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home : columns : dear harriette June 24, 2016

6/10/2014 2:36:00 PM
Parents cut all ties from teenage daughter

DEAR HARRIETTE: My 19-year-old granddaughter recently moved out of her parents' home. They came home one day, and she had left. They quickly changed the garage door combination, took her off of their health insurance, required her to make payments on a vehicle that was given to her for her 18th birthday and her high school graduation and made her pay her auto insurance and her cellphone bill. The one thing that concerned me was her being removed from the health insurance because doing this saved them no money. In the past year, she had become close to a married couple from her church. This seemed OK to her parents until she moved in with them. This 19-year-old is not doing anything bad. She is in her first year of college, and since moving out, she has gone to work almost full time. Because I am still in contact with her, they no longer have anything to do with me. I cannot find anyone who can imagine a mother doing this to her child. My son-in-law is going along with whatever my daughter says to do. -- Concerned Grandmother, Dallas

DEAR CONCERNED GRANDMOTHER: Talk to your granddaughter and try to find out what happened that precipitated her moving out unexpectedly. Something happened that deeply upset her parents to the point that they washed their hands of responsibility for her.  

If her parents refuse to talk to her right now, you should certainly stay close to her to ensure that she keeps clear and focused about her life. Your role can be to support her during this uncomfortable period. Over time, her parents may come back around. Until then, remain the bridge.

DEAR HARRIETTE: The school semester is coming to an end, and I would like to give my son's teacher a gift. The school has a policy in place where teachers cannot accept gifts, but I really want to give her one because she deserves it. How can I get around this policy without getting her in trouble? -- Breaking the Rules, West Orange, New Jersey

DEAR BREAKING THE RULES: Your desire is understandable, but the effect of breaking such a rule would have the opposite impact of what you had in mind. You want to honor your son's teacher. One way to do that is to have your son write a thank-you note that espouses the many ways that she has supported him throughout the year. You, too, can write such a letter that expresses your thoughts and feelings as a parent about how much you respect your child's teacher's efforts during the school year.  

In addition, you can bake cookies or bread or offer some other homemade or handmade gift to show your appreciation. Often, schools shy away from gifts that could be pricey because they don't want to allow anyone to create the semblance of "buying" favor or make other families feel uncomfortable if they cannot afford an extravagant gift.  

(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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