Parent 1: JL
I liked the option of the Father having the daughter bring the car over and have them both look at it together. I have found with my boys, and I believe this is well documented, that they are more likely to engage in a conversation when they are involved in a project where you are working together.
Parent 2: DR
I agree, no teenager wants to be lectures to, neither do some adults. I applaud the father for hanging tough and think his response to this is important.
First, all he can do is be honest & forthright. Clearly, the daughter dropping in & out of his life at whim is a symptom of her vast psychological & emotional issues. As a dad, he can feel all the things we all would...the desire to keep connected, love, fear, guilt..etc...but he should not waiver.
Ideally, the daughter should meet with him, not to be lectured, but to get the clear & distinct boundary he sets in a heart to heart way. Honest, transparency...& if she rejects truth and/ or boundaries....that is her baggage to deal with.
First, not bad-mouthing the mother....ever. (I know...no brainer)
Second, the inheritance had a caveat...for school completion only, those were the grandmother's wishes...incidentally, the grandmother whose death she didn't acknowledge which was hurtful to him (you care about her $ not..her life?)
And last, I would be glad to fix your car myself cause I'm your dad & that's what dad's do...they try to fix what's broken...including communication between him & his daughter. Another point...a deal ... You need to know anything...ask me...speak to me...I'm not a mind reader. I'm here for you & love you
My two cents...
Parent 3: EJ
You make a valid point about teens not wanting to be lectured, so here is my initial response.
She asked for her inheritance, not his help. Even if there was an inheritance, my answer would be no. But I would offer to pay for half of whatever is needed. She would have to come up with the rest and help me fix it. I wouldn't argue about any part of it; here's my offer, take it or leave it. If you leave it, I am ok with that, but if you take it, I am happy to help. After it is repaired, my parting words would be something like, "If you continue to treat me like that, the next time I won't be able to help you. I love you, I want to be your dad and I want you around whenever you want, but not just because you need something from me.
Parent 4: BC
Thinking back to my own teenage years, I have come to realize we has strict boundaries.
Early teenage years at my Father's house (my mother died when I was 10) it was bed by 2200. Weekends at my Grandparents it was back in the house by 10. In both meal times were strict boundaries you had to be for 5. These boundaries gave mutual respect, even though you disagreed.
Of course within these parameters my fellow teenagers and I knew how much mischief we could get up to and did do.
A funny part that I never realized until a few years back. Neither my Father, his new wife nor my Grandparents objected to us going to the pub at 17. The legal age in Scotland is 18 We thought we were so grown up. We were blissfully unaware of the boundary that had been set for us.
The barman was our Uncle's best friend so were actually being baby sat in an adult environment. Again there was a curfew time for being home. Being tipsy would not have been a good idea. A bit carrot and stick.
Boundaries and Yes/no answers are the way - even dealing with adults!
Parent 5: LW
Putting the perspective question of "What to do when a child (with negative relationship with you)....comes to you for financial help" helps clarify the what would you do. I think even I as a divorced parent who's children has a positive relationship with both parents can say that if said requesting child is not being respectful of everything provided to him/her growing up, then maybe s/he doesn't deserve the financial assistance. There are always present opportunities for 'children' to learn and grow, could be another opportunity to say something like 'as a disrespectful adult, I don't feel like you deserve the assistance'. Employers would not keep an employee who does not perform and continue to pay them...what's the difference. I think some alienated parents would want to help believing providing money will buy the child back into their life, not a faulting thought at all, but not sure it is in the best interest of the child to give them something not deserved.
Parent 6: DA
I was alienated from my daughter for 14 years and she did not respect me at all. Having said that, pretty much the only time she called me was when she needed money. I always helped, but looking back now, I wish I wouldn’t have because she was never grateful for it “and” her Dad didn’t have any money.
Parent 5: LW
Don't beat yourself up though DA. You (and all of us) make decisions based on the current situation and factors. I know and am certain all of us have many decisions we look back at now and think, wrong decision - should of, would have, could have but we didn't because our hearts won believing in the best of the children.
Parent 7: JA
I think we have to have boundaries of respect to feel open to giving to our children. It feels like getting mugged with these demands of money etc when we are being spit on.
Parent 5: LW
As alienated parents, it remains the losing battle...You can only make the decision that you are comfortable with at the time it's asked/demanded.
Interesting. Yes, without boundaries and borders, there is no stable environment and the kids do not get to learn appropriate life lessons.
Parent 8: WK
I do not believe that anything of the past, including behaviors, should be spoken about. Keep it all in the present. Regardless of the daughter's motives for contacting the dad, in the end, she did reach out to him which is a clear sign that she knows deep down he loves her. My suggestion is to find a way to solve this together. No lectures. No long dissertations. Keep it simple like and carefree-"hey, why don't you bring the car over and we will take a look at it." If she takes him up on the offer they can focus their conversation around the car. Maybe he can reach her what to look for to repair it, etc. The daughter needs to be reminded that she feels unthreatened when she is with him. No lectures about going back to school where the daughter feels judged. Keep it simple. If she refuses to bring the car over so they can both look at it together, he should just remind her that whenever she is ready to drive it over he, just let him know. Leave the ball in her lap.
Yes, I agree that feeding the ‘troll’ is not always the best answer because it teaches them the wrong lesson about using and abusing people. Kids learn that this is how you get what you want. NOT! But it is a definitely a delicate balance.
And Yes, I would have to say that this is the problem with helping out and there not being any accountability.
Also, there is the theory that deep down inside, they do remember the positive things we do for them. And every situation is different. What if the case was a child who was just parroting and going along with the other parent? And really did want a relationship. Then comes this opportunity, disguised as a need for money. For the alienating parent, they think this is great because the kid is using the other parent. Meantime, the child is thinking, well my aggressive parent thinks I am doing this to appease her anger, when in reality this is a prime opportunity for me to see and spend time with my other parent, and the aggressive parent would be no wiser.
I also agree that this does feel like we are being bullied and beaten up and having our lunch money taken. But Yes, this was one of the bigger thought processes, bonding moment, that we came up with during the meeting, as it created a chance for them to bond.
Parent 9: GL
I'm very late to this conversation, and have only read the question. I hope that you'll forgive me for not reading all of the responses. You've very likely covered all the issues by now, but I'd like to add my two cents. If I were this father, I would NOT help her with her car or any other thing as long as she behaved this way.
I was completely alienated for fourteen years from my only daughter. Two years after we reunited (at age 18) she came to live with me. She was not so much running TO me, as she was running AWAY from her mother and step-father. In short, she was in full rebellion mode, and was as cold as ice! After graduating, she began partying and coming in late and was combative.
I had become a doormat, and did not even respect myself. Finally I did something I never dreamed that I would have to do: I kicked her out of the house! For so many years I yearned for a relationship with her, and now I had kicked her out! Every day for the next five months, I beat myself up, wondering whether I had done the right thing or not. I did not hear a word from her for five achingly long months.
Happily, she did finally come back! Even better, her attitude and behavior had completely changed. More importantly, I regained my self respect. Thankfully, it wasn't long before her icy exterior finally melted and she became the daughter I had always wanted. Today, twelve years later, she is still the loving daughter I always wanted. I'm so glad that I finally stood up and demanded some respect. It worked out best for both of us! So my answer to the question as to whether I would help her would be a resounding NO!!!!
Parent 10: SC
I completely agree. I certainly don't mind supporting my children. But not at the expense of being used or disrespected. I like LW’s approach and offer to look at the car and take it from there.
Yes, GL, when you kicked her out, she was forced to be an adult have to be responsible for herself, her life, her bills, a roof over her head and so much more. She got the epiphany she needed. And that is why this is such a difficult question. These kids often have been allowed to do what ever they want, just to keep their allegiance or even their love. They are not prepared for the real world until we push them out that door and make them do it.
Whether I did things right or wrong with my daughter, the one thing I did teach her was to be responsible, motivated and disciplined. Does she party and go to festivals? Of course. But her bills are paid. She works full time. She volunteers at an animal shelter. And she is trying to go back to school for her graduate degree. She has actually worked since she was probably 7 years old, only because she ripped through the recreational figure skating program and they asked her to assist with the other skaters. Then as she got further into her skating, she would help out with recreation skating classes and instead of pay, they put the money toward the cost of her ice time ($8-16/hour on the ice to just practice). She also assistant taught dance classes to take money off of her dance bill. And she did a medical internship for her last two years of high school. While in college, she worked teaching figure skating for the first two years. And then waitressed for the next two years and maintained her own apartment. When she graduated college in May last year, I knew I felt comfortable letting her move out to Denver CO on her own, because I felt she was prepared. Is she always nice to me, hell no. Did she make mistakes? hell yeah. But most of them were under my roof so to speak. Is she perfect? Hell no. But I also trust her sense of judgment and know she is only 22 and still learning.
Parent 10: SC
My now 20 year old son has made many mistakes. But this is how we live and learn. He is in college now and is learning how to be independent and responsible. When I do something for him now, he shows appreciation and always says thank you. He no longer has the attitude of being entitled to my doing "everything" he asks for. His expectations are more properly aligned and asks for help instead of demands. This only happened when I stopped doing things for him. It was painstaking as GL mentioned. I remember writing to GL and expressing how my son made me feel like a doormat. It was hearing his experience that gave me the strength to act similarly. I too needed to gain my self respect and my sons respect back. This may not work for all situations, but simply stated ... I feel you should only do it if you feel good about doing it. Keep your self respect in tact and eventually they follow by example. If they are disrespectful and they are rewarded ... How will you gain their respect?
Parent 9: GL
We need to ask ourselves how we would react if someone other than our beloved child/ children behaved as that daughter and then asked for our help. We do them, as well as ourselves, a disservice by not DEMANDING of them a modicum of respect. If this father obliges his daughter, he will be teaching her that it's okay to act like that toward him and others. Nobody would want to associate or be friends with someone capable of doing what this daughter has done. I owed it to my daughter to kick her out. She learned that she couldn't mistreat someone and expect them to like it. She got the message!!
They all make mistakes, as did we! Your daughter certainly has learned great character. None of our kids are perfect. Is mine always nice?......Yes, but only because she lives in Houston Texas with her husband and children. It's a lot easier for her to be nice when we don't live so close or interact as often. It also doesn't hurt that she knows I insist on being treated fairly. Megan and I spoke yesterday, and we talked about this group. She is now a thirty year old married mother of two. She acknowledged that a parent should NEVER be alienated from their child, as long as there was no abuse (as in her case). She's known for years now that I've been involved with this group. She approved when she found out, and it still pleases her that our (hers and mine) experience affected me so deeply that I'm still involved with this effort although we've been reunited for twelve years!