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Tough Love - Am I doing the right thing?

I have an 18 year old daughter who is a junior in high school - she's been REALLY difficult since about the age of 11 and instead of graduating this spring she repeated 8th grade so she's a year behind but agewise is older than her classmates. She has a 19 year old boyfriend and is pulling the "I'm 18 you can't tell me what to do" This has been going on a while.

She has had two jobs since the summer - each for a very short period. She cannot seem to get along with anyone to hold a job down. She does nothing around the house - NOTHING - I have to stand over her for the few simple chores she has which is ridiculous. She recently asked me if I really expected her to get up at 7 am go to school until 3, work afterschool AND do chores? Told me I was crazy if I expect that. I was flabbergasted - I raised her as a single mother all these years so she SAW how hard I worked.  That isn't the example we set in our home.  At that point I knew something had to change.

She has a horrible attitude and snotty demeanor even with the simplest of requests, is always late for school and seems entitled to have her boyfriend "sleep over" which we do not allow, so recently she said they were going to sleep in his truck in a parking lot rather than letting him drive home (he lives an hour and half away but works near us so her stance is that it is ridiculous for him to drive all the way home only to have to return a couple hours later when they've gotten in a 3 a.m.) - I was like fine, whatever sleep in a car but he isn't sleeping here. I'm not going to be bullied into letting my daughter shack up with her boyfriend of 3 months in my home.  We have told him on a couple occasions (out of sheer frustration) that he can sleep in the spare room and he ends up in her room every time with the door locked - so I feel like we tried to meet them half way and be reasonable but they disrespected our home at every turn.  We have given her NO money for months now trying to force her into having to get a job but the boyfriend always swoops in and buys her essentials.  To be clear the boyfriend HAS tried to convince her not to leave home right now (she says) and that she should be working - I don't really know him all that well but after 3 months he has her name tattooed in big letters across his back - can you say unstable?

VERY long story short - she pushed me Friday and got all pissy and said I'm moving out and I said get out - she came home from school picked up a few things and left. I told her she had a week to get her stuff and that she needed to schedule a time with me - not to just show up. After she left that day we changed the locks. She texted me today that she'll be getting her things Friday.

It makes me so sad that she has chosen to leave this way but I feel like I have done everything I can to try to teach her to be a responsible adult and just because I gave birth to her doesn't mean I am going to enable her to continue to act this way - my mother thinks I am awful as she "loves her children no matter what" (my other two siblings are 30 & 34 and STILL live at home with her, have never moved out).

I just need to get this off my chest and I guess I'm looking for some words of encouragement from moms who had difficult teens - I love her enough to let her hate me. She is just the kind of kid who I think needs to fail before she can begin to see another view of her behavior.

If she GOT a job I would let her come home with stipulations that she will adhere to our very reasonable house rules - Work, go to school, pick up after yourself - that's it. 

Any other gals out there had to give this kind of tough love with an 18 year old?

Suffering in South Florida,


Asked by 8Tinkerboo8 at 1:35 PM on Mar. 1, 2011 in Adult Children (18+)

Level 18 (5,105 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (30)
  • Yes you did the right thing we had a difficult time with my 20 year old he is straightening out now but it took seven years to get here.

    Answer by pinkdragon36 at 1:40 PM on Mar. 1, 2011

  • She made her own choice. She chose not to live in your house with your rules. I think once they get a real taste of life without the mommy/daddy cushion most of them begin to see the world in a whole different light. I think you did the right thing and I know you must be hurting but hopefully she will learn the hard truth quickly.

    Answer by meooma at 1:52 PM on Mar. 1, 2011

  • It sounds like me at that age too... And my mom dished out a lot of tough love for me. And at the time, i hated her for it. But now, my mom and i are very close, and i now fully appreciate what she did for me. he loved me so much that she didnt care if i said i hated her, or threatened to not come home...she stood her ground, never budged, and i respect her for it.
    You did the right thing mama. At this point, you just need to let her make her mistakes, and stand your ground. Like she said, she is 18, so she can start taking responsibility for herself. And if at some point, she wants to come back, just let her know that the rules have not changed, and if she doesnt plan to follow them, she cant.
    She needs to either sink or swim now. You did everything you could.
    Good luck to both of you!

    Answer by Mme.Langley at 1:52 PM on Mar. 1, 2011

  • I was absoultely disrespectful to my mom after my dad died at 16, I didn't listen to her, I didn't respect her, I yelled & screamed & was horrible to her at times. However; she wasn't the best mom either but better than other. That is no excuse though.

    I was 17 when I graduated & was legally allowed to move out. I packed my sh*t and left. It was absoultly the BEST thing ever. It made me grow up & take responibility for me. (Me & BF) We made it on our own with NO help.

    My mother & I have a much better relationship now, we're closer.



    Answer by rebel07 at 3:11 PM on Mar. 1, 2011

  • Sorry. not agreeing here. The thought of my child sleeping in a truck would scare me to death. Do you watch the news? And so she doesnt have a job. Most kids dont in high school. I didnt. And you mention her boyfriend buys her essentials? Well you im sorry, jsut cause your child hits the 18 year mark doesnt mean you stop doing wht your supposed to. You are the one who brought her in this world remember. What she needs is guidance. Maybe incorporating her bf into family activities and getting to know him. Invite the both of them to dinner... I understand the meaning of tough love but to me it doesnt sound like shes done much more than be a typical rebellious teen. They like boys, hate school, theyre lazy, etc. Try harder. When it comes down to your kids, you always try harder. And if "shes been really difficult since the age of 11" thats not her fault. Things should have been done THEN to prevent the behavior from worsening!

    Answer by JDmommyJD at 9:06 AM on Mar. 2, 2011

  • You did the right thing, the reality is, she IS 18 and DOESN'T have to obey you. The other reality is it is YOUR HOME and YOU can set the standards in your home. She has made her choice. She will come to regret that choice and the hope is that this helps grow her up instead of leading to other bad choices. YOU didnt force this on her, SHE took the gift of home and family and walked away.

    As a mother of 9 (ages 27-7) I will say EVERYDAY that parenting toddlers is EASIER than parenting adult children (because believe me you don't stop being a mom when they turn 18)

    Answer by pammomof9 at 10:32 AM on Mar. 2, 2011

  • WoW.... that sounds like me when I was he age..... I managed to make it on my own but I regret leaving and not getting a long better with my mom, also going to college really sucked while living on my own, I wish there was something that can be said but if she is like me she will not even try to see your point of view and there is nothing anyone can say to change her way of thinking because she is right and you are not. I just hope she doesn't drop out of school or get knocked up, that would really suck. I had my first son at 20 and I love him to pieces but it has been so hard. I wish you the best of luck.

    Answer by MelissaAnn224 at 1:45 PM on Mar. 1, 2011

  • wow mommy you did the wright thing don't worry she will be okay maybe she needs to live on here own to really appreciate you good luck

    Answer by FIVEHAPPYHEARTS at 1:45 PM on Mar. 1, 2011

  • If she refuses to abide by your rules and you have no leverage to force her to do so, I don't see that you have any other choice other than to let her go it on her own. There is the possibility that she will realize how much has been done for her and that she will want to come home. There are also no guarantees that that will happen, but I think you are right to draw a line.

    Answer by NannyB. at 1:45 PM on Mar. 1, 2011

  • no...but i was your daughter at one time. you say that maybe she should fail before she realizes. How hard should she fall? teen girls can do really stupid stupid things. prostitute, drugs, get themselves pregnant...then what? if you found out your 18 year old daughter was pregnant and this bf left would you still not help her? or what if you found out she was selling her body in order to keep food in her stomache and help pay for gas to sleep in his truck? just questions..things could be worse for her and you. I know some people do not believe in allowing their nearly grown children to be grown..but it is going to happen. Why not let it happen, and just have some rules. It would be less heartache and probably better choices being made on your daughters behalf.

    Answer by shay1130 at 1:47 PM on Mar. 1, 2011