Q. I recently met my boyfriend’s grown (and married) daughter for the first time. He is 54 and she is 32, and he told me that they are very close. This wasn’t surprising to me since her mother died many years ago. However, I never expected what I witnessed the first time we went to stay with her and her husband on my vacation. First of all, the couple is living in my boyfriend’s house (he travels a lot on business so they moved in and are living rent and bill free). She works part time and he has a job that doesn’t pay very well, I gathered. However, I couldn’t believe how uncomfortable I was made to feel when I visited. Not only did she act as if she owned the house, but she actually bossed my boyfriend around like a henpecking wife, telling him what he could and couldn’t buy for the house and acting very territorial towards me. He told me that her husband does not have much money, and that she depends on her father, though he admitted the situation has probably gone too far. Instead of just supporting her, he now supports both of them and she expects the best of everything. I was really astonished at how she treated him (very disrespectful) and told him so in private. He understood and seemed to agree, but told me that at this late stage, he’d feel very guilty forcing them to take care of themselves, since he was at fault for getting her used to such a life. I really care for this man. He is good guy. But I’m afraid of what the future will hold for our relationship with this ungrateful albatross around his neck. Your thoughts?
A. Your boyfriend’s daughter has some serious entitlement issues, but for him to continue to enable her out of guilt is not the answer. Situations like this rarely get better and usually get worse. Is your boyfriend planning to support her kids if she has them, too? How does he think that will affect a possible future with you? And where will the two of you live if you want to marry or move in together? Obviously not at his home. The fact that she and her husband don’t pay rent or bills for the privilege of living there is just wrong. There is a time for children to become independent, and hers has clearly come and gone, but it’s never too late. Your boyfriend needs to be aware that he’s not doing her any favors by keeping her dependent on him. What would happen if God forbid something happened to him? Does she have a back-up financial plan? Many fathers, whether divorced or widowed, tend to spoil their children (particularly daughters) out of guilt, and don’t even realize how problematic it is until a possible mate comes along and points it out. You’ve had this talk, and he seems to agree with you, which is a good start. How and if he moves forward, though, is an open question. I’m curious to know how often he stays at his house and how often he interacts with her. This will indicate how much time in your life will be affected. I suggest sharing with him the points I made here and seeing if he is receptive to the logic behind them. He also needs to know how uncomfortable his daughter made you feel and how inappropriate all this is from the standpoint of a third party—especially one he cares for. Then you’ll just have to wait and see if he has the courage to become a strong father for her—and a truly available mate for you.
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