Mother Being Pressured to Support Her Daughter's Poor Life Choices

By Amy Dickinson | May 27th, 2022

Her daughter is marrying a man that will only lead to trouble. Should her mom support her?

This mother’s daughter has just gotten engaged to a pot smoking, drug dealing, reckless and irresponsible man and she’s asking her mom to support her poor life choices. Should her mom put her foot down and risk being hated by all of her children?

Dear Amy:

My daughter just announced her engagement to her boyfriend, “Clay.”

They are both heavy pot users. Clay is also a convicted felon (for selling narcotics), a college dropout, and has psychiatric and physical health problems.

He picks up occasional work but cannot and does not support her. He can barely support himself. He has terrible hygiene.

Worse yet, he seems to be incredibly reckless. He has totaled three cars in three years.

My husband and our other children insist that I must support my daughter’s life choices, but I cannot bring myself to. I see only pain and poverty in her future.

We raised our beautiful daughter in an upper middle-class family, sent her to private college and on European trips.

We supported her 100 percent over the past year while she successfully undertook and excelled in a prerequisite program to start a three-year (online, part-time) master’s degree toward a new career.

She recently got a minimally-paying job and wants us to continue to help support her while she moves forward with grad school and the boyfriend.

Her siblings have said that if I don’t support her choices, I will lose contact with all of them.

I feel like I’m being blackmailed into watching a horror movie play out. My heart is broken. If I cut off my daughter financially, she’ll hate me.

If I don’t support her relationship with her boyfriend, they’ll all hate me.

My husband, who wants to retire soon, wants me to at least support her relationship, and is willing to tell my daughter to take loans and support herself.

Could you weigh in?

– Heartbroken Mom

Dear Heartbroken: I see a distinction between “support” and “accept.”

Yes, you should accept your daughter’s choice because she is an adult and she has the right to make terrible choices.

If you accept her, must you also “support” her? Absolutely not.

She may need to experience the reality of living a marginal life – far from her upper-middle class privilege – in order to make a choice about it.

If she continues with her graduate program and you can afford it, you might choose to pay only her school bills (directly to the school). If she completes each semester successfully, you can choose to pay for the next semester. This would be extremely generous. She and “Clay” will then have to work to support their living expenses – as countless adult couples are expected to do.

Invite them over for dinner, include them in family events, and yes – you may be forced to face and tolerate your disappointment in your pot-using daughter and her choice in partner, but until she is forced to face her own choices and disappointments, she will never be inspired to perhaps choose differently.

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from a controlling husband to DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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