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DH really upset with dsd

(24 Posts)
Barbarashop Thu 23-May-13 09:36:05

Bit of background:
DH and ex split when dsd was a baby. I met him web she was 3. DH has been a fully involved parent, always supported financially, seen her regularly, she's been on family holidays with us, had a bedroom of her own at our house, he's been to doctors, dentists, school meetings, has a good relationship with ex and they have tried hard (with the support of me and ex's partner) to parent together and resolve issues out of earshot of dsd. As much as a nrp can be, he has been fully involved in her life.
Dsd struggled academically but with support and hard work, achieved Cs in her GCSEs and is currently finishing a level 3 diploma and an A level. Her chosen field is creative rather than academic. She wasn't sure about university but then changed her mind 18 months ago. We worried that it was because her boyfriend was going and she picked the same uni. Mum also has a new partner that she doesn't get on with and we thought this was also influencing her, she saw it as a way to leave home. She has always been quite immature and we felt she'd benefit from a Third year at college (foundation) before moving on. She didn't agree. We discussed it at length and agreed to support her decision. She applied and got a place on her chosen course (vocational degree) at her chosen uni (same as boyfriend). She also began to show better levels of maturity, more drive and ambition and really seemed to want to do it for herself. DH was so proud of her.
Fast forward to a couple of months ago. She splits with bf (amicably) and is still keen on uni. Last week she chose her halls and DH had agreed to go down and sit with her and ex and work out finances/ fill in forms etc.
Ex has seemed reluctant all along. Saying she doesn't think dsd will go ( I think she's worried about the student debt).
So yesterday, I phone ex for another reason and dsd answers, she casually informs me that 1. She has a new boyfriend and 2. She's not going to uni anymore.
She says she'll work and get an apprenticeship in her chosen field (like gold dust, particularly in her area) and that her mum has said she'll write a letter to the council stating that she can't live at home so that she can get a council flat.
I asked if she'd told her dad (DH is working away) Sje said no and I suggested she phone him. She agreed she would. When I spoke to DH at 10pm she hasn't phoned and I told him what she'd said. He was so angry and upset that he was almost crying. He said he felt she was throwing her life away for a bf ( she won't say this is te reason and I suspect her mum has had an influence), that she had a fantastic opportunity and was good to end up living hand to mouth in a flat and old before her time. He also said he felt she'd deceived him by all the talk of doing uni for herself and not the first bf. He said he'd done with her and didn't want to see her again (I know this was heat of the moment and he doesn't mean it but I persuaded him not to phone or text her last night just in case he said something he regretted). He is also angry with ex's influence. I pointed out that if it is really something she doesn't want she can't be forced and she is 18 and has to find her own way but I do understand his upset. He said if she'd said 18 months ago that uni wasn't her, he'd have said ok, let's look at your options then and helped her to find out what she wanted. The fact that up to last week she was insistent makes him think it is all about the bf and her mum has given her another way to leave home (although how realistic the council flat plan is, I don't know)
Anyway, I want to support DH but I also want him to at least listen to dsd and maintain the good relationship he has worked so hard to achieve. How do I not sound like I'm defending dsd and ex but also try to calm him and how do I support him without condemning dad or fanning the flames?
Sorry that was loooooooong.

Barbarashop Thu 23-May-13 09:39:12

Sorry, that last bit should be without condemning dsd not dad

RubyOnRails Thu 23-May-13 09:42:23

Teenagers are bloody idiots sometimes. I know I was... but the mother is no better...writing a letter in support of council flat is s dreadful thing to do given the shortages. After that, well, it's her cannot force anybody to uni.

AmbrosiaCreamedMice Thu 23-May-13 09:43:12

He's an arse. What'll he do if she did something REALLY bad?

Well hes hardly an arse. hmm Hes a concerned parent.

I think your DH needs to find out the length of the waiting lists in your area and explain to DSD that the plan her mum has given her will not work.

As for the bf and uni. Well, shes a teenager. She wont listen if she doesnt want to. I think all you can do is let her make the mistake. She will see how hard apprenticeships are to come by. Going to uni is still an option in a year or even two. After all, you did suggest she waited a year anyway.

BasilBabyEater Thu 23-May-13 09:51:33

It's a waste of time being angry with her, she's a teenager and she hasn't actually done anything terrible, just changed her mind about her study options. It seems a bit OTT to be that angry about it, disappointment, concern, yes, but anger? Why?

You said you thought she needed to do a foundation course before doing the uni thing - have you thought of discussing that with her to see if there's any chance she'll return to that idea?

Sometimes people - even teenagers - make the right decisions for them on instinct rather than sensible thought-through decision-making. The student debt thing is a genuine consideration and if she's a bit weak in the subject (needing foundation course to consolidate her knowledge) then maybe it wasn't the right choice for her in the first place? That doesn't mean the apprenticeship is the right choice, just that if your DH gets hung up on the uni thing, he's going to hit a wall immediately in any discussion with her.

The leaving home thing - could she come and live with you for a year while she does a foundation course? (I realise that may not be on the cards, but throwing it out as an option - maybe the thought of a different environment might get her to consider more options.)

BasilBabyEater Thu 23-May-13 09:54:31

Yes, wannabe's idea of getting her to find out about the waiting lists - and criteria for being housed - will focus her mind on how impossible the council house plan is.

The DH shouldn't do it himself, he should get the number of the housing dept and get her to do it - to ring up, talk to a housing officer and find out for herself how there's no way she'd get a council place. Coming up against that reality will be useful for her.

EvilEdna2909 Thu 23-May-13 09:57:24

What subject is it? If its kore vocational than academic then university courses don't always help..going straight into working or apprenticeships are usually a better way anyway

mummytime Thu 23-May-13 10:06:25

She won't get a council flat.

Would she look at Foundation courses? Could you see if her school can get her some careers advice?

But her Dad probably needs to let her find out for herself that her plan won't work. And then be there to pick up the pieces and help her. You don't have to go to Uni at 18. You can go later, and it may be better when she has more idea what she wants to do.

I expect she knew her Dad would explode which is why she phoned you first, and then put off phoning him. Which is probably quite a good strategy actually.

purpleroses Thu 23-May-13 10:06:37

The council flat plan is entirely unrealistic. Even if she's got nowhere else to go, as a single person over 18 she'd be the bottom of a very long list. You could encourage her to talk to the council to verify this.

Otherwise - think you do have to support her right to make her own decisiosn. And sounds like Uni wasn't a certain bet to the the right decision anyway. She can always go in a year or two if she finds it's not easy to get where she wants without a degree. If she's a bit immature she might make better decisions in a year or two.

Leaving home might be a good thing for her though - could she get a room in a shared house with some friends? It's a less expensive way of leaving home than doing a university degree that you're not all that sure about.

theboutiquemummy Thu 23-May-13 10:18:54

The hardest thing about being a parent is knowing when not to parent ~ I think this is one of those times

it's time for her to grow up. Decisions have consequences let her find that out.

Everyone is expecting your DH to be upset which he is but when he speaks to them my advice would be to play it down

Barbs perhaps now would be a good time to step back a little support your DH then you won't fall into the trap of he said she said. Let father n daughter work it for themselves

Good Luck

Branleuse Thu 23-May-13 10:19:03

she wont get a council place for that

HomageToCannelloni Thu 23-May-13 10:30:55

She's 18. He should do nothing, simply because any influence he tries to exert at this stage that goes against her plans will alienate her. She is now an adult, he has to step backhand make her mistakes.
He CAN tell her 'well it's not what I'd choose but I support you I'd it's what you want to do' but that's about it.

Fwiw I WAS her at 18. Hated my DSD, wanted to leave home, got a Uni place i rejected because I was loved up...and it all went tits up, which is actually the best thing that ever happened to me!

I was dumped 2 months after I should have been off to Uni, had to do a job I hated, live in a shitty flat with a grim flatmate and no money in a town I couldn't stand and couldn't afford a car to visit my old home town. Within 2 yers I had done another course at college, saved up enough to pay my first year of Uni costs and gone on to a MUCh better Uni because of the extra course. Loved Uni, met a great man who is now my DH and I am very happy now. Had I gone along with my original plans I don't think I'd have been half as happy!

She'll sink or swim, his job is to be there to encourage her without any 'told you' malarkey if it goes wrong, and celebrate with her if it's alright. It's harsh, but that's parenthood.

Barbarashop Thu 23-May-13 13:35:21

Thank you for your replies, I agree with the vast majority of you. DH is certainly not an arse. He is worried, he is upset that what both he and she thought was a great opportunity will not come to fruition. He loves her very much and just wants her to achieve her potential. I agree that his initial angry reaction was extreme and was actually totally out of character for him but I think he is terrified that she will fall through the cracks and end up with no prospects, no money and struggling through life. She has got a talent which she loves (it's photography) and he wanted her to follow her dream. He is worried that that she'll end up miserable in a minimum wage job when she could have enjoyed her career/job. If she didn't love it and wasn't talented, I think he would say less.
We offered for her to live with us for foundation year but she lives in a different town and didn't want to do that.
She didn't ring me, I phoned to speak to ex about something unrelated and dsd answered (it was something innocuous, nothing to do with dsd). He is hurt that she didn't discuss it with him when he has been with her every step of the way. I don't necessarily think it's about uni as such, more that she convinced us that this was what she wanted then seems to have quite suddenly changed her mind - the timing of the new boyfriend doesn't help her case in his eyes.
I have tried to explain that teenagers can be fickle, that it's not the end of the world and that we just have to be there to pick up the pieces if it all goes wrong (or celebrate her choices if she succeeds).
She is 18 but she is still very much reliant on her mum and dad for the vast majority of things ( nothing wrong with that really) but it makes it hard to treat her as an adult when she still says things like "how do you post a letter?" Or "my mum doesn't have time for me because she's always looking after the little ones" (not entirely true to be fair but it's her perception)
I spoke to his ex earlier to get the full story - dsd gives the bare details so that I can give DH the full facts before he speaks to her - I don't want him to say anything he'll regret. Ex understood his feelings and is going to talk to dsd about solid plans that she can discuss with her dad. Neither me nor ex want it to affect their relationship but we both agree that she has approached things in the wrong way and that DH needs to get some perspective.
Dsd needs to want to go to uni for herself - not to please her dad or it won't work out anyway, I know that and I think probably deep down DH does too but I think he's frightened for her and disappointed that her choices seem to be based around whoever is her current bf. She's not the first teenager to do this though, I don't think that makes her deceitful, maybe fickle and a little misguided/naive but show me a teenager who isn't I suppose. (Exhausted sigh)

Barbarashop Thu 23-May-13 13:42:05

Homage, I had a very similar background to you and I think maybe that's why I understand her a little more. I made a few shocking choices as a teenager but went back to uni and now do a job I love. If I'd stayed at uni first time around, I probably wouldn't have met DH. He doesn't have the same background, his parents didn't encourage education and he regrets not having a higher level of education. I know he can't live his life through dsd but he's terrified she'll hit the same pitfalls and live with regret. (Not that his lack of formal education has really hurt his career prospects - he does a good job he loves) He sees it a little bit as all or nothing at the minute when there is a world of choices out there.

brdgrl Thu 23-May-13 15:12:09

I was never raised with the expectation that once I turned 18 I could both do what I liked and still expect parental support. Financial or otherwise. Of course your DH needs to be careful not to drive her away - but he can't live in fear of that, can he, or he can't be an effective parent. It is not clear to me from your post (sorry if I missed it) whether your DH was going to be providing any financial support for her plans, or whether he will be now. Or if there is any legal agreement about support now that she is 18?

If it were my daughter and I'd agreed to provide some financial support while she went to uni/foundation year, and she then decided not to go, I would withdraw my financial support and put the money I would have contributed to her now, into an account for later - either when she decided she did want to go to uni, or when she needed it for another major investment. In the meantime, I'd offer her tons of moral support and advice where I could, but I would not fund a decision which I felt was entered into lightly or which I knew was a poor investment.

Student loan debt should be barely a blip on her radar, frankly. The conditions for repayment make it extremely manageable.

I work at a university, and both myself and my DH were until recently full-time postgraduate students. My DSD is starting a foundation course in the autumn and then will go on to do a three-year degree (in a creative field). I've had to become a bit of a self-made expert on student finance lately! - and one thing that stands out to me is that it actually is not just a feasible option for young people with a low household income, but in many cases may give them an actual and immediate financial advantage.

If she doesn't want to go, there's no point in making her, and no, university is not the best choice for everyone. But there is every reason to sit her down and make sure she actually understands what her precise financial situation is. The student finance calculator online can help.

AmbrosiaCreamedMice Thu 23-May-13 16:19:07

He's dis-owning her because she, at 18 (!), is changing her mind. I'd say he's an arse.

AmbrosiaCreamedMice Thu 23-May-13 16:20:12

Sorry, I went to post that hours ago, but the site went down, refreshed and it posted. Apologies if thread has moved on and OPs H is NOT an arse!

Barbarashop Thu 23-May-13 18:13:34

Ambrosia, please dad my last couple of posts - he isn't disowning her and he wouldn't - he was upset and said things to me in the heat of the moment. He hasn't said anything like that to her. I think actually it's the opposite - he fears losing her. He has worked so hard all her life to be as involved as he possibly can be as the nrp but I know he hasn't felt the same security in his relationship with her as he does with our children who he lives with. He has tried so hard not to be a Disney dad as he wanted a 'real' father/daughter relationship.
Brdgrl - thank you for your post - I feel the same way you do about student finance ( I actually think her mum is more the one who is worries about this). I don't think DH will persuade her now and I don't think he should try too hard because if she doesn't want to go, then deep down, how well will she achieve?
We didn't agree to support her financially and neither did her mum. A couple of reason really, one was that we both still have young families and we have been able to save a lump sum for dsd between us and pay for driving lessons etc. and we want to be able to do the same for the younger children now. Another is that we want her to understand the value of money and budget for herself. We had agreed with ex that we would all help her now and again eg. Top up her shopping card/pay a train fair/pay the odd phone bill etc. but we didn't want it to be something she would expect. She isn't a bad kid, she has been pretty good as teenagers go but she is just so frustrating at times.
One DH calms down, I know he will love and support her (emotionally) whatever she does, as will his ex and I, doesn't mean he won't be sad if he sees her struggling with rent and bills and council tax and a monotonous job I suppose.

Barbarashop Thu 23-May-13 18:13:59

Sorry, should be please read not please dad

Barbarashop Thu 23-May-13 18:15:50

Sorry, typos in there are shocking...

YouMaySayImADreamer Thu 23-May-13 20:44:06

I totally understand why he is upset, angry, and feel deceived by her pretence that she wanted to go to uni. The way she is acting though is just a sign of her immaturity and because of this its incredibly unlikely that she'll listen or change her mind if he gets angry.

I understand about your dh being worried about her throwing her life away or getting old before her time. If he is really worried, maybe he could encourage her to take some time out from doing any kind of course or training, and just get a regular job in somewhere like a shop so that she experiences what its like working 9-5 and earning money. It will give her time off to evaluate what she wants to do long term and stop her rushing into anything that will be a costly waste of time. He could even encourage her to save to go travelling, which the boyfriend if he is still around can join her in. The time away will give her time to revaluate her life and at the same time get that life experience that yoir dh wants her to have.

Slambang Thu 23-May-13 21:07:01

It may be that your dh has to grin and bear it. Does he hold academic qualifications in very high esteem? I think he may be under a few misconceptions about uni.

First - completing a degree in a creative subject such as photography (or art or drama or design or music tech) in NO WAY automatically leads to a career in that field. There are far fewer creative jobs than creative graduates and most working in these fields are self 'developed' after years of following their passion themselves in low paid or unpaid positions (or dare I say it, apprenticeships).

Second - What makes you think that she is losing the chance to go to uni for ever? If she tries the apprenticeship route and feels she's made a mistake she's in a far better position to then decide she really wants to go to uni and choose a course for the right reasons. many mature students are far more committed and successful and enjoy uni even more than their straight out of school colleagues.

Third - what makes you think an apprenticeship or not going to uni will lead to a dead-end job? After a good apprenticeship a student can end up with a good job, a useful qualification and no debt. Uni graduates end with a lifetime's debt and no guarantee that their degree will lead to employment.

And perhaps she's just scared to tell him?

Barbarashop Thu 23-May-13 23:17:20

I wrote out a long reply and stupid phone lost it!!
The crux of it was:
Youmaysay, I agree with you on all points and think some time away from study may be good for her.
Slam, I'm not sure if you read all my posts or just my op? On most points you are preaching to the converted with me. I'm not sure about apprenticeships as I kind of work in the field and they vary hugely in terms of quality and teaching useful and transferable skills. That's not to say some other kind of on-the-job training wouldn't be good - I just worry that she expects it to fall into her lap.
She isn't scared of DH - she has no reason to be and she knows that. I love her very much but she doesn't often consider the feelings of others before she speaks/acts (I'm aware this is typical teenage behaviour)
I spoke with DH tonight (he is still away) and he had calmed a lot. I have suggested a lot of the advice I have been given on here. They expect him to go off the deep end and I've said he would be better to approach it calmly and with a willingness to listen. Yes, let her know his concerns and even his upset to some extent but use it as an opportunity to show her that just as he always has been, he is there for her, he loves her and he will help and support her in trying to achieve her goals, even if he doesn't necessarily agree with her choices.
DH is not hot-headed usually, just the opposite and given these couple of days to reflect I would like to think that he'll be able to have a positive and productive discussion with her. He is the best dad that I know, everything he does is motivated by his love and concern for his family, particularly his children. He isn't perfect and sometimes finds it hard to look at something from someone else's point of view initially but he's also not afraid to think things through and gauge other opinions before he acts.
He knows that really he needs to focus on helping her rather than focusing on what she may/may not have said or done over the last couple of years - it's about her future rather than her past. He won't find it easy but I have every faith that he'll try.
Thank you for all your suggestions, I have relayed a lot of it back to DH and he does seem to be thinking in a slightly more positive light.
Wow! It was still a huge post after all that!

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