19 year old daughter - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 28 Old 05-10-2016, 06:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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19 year old daughter

Hi everyone. My daughter just turned 19, she has been dating the same guy for a year and a half and they have known each other since 4th grade. He is generally a nice kid, but has no social skills. My daughter wants to bring him to everything we do, dinners at her grandmother's, out to dinner, etc. She spends all her free time with him and hardly ever sees other friends.
When we are out at dinner, he is always looking at his phone or he is mumbling to her. My daughter will try talking to others some, but he constantly pulls her back in to his mumbly conversation that no one else can hear.
It's just so off putting and changes the tone for everyone involved.
They are 19 and 20 years old, so I feel at a loss. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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#2 of 28 Old 05-10-2016, 08:26 PM
 
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That's hard. Is she planning on college (or does she attend)? Maybe some physical space from him will give her some perspective.


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#3 of 28 Old 05-10-2016, 08:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She attends a local community college right now and so does he. She is working out of town for 2 months this summer and I am really hoping she will meet others and it will shift something. They have been talking about moving in together in the fall, though he does not currently have a job.
I know I have to let her make her own decisions, but it's hard to watch some days. :neutral_face:
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#4 of 28 Old 05-11-2016, 05:48 AM
 
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She's an adult. She gets to make her own choices.


You can talk to her *gently* about your concerns, but the truth is that she doesn't have to show up for anything, and that anything you say or do that drives a wedge between the two of you just puts space between you. Realistically, young women tend prefer time with their boyfriends to their mothers' approval, and you make her choose, you will most likely loose.


Have you tried getting together with them in a smaller group (like just the 2 of them and just you and your significant other) and getting to know him? Have you asked her what she likes about him and then tried to appreciate those qualities? He may be a great guy who treats her really well and makes her happy. He may feel uncomfortable in large groups. How well a man does with extended family isn't really a measure of whether or not he is a positive addition to a woman's life.

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#5 of 28 Old 05-11-2016, 06:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I totally agree that she is an adult and is making her own decisions. I have not tried to interfere in any way.
I know her boyfriend very well. I taught in the school they went to and I have known him as long as she has.
He is sweet and can be funny on the occasions that he makes eye contact and can engage.
He has been to dinner, just the 4 of us (my significant other) and he seems even worse with him, very insecure and more mumbly.
Maybe there is no help for it.
I guess I just needed to vent.
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#6 of 28 Old 05-11-2016, 06:47 AM
 
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Do you know other people who see them ... when you AND your partner are not around ?
Can you ask these other people if the young men is any different than what you see when he's socializing with "her family" ?

i understand your frustration ... it IS hard to step back and let them make their own decisions ... when as a Mom you started making all or nearly all the decisions for so many years .... and besides, adolescent brain doesn't consider facts the same as adult brain (... besides not having as much experience ...) so, what may seem "obvious" to us ... does not carry the same weight at all with our adult or nearly adult children ...
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#7 of 28 Old 05-11-2016, 11:51 AM
 
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I agree that the future of the relationship is solely her decision, but I do think it is okay to say "no, just family" on some occasions and to ask for no phones at the dinner table.
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#8 of 28 Old 05-11-2016, 03:25 PM
 
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19 year old daughter

He's more uncomfortable around your SO because the boy and your dd are having sex. (Is your SO male? Can't see signatures on the phone). Dads and dad figures can't help a little bit of glaring at the man who's having sex with his daughter.

Either way, he knows what they've done and he knows that you know. KWIM? It doesn't have to be anything crazy, but when you're 19 it's all a little crazy.

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#9 of 28 Old 05-11-2016, 10:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StarChild;19417761very [B
insecure[/B] and more mumbly.
.
What have you done to put him at ease?


To me, you are describing a cycle. He feels insecure and therefore acts oddly. He acts oddly so you dislike him. He picks up on your feelings and feels worse, and therefore acts worse, and on and on.


You can break the cycle. Or you can continue it.


That fact that you used to be his teacher isn't helping. Few young men want to socialize with their former teachers who still think of them as socially awkward kids who can't do anything right.


As far as declaring things family only, they've been dating for a year and a half. She might not show up. (I wouldn't have at that age.) This isn't some guy she picked up last week, this is a long term relationship.
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#10 of 28 Old 05-12-2016, 03:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I was never his teacher, I just taught at their school. I am very nice to him and so is the rest of our family.
I was just looking for suggestions on how to deal with his behavior of mumbling to my daughter or playing with his phone the whole time at dinners. If they were 12, I would say No phones at the table! My daughter and I have always had that rule actually, but he is 20 and I am not his mother.
My daughter's father lives in another state and is not involved. My fianc? is male and tries to use humor with him, but he doesn't seem to respond to it much with him though they both have a good sense of humor separately.
It just feels very awkward and my mom called me yesterday and said the same thing.
They have been together quite a while now and my daughter considers him like family, so except for an occasional girls only get together, he is going to be there.
We all talk to him, but he only answers direct questions and doesn't make conversation at all.

Last edited by StarChild; 05-12-2016 at 04:08 AM.
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#11 of 28 Old 05-12-2016, 07:27 AM
 
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You never spend time with your daughter one on one? Never meet for lunch? Never go shopping or a movie or anything?

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#12 of 28 Old 05-12-2016, 08:21 AM
 
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It seems to me this young man has self esteem issues and can feel the judgemental glances and looks, even if not intended and that makes the problem worse.
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#13 of 28 Old 05-12-2016, 08:53 AM
 
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What is his family dynamic like? Is it similar to your family or is it totally opposite? My 2nd dd, Erica, met her (now) husband when she was 17. He waited until she was 18 to ask her out. Before then, they met within their circle of friends. He is 5-6 years older (I think; anyway older than her older sister) than she is. It took him years, and my mother-in-law, to be comfortable with us as a family. He just didn't know what to make of us. He would park on the street and hook when picking Erica up when they were dating. Now, some 20 years later, he's a member of our family. On the other hand, my dh is still uncomfortable with our multiple cross conversations and interuptions. He tends to be by himself or in one-on-one conversation with just one other person. Instead of in the over lapping groups and conversations that most of us are in.

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#14 of 28 Old 05-12-2016, 08:58 AM
 
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Originally Posted by StarChild View Post
I was never his teacher, I just taught at their school. I am very nice to him and so is the rest of our family.
I was just looking for suggestions on how to deal with his behavior of mumbling to my daughter or playing with his phone the whole time at dinners. If they were 12, I would say No phones at the table! My daughter and I have always had that rule actually, but he is 20 and I am not his mother.
My daughter's father lives in another state and is not involved. My fianc? is male and tries to use humor with him, but he doesn't seem to respond to it much with him though they both have a good sense of humor separately.
It just feels very awkward and my mom called me yesterday and said the same thing.
They have been together quite a while now and my daughter considers him like family, so except for an occasional girls only get together, he is going to be there.
We all talk to him, but he only answers direct questions and doesn't make conversation at all.
i'm 36 it's really not worth the hassle attempting to assert my adulthood, you'd be surprised how much control you do have over adult children - just exercise it wisely.

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#15 of 28 Old 05-12-2016, 09:28 AM
 
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Originally Posted by StarChild View Post
Hi everyone. My daughter just turned 19, she has been dating the same guy for a year and a half and they have known each other since 4th grade. He is generally a nice kid, but has no social skills. My daughter wants to bring him to everything we do, dinners at her grandmother's, out to dinner, etc. She spends all her free time with him and hardly ever sees other friends.
When we are out at dinner, he is always looking at his phone or he is mumbling to her. My daughter will try talking to others some, but he constantly pulls her back in to his mumbly conversation that no one else can hear.
It's just so off putting and changes the tone for everyone involved.
They are 19 and 20 years old, so I feel at a loss. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
I can understand your concerns and trepidation. You are having them for a reason and I do believe you have to pay attention to your gut feelings.

If he has been coming to family functions for some time now and considered "part of the family," he should be beyond the normal awkwardness that all these normal situations may cause. It really depends on how often these family situations have happened. A lot of things can come into play in such social situations. One can be cultural differences that prohibit direct eye contact. Another can be how much is your daughter trying to transition him into your family. Can there be a learning disability that results in awkward social behaviors? Not enough information to really give good advice if that is what you are looking for.

Do you have heart-to-heart conversations with your daughter on a regular basis or as needed? Then this could be a needed time. Tell her you want to get to know him better if she is serious about him. If she is not then he doesn't need to attend every family situation. Express your concern about his behaviors but not that you dislike him (unless you do then that is another problem). Acknowledge the fact that she is an "adult" and will make her own decisions.

As for the cell phone use or contributing to group conversations, what are your normal house rules? When entertaining or as a general rule do you discourage cell phone use at certain times? If you do, stick to your same household rules. As for conversation, I would continue to try to draw him in. If your daughter truly wants him to transition into your family, she would intercede on his behalf and try to make this go smoothly and also help draw him in. She would want this to work for everybody. Where is she on a maturity level as far as dating and adult behavior goes? Is she your first adult child?

The one thing that concerns me is if he truly brings her back to him and his conversation with her and excluding everyone else in a group situation that this could be an indication of a controlling, immature and self-centered person. Does he manipulate her in other ways? Could be a warning sign or could mean he just needs to grow up and was never expected to.

In all reality, even though they are of legal age, they are still maturing and at different rates. If you push an issue at this stage, it may force her to "choose" and you may not like the result. Tough call! Remembering what it was like when you were her age may help.
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#16 of 28 Old 05-12-2016, 09:52 AM
 
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Originally Posted by sewchris2642 View Post
What is his family dynamic like? Is it similar to your family or is it totally opposite? My 2nd dd, Erica, met her (now) husband when she was 17. He waited until she was 18 to ask her out. Before then, they met within their circle of friends. He is 5-6 years older (I think; anyway older than her older sister) than she is. It took him years, and my mother-in-law, to be comfortable with us as a family. He just didn't know what to make of us. He would park on the street and hook when picking Erica up when they were dating. Now, some 20 years later, he's a member of our family. On the other hand, my dh is still uncomfortable with our multiple cross conversations and interuptions. He tends to be by himself or in one-on-one conversation with just one other person. Instead of in the over lapping groups and conversations that most of us are in.
I agree about how different family dynamics can make some relationships difficult.

Our family is very frank and honest in our conversations that we have at home. When people join us for the first time, it can be awkward for some. We do try to be respectful of newcomers and their personalities but this is one of our ways of getting to know each other. We do have standards and expectations of behavior, especially if you are "one of the family." I have three adult children and a twelve year old. At times this may have embarrassed my children somewhat but they did learn to be active participants in lively discussions. They all know who their family is. Well, except for my 12 year old who is still learning. It is all a part of becoming who we are.

Hopefully, along with that also is a tolerance for others and their varying family dynamics that contribute to who they are! It certainly makes the world a more interesting place!!!
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#17 of 28 Old 05-12-2016, 10:27 AM
 
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If she is not living with him, then I would agree that it's perfectly normal to occasionally tell her "just family" for some family functions.

The other option is to possibly address him directly about it. Engage him with some sort of heart to heart, and see if he is willing to talk about it.

I do feel your pain though. We have the opposite problem, but similar. Our oldest lives with a boyfriend who is hyperverbal. He is with her 90% of the time at family functions, and when he's there no one else can get a conversation going. He's a nice guy, and she could do far worse for a boyfriend. But it's exhausting trying to engage our other kids when he's dominating the discussions.

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#18 of 28 Old 05-12-2016, 10:30 AM
 
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Wow. I don't think there's anything nefarious going on. It just sounds like he's really introverted. So am I! I've just learned to compensate and make pleasant conversation anyway even if I'd rather be looking at my phone.

I'd just try to gently draw him out. Don't give him the 3rd degree and start pumping him for info or interrogating him, but more include him in the conversation. If you're discussing a movie, ask him if he's seen it. Or try to discuss a movie that you know they HAVE seen together. "I really liked that car chase scene! It was amazing when it went up on two wheels. Boyfriendsname, did daughter squeal when that semi truck almost smashed through the windshield?" Don't put the focus on him — that will make him more uncomfortable, but make it about your daughter's reaction or something else entirely. I wouldn't expect more than a mumbly answer, but keep engaging and over time he will probably open up. He's still young. His brain isn't finished growing yet. Ask your daughter about some things he is interested in and ask for suggestions from him. Is he into games on his phone? Ask about that. Tell him that Daughter told you about a really great one, but you can't remember the name. Download it and ask him for some tips. Treat him as a family member with valued opinions, but don't ask him about something that he doesn't care about — no "what color should I paint the master bath" unless he's into that sort of thing.

If he mumbles, just say "I'm sorry I didn't catch that, could you speak up?" and generally treat him kindly— not saying you haven't been, but try not to get exasperated with him. It's exhausting for me as an introvert to be around too many people and family functions where I'm expected to make polite conversation are the worst. I'm the type of introvert who would actually much rather be in a large crowded concert or other event where I can come and go at will and sort of get lost in the crowd than go to a small party. Ugh. I hate parties or dinner parties. Hate hosting them. Hate going to them. But, I'm a grown up, and I enjoy seeing my friends and I want to facilitate my kids have fun with their friends so I go anyway. I can do chit-chat with the best of them, but that doesn't mean I like it. And it's a learned skill, too. Sounds like he never picked up on it and it was never emphasized as something important for him to learn to do.
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#19 of 28 Old 05-12-2016, 10:48 AM
 
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I know it's a tight spot because you want to respect your daughter's choices. It also makes sense for you to request common respect. You can kindly explain (to both of them at once to prevent one of them relaying it to the other through any sort of negative filter) that when these behaviors happen, you feel like he is monopolizing your daughter when you want to enjoy her company, and that when he is too captivated by his phone to engage with others, you feel cheated of your time with both of them, and you feel your time and your presence is not being respected. If they cannot live up to these simple requests for respect, it makes sense there are consequences - fewer dinner invitations, for example. You should not have to trot out the dinner or pick up the tab if you feel like you are only the meal train.

I share your concern about how he isolates your daughter. That is typical manipulation and control, and while isolation may not always be linked to abuse, you rarely find abuse without the isolation. You can find a loving way to express this to your daughter, and if you don't think she will hear it well from you, find another mentor or friend who she may listen to more objectively. That is a classic red flag.

Listen to your gut. Every one of my great big, ugly regrets in my mothering have always come back to trying to be too "democratic" in my mothering and listening to too many influences, and in some cases trying to be too nice, when I should have been true to myself and my instincts.
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#20 of 28 Old 05-12-2016, 11:02 AM
 
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He's just an introvert feeling very awkward at family gatherings. Don't pathologize it. He's not abusive. He's shy and socially awkward. StarChild said
Quote:
He is generally a nice kid, but has no social skills
and
Quote:
He is sweet and can be funny on the occasions that he makes eye contact and can engage.
Use your extrovert super powers to ease the way for shy, socially awkward him. Be gentle and indirect — don't be direct and cause him even more anxiety.

This is a nice extrovert's guide to the care and feeding of your introvert: http://stripey-badger.blogspot.com/2...d-feeding.html
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#21 of 28 Old 05-12-2016, 11:57 AM
 
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If if is an introvert issue, you may want to stay away from wit! Joke-makers are my worst nightmare. My brain cannot keep up and I don't know how to respond back. For me, I do my best in social interactions where I "know my lines." I need time to process before responding, and vastly prefer written communication for this reason. May be why your husband strikes out with him in the joke department.
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#22 of 28 Old 05-12-2016, 01:48 PM
 
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He's just an introvert feeling very awkward at family gatherings. Don't pathologize it. He's not abusive. He's shy and socially awkward. StarChild said and Use your extrovert super powers to ease the way for shy, socially awkward him. Be gentle and indirect — don't be direct and cause him even more anxiety.

This is a nice extrovert's guide to the care and feeding of your introvert: http://stripey-badger.blogspot.com/2...d-feeding.html
I think there is a balance between coddling the introvert and also making sure it's a healthy situation. I do believe a mom should trust her gut, and if it smells like something manipulative, then address it in some manner to her the daughter. But since we aren't there, we are speculating.

My first husband was an introvert AND he used his social awkardness to manipulate people in how they dealt with him. IMO, that wasn't a form of abuse, but it was a way for him to circumvent coping with the world around him. And it was really unhealthy. In the long run it had a real effect on our marriage and partially led to the divorce.

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#23 of 28 Old 05-12-2016, 06:10 PM
 
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My daughter is 19 also and hasn't yet had a boyfriend. My first thought is that you are lucky that he wants to do things with your family. Or at least it's a good sign that he is willing to support his girlfriend by doing things with your family. My second thought is that using his cellphone in front of you when he should be emotionally and physically including himself is both rude and insecure. He's probably picking up on criticism but at the same time he is creating it. Hmmm. I think, or I would hope, that I would treat him like a son (potential son-in-law) and tell him straight up what I would tell my daughter (or anyone I love for that matter): to knock it off and put the cell phone away already. Jeesh. How are you ever going to get close to him when he's off in cellphone land.

Keep making efforts. Have regular mother-daughter dates and speak (relatively) openly with her. Life is too short to be hush-hush and PC around family. He may end up being your son-in-law so how you treat each other now sets a precedent of how the future may be. Good luck mama.
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#24 of 28 Old 05-13-2016, 04:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone for all your input. I think that the next time he is on his phone during a meal, I will just say something. The rest of us don't do that, so it will just be mentioned as a family rule.
My daughter has expressed annoyance with his mumbling to me a few times. As for spending time with me, nowadays I only see her when she comes home from work at 10 pm. If I stay up she will chat with me usually. She goes to his family's house most of the time in the last few months. They live in a much bigger house and they have a basement space all to themselves. His mother is very controlling, even picking out his clothes until the last year or so. I could go on and on about the dysfunction with her. His parents are divorced and his dad is a verbally abusive alcoholic, but so is my ex. Ugh. My daughter and I have had much discussion on this topic.
So I think I feel extra sensitive about the little time I do get to see her.
I am just going to try to keep the lines of communication open and hope that when she's away this summer it will change things up a little.
Thanks.
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#25 of 28 Old 05-13-2016, 09:49 AM
 
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Thanks everyone for all your input. I think that the next time he is on his phone during a meal, I will just say something. The rest of us don't do that, so it will just be mentioned as a family rule.
I don't know if that will go over well. If he's really shy that's putting him more on the spot.

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His mother is very controlling, even picking out his clothes until the last year or so.
It sets you up to be just like his mom. Are you going to criticize his table manners, too?

Nah, the cell phone thing can be very annoying, but just treat it like you would if he were another adult like a co-worker. Ask him casually, "what's up in cell phone land?" or otherwise engage with him about the phone, "I saw this video of kittens today that was sooooooo cute." If you notice and make a friendly comment each time he's on his phone you'll either begin to engage him more in actual conversation or make him uncomfortable enough that he puts the phone away. If you're really direct and say, "Boyfriend, we don't use our phones at the dinner table!" he'll feel shamed and belittled — not a good way to break through to him. If he still doesn't engage with you when you make a friendly comment about the phone start asking to see what's on his phone, "what's on your phone?" "mumble mumble" "Let me see !" That will make him put it away for sure.
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#26 of 28 Old 05-13-2016, 02:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Great ideas, thanks! (I especially enjoyed "mumble mumble, lol)
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#27 of 28 Old 05-13-2016, 07:30 PM
 
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As for spending time with me, nowadays I only see her when she comes home from work at 10 pm. If I stay up she will chat with me usually


I think that there comes a time in our kids lives when we have to set up a date with them -- just like we do with our friends, in order to have quality time with them. This is just part of them growing up. Your DD sounds very busy -- she's in school and working, and in a relationship.


I think I would suggest something that would be fun for the two of you -- a movie or whatever, and make a plan at a time that works for her.


I think that focusing on your relationship with your DD, and working on developing a really positive adult - adult relationship would land better results for you that focusing on the flaws of her current love interest.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#28 of 28 Old 05-15-2016, 05:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Linda, I did this yesterday and it went really well. Before she left after our day together, she hugged me and said "I had a lot of fun today mom".
It was great :heart:
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