07-15-2017 09:55 AM - edited 07-15-2017 09:56 AM
My 17 year old daughter has been going out with her current boyfriend for about 2-3 months. I do not like him. His parents are lovely, and he has a part time job which are big positives, however he has caused my daughter so much hurt and distress. He has blamed her for things she has not done, and is not always nice to her. He sent an abusive and disgraceful message to her the other night when she was trying to explain something important to him. Then I had to listen to her apologise to this guy about 50 times because he was angry. I was so mad listening to her grovel for his forgiveness - I told her to stop apologising. She knows that he is not "right" for her and in her mind knows he is not the one for her, but she adores him and says she loves him. He makes her happy (but also equally unhappy). They both suffer from mental health issues. My daughter receives treatment and professional support for her issues. He is not getting any professional support, although his family has encouraged him to do so. Due to the mental health issues they both suffer, everything quickly escalates and gets out-of-control, which is very negative for my daughters health (and his too). I want her to break up with him, but don't want to come out and say it. She has to make that decision herself and I don't want her to look back and blame me if the relationship was to end. She knows that both my husband and myself do not agree with the relationship, and are not keen on this guy. Anyone got any suggestions?
07-15-2017 11:39 AM
Hi @Zoesplace I can understand your concern for your daughter in this situation. It's a bit tricky for a few reasons, one of which being both your daughter and her boyfriend have mental health issues. In that scenario, it can be very difficult to distinguish from what is 'workable' and what isn't. A big concern is that her boyfriend isn't getting the help he needs for his issues.
I'm not sure how your relationship is like with your daughter currently. It sounds like you are able to talk to her which is great!
Your daughter is getting some core needs of affection and positive reinforcement met through this relationship (when she isn't unhappy with him). She will benefit from continuing to get that from you, her parents as well. By pointing out how the relationship isn't right for her and her boyfriend's flaws (even if done subtly), will quite likely make the relationship and boyfriend even more appealing. The only thing you have control over is your interaction with her. Engaging in a loving, positive manner with her and encouraging her to get involved in her passions and hobbies (or trying something new if she's already pretty involved in some activities) will maybe help her see that she has support and love in her life other than the romantic relationship she's in. What do you think?
07-15-2017 11:55 AM
That's a tricky one. You know as soon as you say "I don't like him" he is suddenly 100% more attractive!
I guess I'd keep trying to model the behaviour you expect, and perhaps see if you can subtly get her to see good behaviour in her peers relationships too. Hopefully it will occur to her that her relationship is not as healthy as it should be.
I sound very rational saying that, but the primitive Dad in me would want to lock her away in a high tower in the forest Good luck keeping your cool.
07-15-2017 03:23 PM
Hey @Zoesplace, that must be so hard watching your daughter not living up to her true worth in this relationship. I'm not at the stage of dealing with boyfriends yet, and I worry how I'd react in your situation. I'm mum and dad, so like @Schooner, locking her up in a tower in the forest sounds like a good plan!
As @Mona-RO said, it's great that you're able to talk with your daughter about it and support her through the hurtful times, but it must be so hard to hold your tongue. I wonder why he won't get help for his mental health issues? Do you or your daughter know what he thinks about the professional help she is getting?
07-15-2017 04:05 PM
I agree that my daughter will continue to see her boyfriend, even if I tell her not to. Luckily, we have a really good relationship and I am able to talk to her about almost anything. I have tried to focus on his behaviour, and highlight what I feel is appropriate and what is not acceptable, rather than tell her that I don't like him (although I think she knows this). I will continue to educate her on what a healthy relationship should be, and hopefully she will make the right decision.
07-15-2017 04:43 PM
07-15-2017 05:32 PM - edited 07-15-2017 05:34 PM
Hi @Zoesplace , so sorry to hear about your daughter being caught in this verbally abusive situation . As a parent this must be so painful for you . I'd want to knock his block off and my husband ... well we won't even go there .
It's so common in relationships to blur the boundaries between what is acceptable and not acceptable behaviour over time . Especially when you have been in a gradually deteriorating relationship for a while , or are just discovering who you are as a young adult , learning to navigate the world and deciding who you are . Teens are vulnerable because they still don't have the life experience to recognise when they are being manipulated or treated with disrespect. It can be a learning curve of a whole lotta hurt before the penny drops and they get indignant and self protective . Using our head rather than our heart is hard at the best of times , even more so for a developing teen . Learning to ask themselves the hard questions and then acting on them takes courage , support and self pride . I am so glad you and her Dad are there for her .
I agree with what everyone has suggested so far . I would add another possibility?
Get her some books on what abusive relationships look like .
There is one called " But he never hit me " by Jill Murray . It's specifically for teen girls . There are plenty of others if that one is too expensive , just google : books teen girls abusive relationships .
Rather than tell her she is in one , ask her what she expects from a relationship ?
Ask her how good relationships are supposed to feel .
Tell her what was important to you in a relationship when you were younger .
Tell her about the reasons you love her Dad .
Tell her what you would not put up with and what felt wrong to you as a dating teen or young woman .
Discuss with her that often women can be unsure of what is ok / not ok and that they sacrifice their self worth sometimes to stay with someone who is only lovely , some of the time .
Discuss with her that arguing is ok and normal but any put downs , abusive language, name calling and emotional manipulation such as " if you loved me you'd ..,, " are all not acceptable EVER . Tell her how this can erode at a woman's self esteem over time and that domestic violence is on a spectrum , and sometimes the escalation can be insidious and incremental until a woman can feel trapped and helpless overtime .
This can all be explored in a discussion with you and her Dad in such a way that she does not feel you are telling her what to do but that you are nutting out thoughts and ideas on what she is entitled to get from her relationship with all people not just this boyfriend .
Maybe suggest the book after you have had this discussion . Tell her you don't want to force her out of this relationship ( this would prove almost impossible and certainly cause a rift ) but you would like her to be well armed and well informed about her needs , boundaries and expectations in ANY relationship she Is in .
Best of luck ! Let us know how you go 😊
07-15-2017 11:54 PM
Thank you @motherbear I will definitely look up those books. Both my husband and I have certainly felt like knocking his block off!!!
I told my daughter that if he ever treats her with such disrespect and attacks her via text (or in any way) again that he will not be welcome in our home - I will not stand by and watch someone treat her like that. She accepts this, as she knows it is not ok. It has only been a few months into the relationship, and already there are signs of mistrust, jealousy, accusations, control and now lashing out at her via text message. Not a healthy good start to a relationship
However, we have a breakthrough tonight. My daughter did not ask to see her boyfriend today, and did not even mention his name once. This was a big deal, so I thought something was going on. Tonight she told him that things need to change, and it was not ok to send her that message and she will not be treated like that again. Our conversations must be slowly starting to make her realise that this is not what a healthy relationship looks like. She does not want to break up with him, because she loves him and wants him to change. It took a lot of courage for her to do that - this will make her a stronger person and hopefully she can eventually make the right decision about the relationship. I am really interested in the what the books say that @motherbear has mentioned.