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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5839
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My daughter is 20 yrs. old and is a Jr. away at college. We

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My daughter is 20 yrs. old and is a Jr. away at college. We suspect she's in a controlling,manipulative relationship with a boy she has been dating for 18 mos. We've expressed our concernsto her about his behavior &she makes excuses for him. She told him we're not fond of him which caused him to message me on FB defending his behavior. Last summer before she left for a semester abroad he asked to come to our house to visit before she left for a semester abroad. We agreed to a 3 day visit in the beginning of the week.He then asked to come back on Friday. We told my daughter no, because we were having a family party for both she & my son before they left. The boy then sent back her HS ring with a note I've since found on her dresser which stated "We cannot have a relationship until your parents lose their deathgrip on you". This note has alarmed us & it seems our suspicions might be correct. We have not told her we found the note. Don't want her to push us away.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

It is understandable that you are concerned for your daughter. You want her to be safe and if this boy seems suspicious to you, then expressing your concerns to your daughter is certainly a good thing to do.

However, although you do want to keep an eye on the situation, your daughter is going to have to judge this relationship for herself. Unless you have any direct evidence of her being abused, stalked or otherwise hurt, she is free to see this boy. Now that does not mean you are not going to worry. That is understandable. It also does not mean there aren't things you can do to help her.

One, talk with her about your concerns again. Let her know that you suspect there may be more to this boy than meets the eye. Tell her you are concerned, but that you know she is an adult so it is up to her as to what happens with the relationship.

Two, let her know that you are there for her anytime. Tell her to call day or night if she needs to. Do not give her scenarios like, "if he hits you call me" but leave it general when you make the offer. You do not want her to feel you don't like her boyfriend and that you are alarmed about the relationship. If she feels you might overreact, she may not be willing to turn to you if something does happen.

Three, stay in touch with her as much as is reasonable. Visit her at school get to know her other friends as well. Do not go behind her back and talk to her friends about her relationship but knowing other people in her life is a good way to help her. Her friends may feel safe contacting you if they see something out of sorts. Just be sure to maintain your daughter's trust.

Otherwise, you will have to let her make her own decisions about her relationships. She may make mistakes, but she will learn. And with supportive parents, she will always have a backup if she does have problems.

I hope this has helped you,

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi Kate,
Thank you for your reponse. It was helpful to receive a professional opinion. I've already have done alot of the things you've suggested., especially trying to keep good open and honest communication with my daughter. She is 20 and away at college after all. However,my husband is very upset about the "deathgrip" description and he feels it shows this boy's attempt to control our daughter--probably a typical father's response. I have not mentioned anything about finding this note which was on top of her dresser. My husband feels we should discuss the fact we've seen the note and discuss his attempts to control her. Our relationship is very good with her and I believe discussing this particular note, although distressing to us, can backfire and put her more in the boy's court. Your opinion would help us. Thank you.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

It might be a good idea that you not discuss the note with your daughter. In this situation, you should weigh keeping the trust of your daughter with her ability (and yours) to understand that the comment her boyfriend made is just that, a comment. It is his opinion and that is all. She is your daughter and at this point, he is only a boyfriend. If he would become more than a boyfriend, then the comment would become more of an issue.

If you chose to mention the note, then she will know you not only looked in her room, but read her personal note. She may react badly to finding this out and chose to not share as much with you about her situation. It is a risk and you have to decide if it is worth it, especially if she ends up defending her boyfriend like she did before and your concern does not have an impact on her. You do not want her to side more with her boyfriend and start to see you as he sees you right now.


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