Daughter Dearest

24 Mar

Letterbalm Lazy Young WomanDear LetterBalm: My girlfriend “Caroline” and I are both divorced and in our early 50s. Our jobs keep us very busy, and we live about an hour away from each other, so we get together about once a week. There is one problem in an otherwise excellent relationship: My girlfriend has a 21-year-old daughter “Kit” who lives with her and never lifts a finger. Kit has no job, no household duties, no driver’s license and no responsibilities. Her mother gives her money. She’s taken a few classes at the local community college but has no definite goals. All this would be tolerable if Kit were a nice person. But she’s loud-mouthed, rude and entitled. She has few friends and an abysmal relationship with her dad and stepmother.  Caroline is pressuring me to move in with her – her home is much nicer than mine. I don’t want to share the same home with Kit, who doesn’t treat me well. What can I say to move things along? I really want to marry Caroline, but I want us to do it right. What can I say to get her to get Kit out on her own?

–Is This a Movie?

You already know that Caroline and Kit are a package deal, and, as much as you love her, your chances of a happy marriage with your beloved are slim. You have two options: Wait and hope that Kit moves out herself (slim). Move in and hope that Kit behaves (also slim). Little Miss Rude has a good thing going – she doesn’t have to lift a finger and she gets to throw her weight around as queen of the roost. But Ms. L.B. is very concerned about the enabling dynamic between your girlfriend and her daughter. Kit is a dysfunctional person, and her mother isn’t helping by catering to her and not making her take responsibility for her life. Both of them need family counseling. You must decide if you want to stay in the middle of this muddle. If you haven’t said anything about Kit to Caroline, you can say this just once, privately, but only if you’re ready to give her room to solve her situation without you:

Caroline, you know how much I love you and want to be with you always. I’d like nothing better than for us to live together and start building our new life. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I want to marry you. But it pains me to say that none of this can happen now. Your daughter is a troubled young woman. She’s intelligent and beautiful, but you are enabling Kit and it’s doing her and you no good. She has no goals, no responsibilities and no direction. She’s angry with everyone and with her life. She may be depressed, she may have a mental disorder. I can’t say because I’m not an expert. It wouldn’t be fair to move in with you under your present circumstances. I strongly suggest that you and Kit need family counseling. Honey, you have to resolve this because, no matter what happens between us, you owe it to you and your daughter to end this pain and dysfunction. I’m willing to stick with you as you work through this. I won’t take sides, but I won’t be moving in, and I don’t think we should make future plans now.

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