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home : columns : dear harriette June 28, 2016

2/6/2014 9:58:00 AM
Mother doesn't know what to do about daughter

DEAR HARRIETTE: My 21-year-old daughter and her 2-year-old came to live with us. Her situation was very bad; the father is a deadbeat and they were both addicted to drugs. My daughter went into rehab and has been doing well. She keeps trying to make it work with this loser, but she always ends up back at our house. He ended up displaced from his apartment, so now she and the baby are living with us full time. Even if he did have a place, it wouldn't be a healthy environment for my daughter or my grandchild.  

The frustrating part is that my daughter does not help out much around the house. She claims I don't ask her nice enough or I just want a slave around when I ask her for help. Both my husband and I are in our mid-50s and work full time. It's tough enough to keep our household up without another adult and a baby making a mess. I have told her multiple times that this situation could be really good if we all worked together. If there weren't a child in the mix she would have been kicked out a long time ago. She doesn't work or go to school and has no motivation; she is very sickly, depressed and lazy. She refuses to go see a doctor for these ailments, though she is in talk therapy and, under doctor's care, prescribed Suboxone and Adderall.  

I have been in counseling for years, and the bottom line for me is, "Can I live with the decision I make?" Meaning could I live with kicking them out? I could never do that to my granddaughter. I know you cannot help someone unless they want to help themself, so I feel I am between a rock and a hard place. My daughter has had serious issues since she was 15, and it seems we have tried everything. I hope you can give me some advice on how to handle this. -- Feeling Lost, Jackson, Miss.

DEAR FEELING LOST: As difficult as it may be right now, you do not have to live like this. You do not have to allow your daughter to abuse the privilege of living in your home. Of course you want to support her and your grandchild, but sometimes tough love means requiring that they leave the roost. Look into homes for indigent mothers and children in your town. If you can find her a place to move, you will feel more comfortable asking her to leave.

You can give her the option of staying and pulling her weight or leaving. Outline specifically what tasks you expect her to do and hold her to it. Require that she go to therapy. Speak to her talk therapist to learn pointers on how to encourage her to get more help. Enabling her is not the way to assure a healthy relationship for anyone in your household. If you allow her to disrespect you and your home, you will all remain miserable, and your grandchild will not grow up understanding how to live a healthy, productive life.

(Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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