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Annie’s Mailbox: Discuss new life with daughter

Thu., June 24, 2010

Dear Annie: My husband and I are at the end of our rope with our 18-year-old daughter, “Kate,” who just graduated from high school.

Kate has been dating a 21-year-old man for more than a year. She met him at my husband’s work. We don’t dislike “Todd,” but he has no ambition and is extremely lazy. Six months ago, Todd lost his job. He made no attempt to get another and didn’t even apply for unemployment benefits. He cashed in his 401(k) and managed to blow $11,000 in two months. He doesn’t even own a car.

Todd managed to get rehired with the same company in another state. Now Kate has thrown her entire future out the door. Instead of going to college, she is planning to move in with Todd.

Kate is living in a fantasy world, thinking Todd can support her. We have tried explaining that she shouldn’t toss a college education out the door for any man, but she won’t listen and accuses us of wanting her to fail.

I know the answer is to shut down the gravy train to shock Kate into realizing how hard life will be. But how do you let your child make such a huge mistake? What happens if she gets pregnant and marries this idiot? – Feel Like a Failed Parent

Dear Parent: We suspect part of Todd’s appeal is that you are so opposed to the relationship. It’s time to refocus on helping your daughter prepare for her new life. Discuss in a matter-of-fact way what kind of job she thinks she is capable of getting and how much she thinks she will earn. Teach her how to prepare a budget.

Ask whether she plans to get pregnant and how that will affect her financial situation. Tell her you love her and wish her well. When she sees that her decisions are entirely up to her, she might wake up. And who knows? Maybe Todd will surprise you.

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