SK asks: I keep hearing stories from my daughter about how awful her boyfriend is, how bad he treats her and how miserable she is but she won’t break up with him. What’s going on and how can I help?
The reality is that you can’t make her do anything, such as break up with him. That won’t happen until she makes the choice that she is worth more than the kind of treatment she’s getting, and that she is interested in building her own self-respect.
It’s possible that the best way to help in a situation like this is to talk with your daughter in a non-charged moment. Coming from a place of love instead of from a place of anger and fear – to the best of your ability – you may be able to reach her at a deeper level. You can tell her that you love her very much and are concerned for her safety if she remains in this relationship. Maybe you can offer to pay for some counselling for her, if you’re in a financial place to do that. If it feels okay for you, let her know that she can come to you when she is afraid – although you will probably give her the same messages when she does.
And depending on the relationship you have with her boyfriend, you may be able to let him know that you’re aware that there are problems in their relationship and that if he hurts her in any way, you will call the authorities. As with addiction, an abuser of people also needs to have appropriate boundaries set for them, with consequences that will hopefully be deterrents to their behaviour. You can let him know that the way he’s been treating your daughter is not acceptable on any level, and that you’re not going to sit passively by and watch this continue to happen. Doing this will, at the very least, encourage him to think twice before continuing to mistreat her – and it also may be the best role-modelling you can give to your daughter. Good luck!
All my best,