It has always just been my daughter and I. Her father passed away at a young age and after that I never had any other kids. My parents are not in my life, and my husband’s parents are out of the picture. My daughter is my everything. She is all that I have.
Three months ago, my eighteen-year-old daughter started dating a twenty-two-year-old man. When I first became aware of this, I was shocked, but not too worried. You see, I have had my fair share of dates with older guys, especially in high school. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, and when I met her new boyfriend, he seemed like a nice guy. Well, he did at first.
A few weeks in, my daughter stopped sleeping at home. I expressed to her that I thought she was moving too fast too soon, but she just laughed at me and rolled her eyes. When I told her it was time to come home, she told me she was an adult and didn’t have to listen to me. Unfortunately, she was right. I could have done more. I could have threatened to cut her off. To cancel to cell phone. But I didn’t want to distance myself even more from my daughter that I could feel was already pulling away.
Fast forward to two months in the relationship, and I am barely speaking to my daughter once a week. She had become withdrawn and refused to see me or any of the family in person. She eventually stopped answering my calls and texts. I finally decided to go to where she was living and see for myself what exactly was going on.
I never could have prepared myself for what I was going to see when I arrived. My daughter’s boyfriend had taken complete control of her life. When I first knocked on the door, I heard the two of them arguing about whether or not to let me in. My daughter seemed as though she was going along with whatever her boyfriend was saying, and her voice seemed timid and scared.
I could tell that both of them were under the influence of some sort of substance. I couldn’t even recognize my own daughter. She no longer dresses the same way, and the house was lined ith carryout Chinese food and pizza boxes. I have become extremely concerned for her personal health, but as a parent there is only so much, I can do. What do you think is going on, and what can I do to better understand this situation?
Signs of codependency
Dear “Worried Mother,”
From what you have told me, it appears your daughter is suffering from codependency with her boyfriend. This occurs when one person could be suffering from an addiction, and they are allowing and encouraging another to participate in risky behavior with them. Relationships such as these are very dangerous for both parties involved.
Your daughter is most likely the enabler in this situation. Her boyfriend was probably an addict when they met, and she has been feeding into his destructive lifestyle. Instead of trying to help him with his issues, your daughter may even be funding or participating in abusing dangerous substances. Many couples often find themselves in codependent situations because they get caught up in their emotions and feelings towards each other.
Codependency is much more common than one may think. The signs and symptoms of codependency are easy to spot, and as a parent it is important to be aware of these symptoms and be able to identify them in their children in order to get them proper help.
One of these symptoms is when an individual obsesses over their actions and becomes fixated on not messing up. They will constantly be afraid they have made a mistake and possibly angered their partner. People suffering from codependency may also exhibit symptoms of other mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and much more.
How to overcome codependency
Luckily for you and your daughter, the damage of codependency is not irreversible. You still have time to get her help and learn ways to properly deal with your daughter’s situation. Learning how to overcome codependency is hard, but it is possible. There are many councilors, therapists, and other trained professionals that can work with couples to help break down their codependency on one another and build a healthy well-functioning relationship.
Talking to your daughter is going to be hard. Remind her that you two have always been in it together, and that you just want the best for her. There is no easy and quick fix for codependency. This is a long and tremulous journey that is going to take time and effort. You may not recognize your daughter now, but she is in there deep down. Find ways to emotionally connect with your daughter and get her to see your point of view.
Your daughter is not a lost cause. You can be the one person who helps her to turn her life around. She will need your emotional support for her codependency recovery, and it is important you do not lash out, get too emotional, or over react. A simple intervention can be the difference between a lifetime of codependency and a lifetime of healthy boundaries.
Make sure when you bring up the topic, you are not attacking or accusing your daughter or her boyfriend of anything. It is important to remain calm and to not insult anyone and create any sort of hostile environment. You want to be there as someone on their side.
Best of Luck,