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Panicked father

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Casual scribe
hotwired

Panicked father

I don’t know what to do. My 20 year old daughter has ADHD and probably has some “side conditions”.

Background: I had her with a mentally ill woman who is now a disabled (alcoholism) sociopath with many issues (bipolar, etc.). I managed to gain sole custody when she was younger and have been raising her with my wife of 20 years since she was 6 months old. We’ve given her unyielding structure and discipline. Not “uptight rigid” but “here’s the rules, here’s the consequences if you break them”. We got her on medication when she was younger after teachers made it clear there was something truly amiss. We got her involved with horses and she rode competitively all her childhood.

Daughter was largely “normal” except for some behavioral issues that caused concerned inquiries from teachers and a lack of social life for her. So we helicoptered and sheltered. She attended a small informal Catholic School until 6th grade (but informal I mean no nuns with rulers!). She then went to another Christian school nearby but was ostracized there as well. Finally she finished last 2 years at a new charter school focused on the arts. She begged us to go there (music drama, etc.). We acquiesced and we all realized she absolutely hated music and drama but through some finagling on our parts, managed to eke out an associates degree in early childhood education as well as her high school diploma by age 18. Everything was online. She spent super structured days at kitchen counter on laptop doing class work, then at 3 pm the day was hers. But she spent it mostly on her bed, reading, knitting or playing on phone. We did hold off until age 15 on both TV in room and I think 16 on first phone. Wish we’d held off until NEVER. Side rant .. I believe ANY screen is poison for any child “on the spectrum” (and most adults as well). She got a work/study job at a local preschool which turned into a regular job.

Suddenly she starts dating an older boy. 19 years old. Nice young man but she got a taste of freedom. She started spending a couple of days each week at his parent’s house. For whatever reason, she started letting her hygiene and eating habits go. (We were super strict. 20 years, not ONE visit to fast food restaurant. Pizza take out 1x per month was the worst). She started gaining just a little weight, not bad. But then she broke up with boyfriend. Got fired out of the blue. Decided she hated children and teaching. She was 80% toward her BACHELOR’s degree in ECE and we convinced her to just continue so she’d at least have a degree in something. We explained that EVERY job sucks at some level, etc. but she’d had it. Then she decided to move out, created an argument with my wife who gave her the ultimatum of apologizing or getting out (side note: daughter was miserable to my wife, first part of the day, to the point where wife would hide out until 9.30 or so when daughter’s adhd med would kick in). Daughter moved in with new boyfriend, 2 weeks later got their first apartment, 3 weeks later broke up and moved to ANOTHER apartment. She’d managed to save 13K during her work time due to living with us. Fast forward, 2 more apartments, she weighs TWICE what she weighed a year ago. She’s super lazy, can’t get even the most basic things done until it becomes urgent. Can’t seem to put jobs together to get 40 hours (everyone’s hiring around here but nobody wants to hire her). She’s actually started and left 7 jobs in past year in fact. Her savings is nearly gone, we’ve decided the responsible thing is to allow her to become homeless. (side note: My wife is allergic to cats, so daughter immediately obtained 3 of them as soon as she moved out, so there’s no way she can come home anyway without getting rid of the cats). I don’t want to let her be homeless but I’m not sure what else to do. I used to have these same issues but I acknowledged them and allowed help from time to time. I’m 56, retired, completely self sufficient, happy, except I no longer sleep because of my perceived shortcomings as a father. I’m plagued by the notion that there’s something left to do. Unfortunately she’s not open, tells us everything is fine, she doesn’t need medication (so she quit that), doesn’t need counseling (in fact even laughed at it). She is promiscuous, has cheated on last 3 boyfriends until they broke up, and she lies pathologically. She’s a sick, sick girl from my viewpoint and I don’t know what to do.

I know there’s no black and white answer but I’d love to hear some perspective. I’ve told her my concerns, told her we love her and will have to let her fail unless she turns it around. We’ve enabled her quite a bit with our assistance, but have stepped back now. My wife is amazing but daughter feels judged and won’t open up or let her or I help. Just a mess.

Thanks in advance for any perspective or suggestions.

Casual scribe
hotwired

Re: Panicked father

Quick note: I didn't realize this was out of the country when I signed up. I should mention I'm in the USA.

Mod
Taylor-RO

Re: Panicked father

Hi @hotwired,

 

Thanks for sharing. It sounds like your daughter has a few different things going on for her which could be manifesting as this behaviour on the outside. From what you have described, it sounds like you have watched your daughter's behaviour change quite drastically in more ways than one. I imagine that it must be quite disheartening and upsetting to feel like these changes are a result of your shortcomings as a parent. I can hear that it has been quite difficult for you and your wife to manage your daughter's behaviour and that it has begun to take a toll on you as a family. You appeared to have offered your daughter a lot of varying support options, although she does not seem to be interested.

 

It is important for your daughter to know that she is loved (as you have already mentioned) and that you are there to support her. This could also involve using language that is sensitive and non-judgemental as it is important for young people to feel heard, respected and understood. As she is now an adult, it is up to her whether she chooses to take you up on the support that you offer. In regards to being homeless, if you feel this is a significant risk for your daughter, then it would be ideal to offer her some services she can access to assist with her living situation. As we are an Australian service, it is difficult for us to provide resources appropriate for your area but you are still welcome to continue using our forums. Another option is to explore other options with her - like living with other family members, her friends or friends of yours/your wife.

 

I am wondering if you or your wife have some support for yourselves? I know that this hasn't been easy for you or your wife and sometimes talking to a professional can help you process your emotions. You could also ask for additional strategies or other ways of going about the situation if you are interested.

 

Please feel welcome to keep updating us, we are here for you Heart

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Parent/Carer Community Champion
Birdwings

Re: Panicked father

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Hi @hotwired,

I don't think anything can prepare you for being a parent, especially a parent when you're kid is going through stuff and not responding. My kids are 17 and 15 and we've had our issues to deal with although your daughter is that bit older. It's sounds like you and your wife have bent over backwards to  set your daughter on a steady course, and it's heartbreaking to see her self-destruct. Some people seem to have this inner balancing thing and though they might make some not so good choices, they reset and I guess it stops them from going into deeper trouble. On the other hand, some people can't or won't do that and end up in a downward spiral and seemingly can't or won't get out. Given her mental health issues, there may come to a point where you'll need to step in and get her help. Manage her finances. It's a really hard call.

In the meantime, maybe try to do something enjoyable with your wife. Try to keep yourself topped up. 

I recommended this song earlier to someone but it's so appropriate; Guy Sebastian's "I'm Standing With You". It's so spot on. 

Take care and best wishes,

Birdwings