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Teen Daughter's Boyfriend Thwarting College Plans

By April 23, 2010

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Mom on the forum seeks advice: My daughter is on her way to college In January. She is 18. Her boyfriend is 22. He's at the same college. She will be going away to school. Her father and I are divorced yet we are both paying her way. Her boyfriend has been in residence for one year, and next year he is looking at getting his own place. He has convinced her to live with him. I think this is a crazy move. She has already started thinking about moving away six months early to work in the local vicinity of the school and to start "saving up" money for when she starts. She has talked about "setting up house" and "getting a cat in addition to other pets".

Her focus is not on what it should be - her getting a college education, and looking to be independent and meeting new friends BEFORE she gets all serious in a common-law relationship with her boyfriend. I feel he is clingy and trying to sidetrack her plans. I feel she is caught between "having someone other than me - to take care of her" and "feeling independent by going away to school".

Her mind has not been on finding a summer job locally. her mind is not on doing her absolute best at school. These are the days that are memory -making, and I feel she is depriving herself of a unique opportunity to explore the world by limiting herself to living with him - instead of residence, or in a dorm with other girls her age.

She's 18 and I can't stop her but what do other teens AND parents think about this?

Denise's thoughts: "I had a daughter in a similar situation last year. She also floated the idea of getting an apartment by me. I told her she could, but I would not be paying for school or the apartment. I simply know that school is about learning and I want her in the best place to do that learning if I am footing any of the bill. Treat your daughter like she is an adult and give her all of the options then let her make her choices."

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Asking our parenting community: Have you had a high school student who wanted to jump into a relationship right after high school? Has your teen's friend ever thwarted their plans? Please share your experiences, thoughts and advice.

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April 23, 2010 at 9:42 am
(1) Judy says:

I know this may sound critical of the parents & I don’t mean to be; however, what do you mean that she’s 18 & there’s nothing you can do? You can tell her (& mean it) that as long as you’re paying for her education there are some stipulations, and NOT living with the boyfriend is one. You expect her to live in a dorm and focus on learning/education and setting up housekeeping is not the main focus. If she still wants it her way, fine, then pay for school/living yourself. She is NOT independent, as long as someone/anyone else is paying her bills, including school.

April 23, 2010 at 10:03 am
(2) Cheryl says:

I like Denise’s response. It respects and acknowledges that your daughter is 18 and of legal age. It also in a kind and loving way, demonstrates that you as parents are responsible and level headed. She still may not do what you want, but you have set the correct boundaries for both her and you. Letting our barely adult children make their own mistakes and learn from them is the hardest transition in parenting. Allowing her to make this decision, even if she makes one that will make her path more difficult, tells her you have faith in her ability to manage her life and that you are able to manage yours. That is perhaps the best gift of all.

April 23, 2010 at 12:21 pm
(3) Kay says:

What kids this age just don’t get is that no matter how perfect their guy/ gal seems at the moment, at such a young age this probably isnt’ the person they will be with for the long haul. Unfortunately sometimes they just have to find out for themselves. At 18 you can tell your daughter you won’t pay for college but this may likely make her rebel and be all the more for living with the boyfriend. My advise would be to encourage her to live in the dorm at least for the first semester; by then the relationship might naturally just fade out on its own. People change alot their first year in college. My own daughter found out suddenly after first semester freshman year that her boyfriend of 3 years was much less mature than she thought and she was ready to move on. I did like this guy by the way; but they were both too immature to be so serious. She realizes this now, and there is a whole new world of people and experiences open to your daughter when she goes to college. Try to talk to her reasonably about this and encourage the dorm idea; some schools require you live on campus first year anyway.

April 23, 2010 at 1:08 pm
(4) Cynthia says:

I agree with Kay……try and reason with her.

April 24, 2010 at 8:23 pm
(5) Celeste says:

This is a huge issue in my house. My step children do not want to live in our house because I have ridiculous expectations (like keeping their rooms clean and doing the dishes occasionally). They were enabled by their grandparents; the oldest (who is a senior in high school) goes to school in our county (as if she were living with us) and lives with the grand parents, who have threatened physical harm and police harrassment to my husband if he picks his own children up(grandfather on wife’s side is a police officer) . The daughter only comes to our house when she wants money. She has expressed a desire to go to college, but has made no effort to that end. She plans on living with sister of her boyfriend in a house that is about 40min from school she will be attending. I told him that we should not participate in that manipulative, out-of-control behavior. She needs to show efforts she is making to get into school, and to make money for school. She needs to focus on school instead of the boyfriend; living on campus, at least initially. I agree with other responses on this site. Sure, you’re 18 and you can do what you want; but if you expect us to pay for it, you will do it in such a manner that you won’t flunk out the first semester! (the boyfriend flunked out his first year and is attending a community college)

April 26, 2010 at 1:43 am
(6) Mpopi Kgaodi says:

I tend to agree with Denise, your daughter’s priorities are quite mixed up. What you need to do is unpack them for her, she cannot leave with a boyfriend and study at the same time. either she goes to college, which will mean focus mainly on her education or staying with her boyfriend who would have to pay her fees incase she is still interested in college. I know it will be difficult to do this but it has to be done otherwise you may just be wasting your money. get her dad involved too.

April 26, 2010 at 9:16 pm
(7) Elin Stebbins Waldal says:

A couple of things jump out at me in what the writer has shared. To begin with there is the main issue which is whether or not to support a young adult financially if she chooses to cohabitate with her boyfriend. Then there is the hidden issue; a young adult who has a boyfriend who is “thwarting the college plan.”

From my perspective there is more in the hidden portion of this posting than the issue of who pays for what. There are several things that really jump out at me in this note and they are as follows:
-He has convinced her to live with him.
-He is clingy and trying to sidetrack her plans.
-Her mind has not been on finding a summer job locally.
-Her mind is not on doing her absolute best at school.

I am a writer and a speaker whose primary topic is dating abuse, there are numerous signs that well intentioned people miss because they are focused on an issue (in this case college.) The parents would be well advised to look at just how dramatic the changes that are taking place with their daughter are. So for example the mom states that ‘her mind is not on doing her absolute best in school.’ Does that mean falling grades or lack of interest? How pronounced are those changes from where she was prior to the boyfriend? Her mind is not on getting a summer job. Is that different from years past or is this a pattern she is continuing but now she wants to relocate too.

The boyfriend “convinced her to live with him.” In what ways did he convince her? Is he asserting control over her in the situation? These are questions only the child and parent can answer. The boyfriend is “clingy and side tracking plans,” In what way? Is he texting/calling 24/7 and preventing her from spending time with friends? Or is he needy and simply telling her he misses her more than the parent thinks is necessary. Is he telling her college is unimportant and her goals don’t matter? Or is he hoping for a roommate to help foot the bill with an eye on getting an education as the primary goal.

In my estimation the parents would be well advised to direct their daughter to an on-line survey where she (the daughter) can take an objective look at her relationship. So often young people enter into relationships with little to no understanding of what a healthy relationship looks like. The mother herself questions whether her daughter is just looking for someone to take care of her-thus demonstrating her daughters’ vulnerability. http://www.thesafespace.org/pop-quiz/quiz-is-your-relationship-healthy/

Often the main issue becomes all encompassing and it is difficult to step back and remember she is still only 18. She needs guidance; I like the respondents’ idea of “unpacking” the situation for the daughter, but while unpacking ask questions and help her really see the “contents” of her decisions.

Last, as a parent I would support the tuition but not the living situation-the end in mind is that the daughter receive an education and ultimately be self supporting. Denying her the education takes the eye off the end goal-true independence. If she can juggle a job, school, social life, and support her own living arrangement paying her tuition seems worth every penny to really get her to that independent state.

April 27, 2010 at 4:21 pm
(8) Art says:

You have to realize that her being 18 yrs of age she can make her own decisions, however she is not an adult until she becomes responsible enough to understand what is best for her.

In this day and age, an 18 yr old is not an adult, they become an adult when they begin to show maturity. So speak to her and lay the rules if you intend to support her financially, then let her decide.

May 14, 2010 at 12:47 pm
(9) Farahani Mukisa says:

I sympathise our collegue for moment she undergoing through with her daughter. But one thing parents always forget in life, that not all the time thier youths will often conceed to thier ideas and must be at it throughout.
My word will simply be that as long as this daughter of yours can still study whilst with her boyfriend, call the her boyfriend and talk to them altogether. And if the boy happens to attend to your call then know he is responsible enough to take on your wise counselling na dI must say these two can live a better life till your daughter completes her studies, afterall she will have to get married, do you want play the boy girl games while at your home ao even at school fooling around that she is studying while not? yes because she can do that too! Thanks

September 1, 2010 at 6:39 pm
(10) Pete says:

Great post! I find the difficulties and enjoyment of meeting your family member’s boyfriends or girlfriends to be fascinating. It seems there\’s always growing pains whether you like them or not, but it\’s much more difficult when you don\’t. I’d love to read more on this topic.

I recently read this blog that I thought added some insight into the issue and was enjoyable: http://burisonthecouch.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/family-member-dating/

I’d love to see more like it. Thanks!


January 16, 2011 at 7:20 pm
(11) Enaide says:

At 18, they are junior adults, not adults, that’s the first thing I’d like to say. Second, most colleges require freshman to live in the dorms. Third, if all else fails, it’s your money, not hers, make sure she understands and respects that.

December 14, 2011 at 3:16 pm
(12) nikon s8100 says:

I’m impressed, I must say. Really rarely do I encounter a blog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the issue is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this in my search for something relating to this.

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