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Mom Seeks Advice For Getting Her Daughter Out Of A Controlling Relationship — 'I Don't Want To Push Her Away From Me'

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mom and adult daughter arguing

A worried mother's story has taken to the internet to seek help about her daughter dating a potentially abusive man. Her post has sparked a discussion about the responsibility for and power parents have over their adult children. 

A mother is seeking advice for getting her 19-year-old daughter out of a controlling relationship.

Sharing her story to Reddit's "r/breakingmom," she explained that her 19-year-old daughter is about to graduate with a bachelor's degree. She lives at home rent-free but has a job she uses to pay her car payment.

On the other hand, her current boyfriend dropped out of college and doesn't have a job or an independent living situation. He is heavily financially reliant on her, creating, in the mother's view, an imbalance in their relationship. 

"She pays for everything they do and loans him hundreds of dollars," the mom wrote. 

The mother voiced her concerns about the negative impact her daughter's relationship has had on her.

frustrated with my daughter making really poor choices reddit postPhoto: Reddit

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Her academic performance has declined, causing her to lose "tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships" and financial aid. She also detailed instances of the boyfriend physically abusing her daughter out of disagreement and using manipulative tactics. Furthermore, he exhibits misogynistic behaviors, which, according to the mother, her daughter justifies as a cultural aspect.

"He has slapped her in the face twice that I know of because she dared to disagree with him, he insults her, and manipulates her with guilt. [H]e's very misogynistic and when I point it out, she says it's his culture," the mother wrote.

She recounted how the boyfriend's constant presence has compromised her daughter's other relationships, including those with her employer, her friends, and even her sister. The boyfriend seems to have become the center of her daughter's universe, leading to her apparent withdrawal from all other activities. To add to it, the young man displayed alarming possessive behavior.

The mother's frustrations escalated to the point where she set a curfew time for her daughter to return home. However, she questioned the appropriateness of grounding her grown-up daughter and sought advice for other approaches to address this situation. 

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Experts say one of the best things parents can do when an adult child is in a toxic relationship is to play a strong supporting role.

"We cannot make somebody see or do what they do not want to see or do," Sisto Robinson, a woman whose sister's abusive relationship cost her her life, told PsychCentral. As a parent who has spent the child's entire life attempting to do just that, when that child reaches adulthood, your ability to do so diminishes. In fact, doing so may only push the adult child away more, making the situation even worse.

If "she is already being controlled by her partner," Clare Murphy, Ph.D. has explained, "instinctive reactions" such as grounding her, for example, "might seem controlling to her and will drive a wedge between you and send her more deeply into dependency on him."

Instead of trying to force your hand, experts suggest empowering adult children to make their own decisions and letting them know you're there to support them no matter what. 

"Find ways to support her that keep the doors open and that let her know you are there for her in the long run," Murphy suggested. "Offering a loving, kind compassionate, concerned and non-judgemental presence creates trust."

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Ethan Cotler is a writer and frequent contributor to YourTango living in Boston. His writing covers entertainment, news, and human interest stories.