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What To Do With A Dysfunctional Past

Question:

Dr. Allen, I am struggling with a 22 year old daughter who just had a baby out of wedlock is living with a drug dealing 19 year old. Her father and I are divorced and she has always been very hateful toward her father. I had a confrontation with her boyfriend before she had the baby and now she wants nothing to do with me. She had her father in with her when she delivered and is going to his house all the time. She is even interfering with the vistitation rights her father has with her 14 year old brother. She thinks her brother should live with her father. What should I do?

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Answer:

This is why mothers should never get into arguments with their daughter’s boy friends. Unfortunately, most of us parents are left feeling helpless when we see our sons and daughters making bad decisions and ruining their lives. However, the argument already occurred and all you can do is swallow your pride and try to speak to the boy friend in an attempt to heal that relationship and the relationship with your daughter. The fact that the boy friend is a drug dealer is nothing you can do anything about except hope that one day the police get on to him. In the meantime you need to connect with your daughter and your grandchild. The only way I see that happening is if you mend things with the 19 year old boy friend. As long as your daughter keeps you out of the picture by not talking to you, she has power to manipulate and distort things. In fact, you become the "bad parent" and your ex husband becomes the "good parent." Stop this, apologize to the boy friend and re establish connections between you and her. 

As far as the interrelations between your daughter, son and ex husband, the only practical approach is to speak to your Ex and find a way to cope with the children you both have. At present, your son and daughter are playing you and their father off against each other. You and your ex need to stop that from happening.

I know it can be difficult for divorced people to communicate with each other but, when there are children, there is no other way. I can well imagine that you and your ex husband have a lot of "water under the bridge." Yet, couples must find a way to cooperate for the sake of the children. Now, I understand that these are older children, but, they will always be your "children." Only by working together can the two of you prevent either your son or daughter from manipulating.

By the way, at age 14 there is nothing much anyone can do about "visiting rights" in the sense that your son will do what he wants regardless of what anyone, even his sister, says. Of course, it makes sense to talk to your son about all of this and allow him to tell you his side of the story.

I really want to encourage you to mend your relationship with your daughter for your sake, hers and the baby’s sake as well.

 You cannot change a dysfunctional past, but, you can become a functional family in the present.

Best of Luck

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