DEAR AMY: My daughter met a guy on an online dating site. He was a total stranger. My wife and I met him in January. There were red flags everywhere. My daughter is a talented and smart cookie. She had a plan in life. She had three years of college and landed a good job. She had her own car and money. Our daughter moved in with him in March, and it has been a nightmare ever since. They have had nothing but trouble and financial problems; now she owes so much and has too many debts to mention. She’s quit her job and has lost everything she’s owned — even her independence. She moves from place to place to place. We were told to stay out of her life. Our bleeding hearts will never stop loving her. It’s like a death in the family. She still walks around, but that’s not our little girl, she’s that guy’s girlfriend. Any suggestions?
DEAR GRIEVING: Given the rapid slide your daughter has experienced with this man, it is possible that they are caught up in our current national drug crisis, where opioid use is described as an “epidemic.”
Elements pointing to the possibility that your daughter is taking drugs are: Isolating herself from you, leaving her job, losing her possessions and burning through money.
Don’t give up on her. Don’t give her money or pay her debts, but if she needs food and shelter, offer it to her. Offer her professional help.
People involved in toxic relationships don’t want their family members to witness or interfere; of course she will push you away.
Your daughter has the right to make choices — even terrible and unhealthy ones. Don’t dwell on the idea that she needs to remain your “little girl.” Do be completely transparent about your extreme concern; tell her she is worth so much more than the life she seems to be leading.
Tell her that when she is ready, you will be there for her. Keep your heart open, and don’t make this crisis about your loss, make it about her health and welfare.
DEAR AMY: My husband’s mother makes a dessert that he is very fond of. Years ago she gave me the recipe and I have made it many times. In the years since, my MIL has opened a restaurant. This is now one of her “signature” desserts. I recently wanted to make this dessert for my husband’s birthday, but couldn’t find the recipe. I asked my MIL for help. Did my MIL reply, “Sure, honey, I’ll send you a copy” or “How about I just make him one instead?” No. She said I couldn’t have the recipe and told me I could order one from her restaurant. She wants me to pay more than $60 for a pie-sized dessert. I am so mad about this I can’t think straight. She has always been self-centered and not particularly nice, but this is pushing me almost to the breaking point; she doesn’t care about her son’s happiness, or anyone else’s. For the sake of family harmony, I usually just ignore her and let my husband handle her. The kicker? She didn’t even invent this recipe. The original copy was photocopied from an old cookbook. Am I overreacting? Do you think I’m justified in calling her out on her extreme selfishness?
DEAR UPSET: Your mother-in-law is being ungenerous; and yet, this seems in keeping with your assessment of her.
And here’s the tough truth about people: We don’t tend to alter our behavior, even if others give us lots of chances to behave differently.
You have yet another example of your MIL’s ungenerous nature. You can make a simple statement: “I’m upset about this dessert thing. It may seem like a small matter, but it would have been very easy for you to be helpful, and I would have appreciated it.”
DEAR AMY: You completely blew it in your answer to “Upset Coach,” who left fifth-graders in the gym (with other parents present) when an aggressive parent became confrontational. You agreed with the school’s choice to reprimand this coach for leaving the gym. I completely disagree. Coach diffused the situation by leaving; he or she kept them safe.
DEAR PARENT: This coach was responsible for the children’s safety while they were in the gym. Leaving them with a belligerent parent who is yelling at them does not assure their safety — even if there are other adults present.