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Mom Called 'Heartless' For Paying Divorcing Daughter's Rent Instead Of Taking Her In For 'Emotional Support,' But She's Just Setting Boundaries

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Angry mom and crying daughter

Most parents want to help their adult kids in any way they can, and most adults come up against challenges in life where their parents' support seems like the only thing that can possibly help. But where do the boundaries lie once kids are grown adults living lives of their own?

That's the question a mom on Reddit is facing with her own adult daughter, as she revealed in a post to the "r/AmITheA--hole" subReddit, a forum where people ask for input about whether they're in the wrong in a conflict. As she explained in her post, her daughter's divorce has led to a painful consideration of parent/child boundaries.

A mom offered to pay her divorcing daughter's rent for six months rather than let her and her kids live with her.

She wants to help her daughter in any way she can. But having a house full of small children is a bit more than she feels she can handle. 

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Her daughter wants to move in because she feels she needs her mother's 'emotional support' during her divorce.

There's no doubt about it, what the woman's 24-year-old daughter Mallory is going through is incredibly challenging. A young mother of two children ages two and six months, Mallory's husband has decided to leave her for another woman. 

"Mallory is understandably distraught," the mom writes. "I’ve been doing all I can to comfort her." But Mallory's requests for support have gone to a level the mom isn't comfortable with. "She asked if she could move in with me... [and] assured me she isn’t looking for childcare." She says Mallory also "offered to pay rent and chip in on groceries."

"I have always raised my kids to be independent," she writes. And while she didn't "kick them out at 18," Mallory moved out at 19 and immediately got into her now-ending marriage. She worries that "going from me to husband then back to me" is "moving backwards," and thinks her daughter needs to "learn to live independently."

"I offered to pay first month, last month and a deposit, along with 6 months rent," she writes, but her daughter "does well for herself" and says "it's not about the money... She just wants emotional support... and just needs her mom right now." The mom replied that she can "do that with her living in her own place," a response her two sons have called "heartless."

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People on Reddit agreed the mom was heartless, but others on social media said she was just maintaining her parent/child boundaries.

"This is absolutely the equivalent of you asking your daughter for a place to stay once you can’t take of yourself and her sending you to a care home because she wants you to be independent," one angry Reddit user wrote.

Others were even harsher. "Poor excuse for a mother," one woman scolded. "She doesn't want your money she just wanted you. I hope she gets the support she needs elsewhere and cuts you off. As a mother I could I absolutely never do what you're doing.

But others weren't so sure that was fair. On Twitter, author Mikki Kendall chalked the controversy up to double standards in what we expect from moms versus dads.

Kendall went on to say that when she was in a similar situation, "8 months of rent would have been more than enough to make me feel supported." Many others agreed. One Twitter user felt deeply for the daughter's circumstances, but applauded the mom for maintaining her necessary parent/child boundaries.

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Experts say maintaining parent/child boundaries is vitally important when kids reach adulthood.

Of course, the mom on Reddit and her daughter are caught in an extraordinary circumstance—the collapse of a marriage, especially when kids are involved, is an incredibly high-stakes situation, and the daughter's desire for her mother's "emotional support" is certainly understandable, and maybe even necessary.

But experts say the Reddit mom isn't necessarily off-base in maintaining her parent/child boundaries. Licensed Clinical Social Worker Cheryl Gerson told us in 2021 that it's crucial for parents of adult children to maintain their own lives and identities, especially once they "start feeling that empty place [their kids] used to fill."

She says that for parents of adult children, oftentimes the "temptation is to try to get them to fill you up" by doing too much or trying to have too much say—moves that often lead to the type of over-bearing, manipulative adult child/parent relationships with which many of us are all too familiar.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Samantha Rodman Whiten gives similar advice. "Many parents believe that they should and will... always be there to help the adult child with all life tasks of adulthood," she recently told us. But this often leads to "an adult child who relies on the parent to the extent that" harms their other relationships, and parents who "cannot function if an adult child asserts boundaries."

And as the therapist in the TikTok below explains, a lack of parent/child boundaries can also lead to codependent relationships.



In the end, there are some situations in which we really do need our parents' support, and a divorce is certainly one of them. Hopefully, this mom and her daughter can find a way to strike a balance that meets both of their needs as they move through this challenging chapter.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.