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proexpert37, Educator/Life Coach
Category: Parenting
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My husband and I are constantly at odds when it comes to dealing

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My husband and I are constantly at odds when it comes to dealing with his 21 year-old daughter from a previous marriage. I'll call her Sarah. She finished high school but never went to college. She's been working a job at the mall --- about 18 hours per week. She doesn't have any money and claims she can't find another part time job. We both agree that she is not trying hard enough. She's smart, beautiful, articulate, and presents well but she lacks drive and the smarts to figure out how to get a job. (Baltimore does not have a depressed economy. There are plenty of jobs if you try.)

My husband and I both work long hours and have successful professional careers. We have tried to set a good example for her and she knows how hard we both work. On the otherhand her mother works blue collar jobs, paycheck to paycheck, and is often out of work.

I have been saying Sarah just needs more time to grow up and learn that life is easier when you work hard and earn a decent salary. My husaband thinks we need to force her to go to school (of course we pay the tuition). I think you can't force anyone to go to school and if you try, you are just going to waste your money. BTW, we signed her up and paid for beauty school that she didn't attend and then Microsoft Office class at the community college that she didn't attend.

Most recently, the car that was loaned to her to 'have' was totaled in an accident that was not her fault. She's now without a car so she takes taxi's (she can't afford) to work. How's she dealing with this current problem? She's in NYC with her boyfriend having fun.

Any suggestions?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 4 years ago.
Is your main concern how to make her "grow up" and be more responsible?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Yes. I want to know what I can do to help her work harder so she can have a better life. My husband is really stressed over it. We hardly ever arge about anything except how to deal with her and her problems.
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 4 years ago.
What was she like in high school? Has she always been like this?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
She was very lazy in high school. She never had a job. She would lay around the house all weekend. She didn't play any sports (even though I and her mother both played all kinds of sports and to this day we are both very active people). I even offered her singing lessons and horse back riding lesses when she was younger. No interest. She does love to read. She's happy laying around all weekend reading. She's not at all overweight and recently her boyfriend has been getting her out biking and to the gym. At one point about 2 years ago she saw a counselor (social worker) who said she was depressed. She denies that she's depressed and won't go to the doctor or for any further counseling. Her boyfriend does not think she's depressed and you would think he would know.
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 4 years ago.
Hello and Thank You for responding. Who does Sarah primarily live with? Sometimes it may be necessary to implement tough love. That means if she does not abide by your requests and the house rules, she must find another place to stay. By providing her with everything as a capable adult that she is, you are only enabling her to continue to use you. Provide her with a deadline of no longer than 6 months to find another job and or enroll in school. Ask her what she wants in life. Have her write down a plan. She must set goals. Do not settle for a lazy adult child. Make her work around the house at least. She can even start volunteering in a hospital or even at a school just to keep busy band get out if the house. She can make a difference in the lives of others and will in turn feel better about herself.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

She lived with us for several months and we did kick her out because not only would she not get a FT job, she crashed my car and didn't apologize. Now she rents a room for $100 a month at her grandmothers house. Its close to her work. She does seem to care about her current job.


We have talked about her goals and she does have 'dreams' to become a fashion buyer or a high end makeup artist. But it's difficult to become anything when you don't want to work for it.


We would like to implement some tough love but we don't know how when she is not getting anything from us. The most we do for her is give her money occassionally for her phone bill or gas and I sometimes buy her fresh fruit to eat because she can't afford it.


She is still covered on my health insurance which isn't free but I don't think allowing her to stay on my health insurance is enabiling.


How can we implement tough love when we really don't have any leverage over her?

Expert:  proexpert37 replied 4 years ago.
Keep her on the health insurance but keep your distance from her for a while. You have already tried talking to her. She must now want to change on her own accord. She will discover that life is harder than she thought. Maybe Grandma needs to implement the kicking out of the house policy if she is not more proactive in her life decisions. She probably gets away with a lot with Grandma. Why try any harder than she is doing. She has a place to live. She has food. She has few responsibilities. It may be the best route that Grandma tell her that she either needs to go back to counseling, get a job or go back to school or else she must leave. There really are no other alternatives because Sarah is so set in her ways and not thinking much about her future. She is probably also caught up with running around with her boyfriend that she could care less about anything else. If the boyfriend seems to have a good head on his shoulders, maybe you can talk to him to see if he can break through to Sarah as well.
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