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19 Year Old Daughter In Abusive Relationship

Question:

My 19 year old daughter, living at home with two parents & a younger brother, is in a mentally abusive relationship. She has given up ALL outside activities, friends, relationships. She is currently enrolled in community college, but I fully expect that to end shortly. Her boyfriend is extremely controlling – she goes nowhere, sees no one but him. He has always been welcomed into our home, but comes rarely. She goes to him. They fight constantly. What can I do?

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Answer:

The extremely difficult answer to your question is that there is nothing you can do to help your daughter. I assume you have already expressed your doubts to her about the boy friend. However, if you lecture her, give her orders or harp on the topic you run the risk of creating a rift between the two of you that could have long lasting negative consequences for your relationship.

The most difficult thing a parent must do is allow their older adolescent make their own mistakes without interfering. An interfering parent will be accused of being controlling and infantilizing by their young adult children. If she is allowed to suffer the consequences of being with this young man she will learn a lot more than by anything you can say and that she will rebel against. If she and the boyfriend fight constantly that is there business. Hopefully, she will get sick of it and end the relationship. However, this must be her decision based on what she wants and pleasing herself rather than her parents or family.

We all want what is best for our children but none of us are omnipotent and none of us can control what our young people will do when they are past a certain age. She is past that age and she will do what she wants regardless of how the rest of us feel.

It is really important for you to try not to worry or think about her friends and her college education. You need to focus on your life and not that of your adult daughter. As the Serenity Prayer states:

"Lord, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The strength to things I can change and

The wisdom to know the difference between the two."

At age 19 your daughter’s choices are among those things you cannot change. All you can do is hope she learns from her errors, like the rest of us, and decides to make changes when she is ready.

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