Dad worries himself into daughter's trap

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Amy Dickinson, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

DEAR AMY: I have a daughter, 20, who basically won't do anything expected of her.

She won't keep her room clean (it looks like a nuclear bomb went off), nor will she do anything else I ask of her (which is not much). And now she doesn't even come home at night.

She keeps throwing in my face the fact that she is 20 and an adult with an almost full-time job (minimum wage, 32 hours a week).

I have stated that as of next month I am signing her car over to her and she needs to start paying her own insurance. The month after that she will start paying $20 a week for room and board. I told her adulthood starts now. That did not go over well.

Her mother kicked her out a year ago, knowing she had a place to live with me. If something were to happen to her because I kicked her out I would probably step in front of a truck, so I can't do that.

Am I approaching this wrong? I don't know what else to do except kick her out. My life has become miserable, and I hate even going home. -- Mike

DEAR MIKE: As long as you sincerely believe that your daughter being on her own would lead to disaster, culminating in you "stepping in front of a truck," she has you right where she wants you.

The fact is, if she is staying out all night, ramming around and basically defying you at every turn, her lifestyle is already pretty risky. It would be best if she left the household.

Signing the car over to her, along with its expenses -- is good (she's lucky she's receiving it).

Charging her $20 a week for "room and board" creates a false economy, leading her to believe that $20 a week is all it costs to support herself.

Here's an action plan for you: You say, "Honey, it's been real. I love you very much. You have six weeks to find another place to live." She will act out. She will flail and rail against the injustice of it all. You should not react to this.

Help her research single rooms or apartments to share. Otherwise, let her handle it.

Warning: Do not do this unless you develop a spine. Making this statement and then letting her manipulate you out of it would be worse than not doing it at all.

DEAR AMY: For over a year I've been dating my best friend's brother. She had some negative feelings about it when it began, but she seemed to come to terms with our relationship.

Unfortunately, lately she has become distant and has stopped communicating with me. The cold shoulder is unwarranted. I've always been supportive of her, but she won't resolve whatever issue she has with me.

A friend suggested that because I'm dating her brother maybe she sees me more as a sibling than friend, and that's why she's being so cold. I don't think it's appropriate or fair to only be my friend when she needs me, but not when I need her.

Can you help me confront her? -- Lost

DEAR LOST: If being a quasi-sibling means that this friend freezes you out, then that doesn't speak well for sibling relationships. The thing about being a sibling is that you are basically forced to confront problems (eventually), because siblings have a way of turning up -- at holidays, etc., over the course of a lifetime.

Marshal the bravery to say to her, "I wish you'd tell me what's eating you. I miss our friendship and would like to work things out." It would be hard for her to put up her dukes in the face of such gentle prodding.


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