I have a beautiful daughter who turns 20 this week. She has a lot going for her. She is a gifted musician, currently studying at university and working part-time as well. She is beautiful and extroverted but paradoxically has low self-esteem stemming partly from childhood weight issues which she has managed to overcome magnificently. The one (huge) blot on the landscape is a relationship which I have come to feel is bad for her. She has been going out with a 26 year old man for over a year. She is in love with him but at the same time complains a great deal about him, only to start defending him if I, or anyone else, starts to tell her that her complaints do have some basis in fact. This is her first really serious relationship, but as far as I can see, it is not a happy one. They row a lot, he has a habit of getting jealous, then drunkenly abandoning her on nights out. The last time this happened was Saturday night. My husband and I came home from an evening out to find her sobbing, on her knees in the hallway, after another row where he abandoned her (although she was not left alone as they had been out with friends). She was determined to go out and find him even though he had told her to get away from him. We refused to drive her around town searching from him, so distressed and alone she searched for him herself. I kept in touch with her by phone to make sure she was safe, but was not about to go on this crazy wild goose chase. There have been other incidents like this, usually involving him having drunk too much, but on this occasion she was drinking too. She came home without him. Next day she was pretty miserable. I as much as said what I have hinted at before, that I think this relationship is bad for her. (Her father also feels strongly that this is wrong for her). She then sort of picked an argument with us which we did
not rise too but pulled back to give her some space. We decided to go out to clear our heads for an hour, as we were both still distressed by the state we had found our daughter in when she came home the night before. When we came back home, of course the boyfriend was there and everything is hunky dory again till the next time! This guy did not do well in his degree course, as he was too lazy to work hard at it, and is now in a dead end 6 month job. He has nothing to offer my daughter, yet she is in thrall to him. She is usually so sensible, and I am so worried that she is going to proceed with a relationship and maybe have children with this man who we feel in our bones is no good for her. I have reserved judgement for a year, my doubts increasingly growing with each incident but now I have no further doubt. It is hard to be a bystander in this situation. This morning I feel angry with my daughter for being so foolish. She lives with her father and myself at home and he stays over at the weekends. I have never felt overly comfortable with this set-up, much less so now that I'm convinced that its not a good move for her to stay in this relationship. I want to tell her to wake up and smell the roses, and I will tell her this, but how far do I go? I am minded to say I don't want him coming to our house or staying over any more, but she may then move out and set up with him! I don't want to push her deeper into something I feel is bad for her. My husband and I both know we are fairly helpless here in terms of whether she stays with him or not, but how do I prevent it contaminating my relationship with her? We were due to go out next week to celebrate her birthday with this chap, but now I do not feel I can stand to be in the same room as him. My husband is also concerned, but I think not quite as (overwhelmed?) as me by this problem. Am I right to be so angry with her? Most of all, she never saw me being treated in this way by her father (who adores her and the feeling is mutual). So why does she accept this kind of treatment from anyone? Do we need to set up more boundaries with our daughter? After all, she dragged this problem into the home. She uses our home to be with him at weekends. Do we grit our teeth and say, fine, if you wish to continue with him, just now in our vicinity! I do want to support her, but not to support her to do ruin her life by wasting any more time on this guy.