, or how I could have prevented it. passedgo you may see that as trying to control her. I think that I try to protect her. We must agree to differ on that.
Of course my opinions are theoretical. If you only want to hear agreement you will never move forward. It comes across as judgment to you but I am trying to help you to see things in perspective and help you to rebuild your bond with your children rather than break it.
I am concerned with your children as a priority, sorry but your feelings come second, you are stronger than they are.
You Are entitled to your opinion.
But I really hope that one day, when you are tearing your hair out about your child that you have spent 20 years loving and nurturing, and is now self destructing, that someone with no experience of your situation doesn't come along and helpfully point out how you have done everything wrong, and tell you that you have no right to be upset and as the "adult" in the relationship you should put aside your own feelings, despite it affecting every member of your family including younger DCs.
I wish we were all so perfect and that all our DCs came top of their class, had their pick of ivy league unis and had not given us a moments bother because we had been such fantastic, selfless parents.
Glad to hear that you are so concerned with my DD as a priority. Do you honestly think I have been doing that for years?
Hello lovely and wonderful people,
Thanks a lot for discussing my post- this 19-year-old is glad to be of service. I joined Mumsnet with the purpose of taking part in the churn of debate (which I find stimulating) and perhaps adding a teenage perspective (As if my Law degree and uni life doesn't take up enough of my time ). Heh.
Reading through, I've got to agree with springybuffy's assertion on theory. Life never turns out exactly in the way we want to, does it? Things go wrong, people change- it adds up. Nothing's perfect- I'm not perfect, my life isn't perfect, neither are my parents. I do believe, however, that everything happens for a reason and
a) we should never give up hope
b) there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
So to Taggert1 and anyone else in a difficult situation, please don't lose heart. Hang in there!!
As a teenager and daughter, I'd say that there is a limit to parental efforts regarding children. You guys have the wisdom, experience and the will to teach it to us. Whether us kids will accept that advice or not is completely up to us. We can't be directly forced to make changes- the impetus to change has got to be lit from within, and must happen at a very fundamental, core level. Even if restrictions are imposed, if our core beliefs remain unchanged, resentment and alienation will grow. Sadly, we don't often realise you were right until much, much later. It seems like a horrible paradox to be in- knowing your kid is going off the rails and not being able to jump in to save them.
And that is where I doff my hat to you lovely mums ladies- how on earth do you survive that constant stream of heartache? I know a couple of young mums personally with kids from newborn to toddler age and I could see how heartbroken they'd be if their babe-in-arms went on a rampage. I am very touched by actions of maternal love- loving your kids despite all the heartbreak and anxiety they bring.
Taggert1- contacting your daughter's friends and teachers would be another cause of action. If your daughter is anything like me, she'd probably spend more time with friends and they'd probably have the inside scoop on the affair. They'd know if she'd been going to school, her future plans, and most importantly, why she went after her boyfriend.
DowntonTrout- crikey that is a hard situation! From your post (correct me if I am wrong), your daughter seems to have learnt from the situation and that is a splendid positive. Loads of people have overcome more challenging situations (eg. war, famine, illness). We young adults are stronger than our parents like to believe and I am sure your daughter will find her feet. After all, experience teaches the best lessons but they are very often the hardest to learn.
To wrap up, I have nothing but respect to you all. Where do you get this strength to never give up on your children?
UniverysityStudent the first thing I did when all this happened was to contact her friends and all they would say was that they didn't like the BF but would not say why. They also said that they had now seen very much of her since he came on the scene and if they did meet up he had to be there so they didn't invite her as much I guess because they didn't like him. Our DD has now stopped contacting all her friends and they too have been deleted from her facebook account and she doesn't reply to any of their texts, emails or calls.
When asked about her future plans she just says 'I don't know' - everything these days is 'I don't know' - this is not my DD becasue she had an opinion on everything and a good idea about what she wanted to do.
Because she has cut herself off from everyone and will not reply to us is why I worry so much but what can I do if she will not reply to me, meet or talk to me. We have tried going to the house but his mother (being polite here) answers the door and says she doesn't want to see us as it upsets her or some other crap she can come up with and then says give her time she will come round - pray tell me how when this
bitch woman stands in the way and I guess is enjoying every moment of our pain because she too dished it out firsthand and then must have encouraged her DD's to it too.
I just don't know what to do for the best. Do I
Leave her to it and do as she askes and give her space and does this mean no contact?
Keep contacting her and get not reply which hurts more each time?
Just send Birthday and Christmas cards and nothing more?
I don't know anyone going through this so no matter what my friends say they are not going through this nightmare and pain and I don't want to keep talking to them about it because that isn't fair to them when their children are home or at uni getting on with their lives.
I'm from the kind of family but much worse that your DD has actually ended up living with.
The Mum will never see your point of view and will just not get having aspirations.Seriously that is a theme that runs through my family, I am now very much on the margins for being "stuck up".
I think you should step back and get some counselling because it is making you ill.
Never bother trying to appeal to the BF Mothers better nature.
When at some point your DD chooses to re engage then be there for her.
I would stop paying for everything and would not have given her the car. I suppose I'm a very much you make your bed you lie in it but I did have an incredibly tough upbringing.
Thank you Preciousbane I have always thought that his mother has been behind this and is happy to encourage everything so that she looks the goody goody but in actual fact is the devil or worse and every day I pray (not that I am that religious) that something will happen and our DD will see them for what they are but I feel in my heart that this is a long way off by which time too much damage will be done and she will never get back the dreams she had. We have always tried to do our best for her and although she did not get everything and was spoilt she never went without either.
She only got the car because we did not want another argument and give his mother more to throw at her about us. I lay all the blame for this at his mother's door because if she was not the kind of person she is we would not find ourselves in this position.
It is my birhday soon and I am dreading it because this will be the first time she will not be with us - I feel like telling her not to bother putting a card in the post (because I am sure this is as much as I will get) if she can't be bothered to contact or see us. Is this wrong?
This situation is bad. Awful. Stinking. The more I read your thread, the more sinister my thoughts become. Let me explain my line of reasoning.
Reading through, here are a couple of facts I've gleaned:
a) Boyfriend's mum stands in the doorway to prevent you from entering the house and you have yet to go inside, or at least far enough to see the living quarters.
b) You have yet to have seen/ heard your daughter in person since that fateful day when she left. All contact through her has either been through text/ FB/ boyfriend's mum.
As such, it seems to be a possibility that the boyfriend's mum might have something to hide. Why else would she be preventing your entry? And forms of electronic communication are ambiguous at best- we really cannot tell if it really is the person, or a third party communicating with us through it as we don't see them in person. It might not have been your daughter texting you/ deleting her Facebook friends and Facebooking- it might have been the boyfriend's mum.
The point is- your daughter could be the victim of some crime the boyfriend's family has committed and they are trying to conceal the evidence by preventing your access to the house. People can be evil sometimes- take this from a Criminal Law student. My study of criminal case law shows that evil can have no bottom. Anything might have happened- your daughter might have been enslaved in some way, hurt or kidnapped. I am not saying this to scare you- this has happened after a careful consideration of the boyfriend's mothers behaviour, which is incredibly suspicious. Why would she prevent you from seeing your daughter unless she had something to hide? She would not have lost or gained anything by letting you get even a glimpse of your daughter. And no one has any way of vouching for your daughter's personal safety as no one seems to have seen her in person since she left. Anything, ANYTHING could have happened to her. And it is perfectly within your right to ensure that she is fine.
The criminal law might be able to help you here. Is there a solicitor or law clinic or legal advice centre you could go to for advice? Or even better, go straight to the police. I THINK there just MIGHT be grounds for a police inspection if you state these concerns, but don't take my word for it. I wish I could advise you in person, but to my regret I'm no qualified solicitor. Not yet anyway.
If you do get a police search and find all is well (I hope!!), you should be able to get a scope of the situation and talk to your daughter again.
The situation I've outlined above is a remote possibility, but a possibility nonetheless.
Do you have another family member who can arrange to meet 121 with your dd away from bf's house? Ostensibly to ascertain which of her belongings she wants but to make sure that she is safe and well and there of her own volition?
Once that has been ascertained to their satisfaction, relative can inform dd you are selling up and going on a round the world trip/holidaying in New York for your birthday/given her room to a waif and stray/joined a commune - essentially have embraced life.
I was speaking to my dad and he's of the opinion that his friend's dd resurfaced after she learnt she had been supplanted at home with the lodger/apprentice. Things there are rocky again after she learnt the apprentice is taking on more of the business and her parents have long term retirement plans abroad.
Did you say your daughter is at college? Is she still going? Have you made the college aware of the situation?
Thank you all for your replies. We have tried to get our DD to see other members of the family but she does not appear to want to see any member of our family and the only people she is interested in is his family. We did contact the police at first because I was so worried and they did talk to our DD but all she would say was she was happy (this was about 2/3 weeks after she walked out).
SchmaltzingMatilda the house next door to us is up for sale and we sent our DD a text asking to see her but she replied 'Your moving so why should I!' so I don't think she would care if we were moving to another planet let alone another country.
Re the texts and facebook saga I have thought several times the BF delets them or replies but she won't have it because she can see no wrong in what is going on and I truly think until something goes wrong there is nothing we can do and perhaps we will just move on if that is what she wants.