Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,
My 19 year old daughter isn’t really into school. She sees no reason for it but she’s attending because I want her to. Recently, through her online video game, she met a 35 year old man from across the country and after two months she thinks she is in love with him. They Skype and she has seen his kid and says he is real cute and she loves him too. He claims he got custody of his child after the end of an abusive relationship with the mom. They council each other on the woes of their lives. She wants to drop everything and move in with him.
So far, she has submitted to my ultimatum: “over my dead body!” But I think that when she turns 20 she plans to leave. What can I do? She says they relate because he “doesn’t think like a 35 year old.” This is what scares me- my daughter is not the most mature kid on the block. What if she goes? He says his ex was the abusive one but it takes two to tango. What if she has kids. I don’t want to be burdened taking care of her kids should it come to that.
Unfortunately, unless your daughter can be proven mentally ill or so mentally retarded that she cannot be responsible for her decisions, there is little you can do. Despite her immaturity her age qualifies her as an adult. Perhaps you could tell her, “you can go, but I have to move in with you too.” It often helps children behave in school if a parent threatens to go in and sit behind them.
As far as any children that your daughter may have, that’s a tough issue. What does one do with adult children who have children of their own? I hope that this guy would step up to the plate, but statistically it is unlikely. You should talk to your husband about what your plans are, when and if that should happen. I would also talk to your daughter about a copper IUD; it is good for 10 years. It has a higher risk of infertility than shorter methods but it doesn’t require any maintenance. Talk to your daughter and her physician about options. Preventative medicine is the best policy here.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: your daughter is a fool, Mom. Let me relate a true story to you; this actually happened to an airhead friend of mine. Jude was a fanciful girl who smoked a lot of pot and tended to think in “cosmic” ways. She struck up a correspondence on the internet with a guy in California who claimed to have his own ranch. He understood her deepest thoughts. They felt the same way about the cosmos and about life and love. He sent her pictures and made promises and she was so besotted that she packed up all her stuff and drove across the country, from Providence, to be with him. When she got there, this little gnome of a guy who smelled terrible greeted her at the end of a dirt road, where she followed him to his cabin. Thank god she had her own car. It turns out the guy was a consummate liar and he was actually the caretaker for a large ranch someone else owned. He’d lied about everything. The only reason they “understood each other so well” was that they were both equally stoned and lacked a sense of concrete reality.
Jude drove back home the wiser for the experience and never made the same mistake again. Here’s a message to your daughter, Mom: anybody can say ANYTHING on the internet and make it seem true. Nothing in their life has to match, not their age, their occupation, or even their gender. All they have to do is fabricate an identity for themselves and convince someone without any ambition or life plan to fall in with their fantasy. If she’s lucky, your daughter will simply be let down. If she’s unlucky, she could end up dead.
Men will say anything to get what they want. They prey on young impressionable kids like your daughter because no one else will fall for their crap. The internet is a perfect place to do this. Any35 year old man who is picking up teens on the internet is a LOSER, no matter how you look at it. As far as what you can do? I’d show your daughter this blog. It may not open her eyes but I hope to god it prompts her to ask a few more questions. Another idea- have your daughter ask the guy to fly out and meet you and your husband. If he’s really serious, he’d welcome the chance to make his intentions known to mom and dad. If he refuses, that picture speaks a thousand words.