runaway 18 years old daughter
Dear Dr. Bradley,
Me and my husband are in very tough situation now. Our daughter decided to move out to her friends apartment in the end of her school graduation ( 3 more weeks left).
Me and my husbands are both russian immigrants, been living in US for 16 years, both engineers with master degree. We were raising our daughter to explore different activities like music. tennis, theather, vocal. As loved to travel, we took our daughter to many places in Europe and Caribbeans to see many things and cultures. I got my second MBA degree last year ago, and my daughter witnesses how studying can help to achieve all of these good things she has right now around her.
She never express any particular interest in any activities, and finally just quit them. All of her passion was into communication with her friends and nothing else.
Our relationships started to heat for very long time, she put herself in the danger of failing a few classes in school and after refusing to get any help with tutor and continue not performing well ( missed home work, Fs for exams) We have started to increase control on her like chatting with teachers on weekly bases, checking her progress, asking her not to go to see her best friend ( who is even in worsen situation) and making bad influence on her.
The last thing that pissed her of completely was my call to her best girlfriend mother and best friend and expressing my will not to let them communicate and blocking the BF phone and text messaging.
She took her stuff while we were out of the house, post on facebook that she was kicked out and went to her other friend's home, explaining that we put so much stress on her that she can't graduate school and can't deal with us anymore.
She does not ask us for money, wants to work more hours in pizza ( for now she worked just 4 hours on friday) so she can support herself.
Me and my husband met her a few times for conversation, where we begged to return just to finish school and then she can move out, but she is extremely angry so the conversations did not go well.
After we offered her money award ( 4 months paid rent about $1000) if she would graduate school and bring us her school diploma.
she said she is going to do it anyway but said thanks. For next day she missed whole school day.
At this point we don't know what strategy to choose: let her be alone and after all emotions will settle down to realize what she is missing, or try to continue to communicate with her like nothing happened ( which is extremly hard for me, i am starting to cry or trying to make her some pain ( for example when she asked me to give her $50 i have refused it and said that it her adult life and she should not ask for money, if she wants to be independent, in return she asked me to return her her mother's day gift - Tiffany necklace ( $200) she bought on her salary for me, so she would return it to store to get money, i have return the necklace, but overreacted and broke the chain, which pissed her of completely) - i am not perfect too.
I am crying everyday she left, and barely sleep at night, my husband trying to keep himself together, but also in the high risk to loose himself completely.
Please advice what should we do
Thank you so much.
First, I need you guys to take a deep breath and remember how strong and resilient you are to have accomplished so many difficult things in your lives. You need to view this chapter of your life with your daughter as just another challenge which you will also handle.
Next, in order to build a bridge, apologize to her for two things. First, give her the money she would have gotten for the necklace if it wasn't damaged. Tell her that you are upset with yourself for reacting that way. Next, apologize for cutting her off from her best friend, and tell her that was a mistake to have made with an 18-year-old. Remember that your apologies should be one-sided admmissions of failure, not things to be linked to her own failures.
Finally, tell her that you guys have realized that you're not parenting an 18-year-old very well and that you'd like her to join you in some family counseling to learn to do better at the "business of family." Don't press her for an immediate answer but ask her to think that over for awhile. Try not to get panicked over her not finishing school right now since it is more important to keep a connection with her than to get her into school tomorrow. MOST OF ALL, begin and end each conversation with the phrase, "We love you and are worried for you." She's likely got her parents' resilience and drive within her and will do fine if you don't lose your connection with her heart.
Dr. Mike Bradley
My heart goes out to you and your husband, as only a parent going through a similar situation can. I struggle too, with trying to stay in touch and or just letting go and waiting to see if in time our daughter will come around. I think the answer is somewhere in the middle. Letting go, but when she touches base to be open to communicating in love. Our daughter has been gone for 103 days and is involved with a very controlling boyfriend who does not want her in school or to see any of her friends or family. He has taken her across state lines, where she knows no one... I'm so worried and concerned. I am very open to any suggestions and wanted to know if your daugher has come around yet?! I pray that she has and that she is back in school! My daughter ranaway before her Senior year began and has not attended one day of class this year, at least not yet! But I agree with Dr. Mike, that I need to let that go and focus more on restoring our relationship. School will be there for her when she is ready.
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