Help me approach this from the view-point of a 19-year-old
July 17, 2014 11:20 AM   Subscribe

My daughter wants to move out and in with her boyfriend, and I think it would be a giant mistake.

Important points:

- I am not suffering from empty-nest sadness; she's gone much of the time anyway, and I am completely emotionally OK with her moving out.
- I have no moral or other problems with the idea of her living with her boyfriend.

My daughter recently completed her first semester of college (while living at home), did very badly, was very unhappy, and recently made the decision not to return to school, at least not for a while. I'm unhappy about this as I have learned first-hand how very difficult life is without at least a bachelors degree, and how hard it can be to return to school at an older age. But I know it's her decision to make, and I support her.

She now works close to full-time at a department store, a job she adores, and makes decent money (for her age and skill level--above minimum wage with a small commission). She spends a lot of time (perhaps 4 or 5 nights out of 7) staying with her slightly older boyfriend of a year and a half, who shares a small apartment with his student brother. The boyfriend is a nice guy who treats her respectfully.

My daughter has always itched to be a grown-up, living independently, even as a little kid. Now she's desperate to move in with her boyfriend. We have talked about it several times now, with me very strongly discouraging her, citing the financial realities of living on your own. We live in the Boston area, where rents are astronomical, and where she intends to stay. After every conversation she has conceded that I was right, and it seems to be a bad idea. Then a week or two later, she forgets all the arguments and becomes determined once again to move out.

Boyfriend recently lost his job as a cook and is looking for another. Also, his lease is ending soon and the rent has been increased, so he and his brother feel they can't stay in their current place. Brother is moving in with friends, so boyfriend needs to find a place by September 1st, and is currently unemployed. My daughter is feeling his pressure as her own pressure to get an apartment with him.

Again, I presented the financial facts to her: she makes only about $21,000 (with no job security, paid time off, or benefits), the cheapest place she could find for them will cost at least $1000, the 1/3 rule for housing costs, moving expenses (at the very least 2 months rent and stuff for the new apartment) and the other expenses of life. I am also trying to instill in her the important need to save money, especially if she does want to return to school down the road. Not to mention that the boyfriend may very well not have a job by September 1st, and even if he does, he may not even get his first paycheck by mid or end of August). She once again conceded that I'm right, but I know she's not truly convinced. Her emotions are pulling her away from the facts, and her emotions are very strong and becoming irresistable. She's treating the situation as one where I'm not "allowing" her to move out. She told me her friends are rallying round and telling her to "just move out!" I have tried to explain that that's not the case, that I'm trying to convince her of the reality of the situation, not impose some discipline on her. I have even told her that the boyfriend can move in with us, either temporarily until he finds a job and a new apartment, or on a more permanent or indefinite basis. Understandably, he's very reluctant to do this, and I don't blame him at all. But our apartment is set up in a way that would allow them a great deal of privacy, and even my daughter admits that I'm a very understanding and liberal parent who wouldn't interfere with them. They could share a bedroom away from the rest of the house and even have another room to socialize, also with lots of privacy.

While she is generally a very cheery girl, very intelligent, caring, compassionate, helpful, and sensible in so many ways, she has a history of and still has problems with regulating her emotions and impulse control. She can feel very, very happy and very, very sad, and can get overwhelmed by her feelings. When she feels a certain way, she often feels completely unable to resist those feelings and act on them. While she has done very well learning techniques to cope with this and learn regulating skills (DBT), she still struggles with this. And I see the current situation as another instance of her emotions (creating an ideal, perfect grown-up life as a couple) feeling irresistable.

What can I say to her to help her dial down the emotions and not just feel like her mean mommy isn't letting her do what she wants?
posted by primate moon to Human Relations (66 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
What can I say to her to help her dial down the emotions and not just feel like her mean mommy isn't letting her do what she wants?

"You need help moving?"
posted by hal_c_on at 11:24 AM on July 17, 2014 [56 favorites]

She's an adult. You had 19 years to instill values about saving money, etc., now it is time to let go and let her make her own decisions. Commiserate about her mistakes, celebrate her successes.

Don't let the bf move in with you. If she moves out, you're her safety net.
posted by arnicae at 11:24 AM on July 17, 2014 [45 favorites]

I think it's TOTALLY reasonable that she intends to move out. I can't imagine living at home after age 18. I think it would be better for her to live with a few friends instead of a boyfriend, because of the inherent instability of living with a significant other who you aren't engaged to (at age 19) -- but that's her choice to make.

One idea to support her continuing her schooling, which you feel is a priority for her -- if it's possible for you: Tell her that if she starts taking community college courses and gets Bs and above, you'll pay her rent.

(Many parents support their children to some extent, if possible, through age 22, as long as they are enrolled in college and making clear progress toward a degree.)
posted by amaire at 11:25 AM on July 17, 2014 [13 favorites]

At some point, you're just going to have to let her make her own mistakes and learn from them.

I was in pretty much the same boat as your daughter, dropped out of college at 19, worked retail and lived with my boyfriend, was ridiculously poor (worse than paycheck to paycheck, got horrible credit because I just could not pay the bills).

Eventually I grew up and turned things around, went back to school and then on to a master's degree. Not saying this happens every time, but I think I needed to learn how I DIDN"T want to live as a kick in the butt to do things to change my circumstances.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:26 AM on July 17, 2014 [13 favorites]

I disagree with you, actually. I think struggling on my own at a young age was a valuable experience. Nothing inspired me to go back to college more than a miserable year working as a diner waitress when I was 19. She can make it. And it sounds like you're supportive and loving, so if EVERYTHING GOES TO SHIT she's got a safe place to come back to and regroup.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 11:27 AM on July 17, 2014 [61 favorites]

Help me approach this from the view-point of a 19-year-old

She doesn't care about "the financial realities" or any of that- she wants to be an adult. In America, living at home strangles your ability to be an adult.

She will probably fuck up tremendously at some point or other. 19 is an idea age to do that, as she can most likely bounce back from it. Let her learn to fail.

However, I'd probably tell her she should wait until BF has a job again.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:27 AM on July 17, 2014 [16 favorites]

Let her move out! There are some things she is only going to learn through experience. I mean, it sucks to be you in this situation because you know all the ways this can go wrong and you're probably right and you're going to end up cleaning up all the messes. But she's old enough, earning enough (well, you know, sort of enough) and she's motivated enough. So don't fight with her about this. Let her go and let her deal with the consequences. Oh and when it goes terribly wrong, please resist the temptation to say you told her so ...
posted by yogalemon at 11:28 AM on July 17, 2014

The years during and after college when I was poor and struggling were invaluable in teaching me how to live on my own, solve my own problems, and manage my own money. You should let her go.
posted by something something at 11:29 AM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

She's never been outside of the nest. She doesn't know how hard it is. Sink or swim. Maybe she'll make it, maybe she won't...but either way she'll learn a whole helluva lot and she'll be okay.
posted by inturnaround at 11:30 AM on July 17, 2014

Let her go fail. And then let her come back...

Ps- dont let her bring her boyfriends with her! Letting them all stay with you is a baaaaaaaaaad idea. Be HER home, but not his home.

Then when she decides to dump him, you're still a safe place!
posted by misspony at 11:31 AM on July 17, 2014 [44 favorites]

Give her your support, make sure she knows you love her and that it's an experiment and that if she decides to end it, it won't be a failure of adulthood, just time to try something different.

I think getting to experience this kind of challenge at 19 could be extremely motivating in one's overall life.

Do try to help her not to get pregnant while trying this though.

And definitely don't bring the boyfriend into the house. It's not likely they will last forever and your place, that she can retreat to when needed, shouldn't also be his place.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:31 AM on July 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'd say help her figure out a budget and expenses. Be realistic, but not overly pessimistic. Encourage her to save, but it's her choice. If the two of you can't make it add up now, work with her to figure out what she would need to do to change that situation.
posted by aubilenon at 11:31 AM on July 17, 2014

Doesn't sound like she and the boyfriend would be able to get the first/last month's rent and security deposit together by 9/1 anway, so isn't this kind of moot? The realities of money will damper her enthusiasm on its own, I think.
posted by spaltavian at 11:32 AM on July 17, 2014 [18 favorites]

I think you're a great mother - you are doing your best to prepare her for life. You've calmly and rationally laid out why her reasons aren't the best, financially, and you've offered another solution to her. The fact that you can even sit down with her, and talk about all of this, shows what a strong relationship you have.

But, you have to let her go. You have done all you can. You can offer her a place if it doesn't work out, but she wants to move out, so she will.

You might want to schedule a financial advising session with a professional for her - they can help her figure out budgets and retirement options and savings. It will be neutral advice. Maybe buy her a copy of youneedabudget or set her up with Then, take a deep breath, and let her go.
posted by umwhat at 11:32 AM on July 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

Let her.

I moved in with my GF at 19. It went predictably poorly. And then got worse.

But none of that was life shattering sorts of destruction. I look back on it fondly, and sort of miss how naive and earnest I was then.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:35 AM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Pay for her contraception. And therapy, if she'll go.

You have to let her get kicked in the teeth herself here. Do not enable the boyfriend. Be there enough that she hopefully remembers she can leave if things get bad, and that she knows what bad is.

As long as she doesn't have a baby with him, she can only screw up so badly.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:36 AM on July 17, 2014 [34 favorites]

Our instinct as parents is to protect out children from harm. Outside harm, and the harm they might do themselves. We have the benefit of experience that they do not, and can often see things that might hurt them way before they can.

However, raising children that are independent and can functionally take care of themselves sometimes means letting allowing them to take risks which we would prefer to protect them from. One of the ways your daughter will learn to regulate her emotions and develop further impulse control as an adult is through personal experiences which teach her that not doing so can be risky.

You sound like a wonderful mom. Loving, caring and with a healthy, helpful attitude towards your daughter. I suggest you let her try. If she fails, the lessons she learns will be invaluable. If it works out, then she'll learn other, invaluable lessons about what living independently entails.
posted by zarq at 11:37 AM on July 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

Be clear as to what your financial boundaries are*, wish her well and let her go. Be there if she decides she wants to come back.

*It's not clear from your post whether she's hoping for financial help from you with this? If not, then as someone said above, it's presumably a moot point whether you want her to go or not - if she can afford it, she's free to do it, so you might as well give her your blessing. If she can't afford it, and you're not providing financial support for the move, she can't go anyway.
posted by penguin pie at 11:38 AM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

I dropped out of college at 20 and not only moved in with my girlfriend but moved across the country with her. With roughly as much planning and foresight as one would expect from a 20 year old. It didn't work out, we broke up, I moved back, life went on and it's ten years later and I've got a pretty good thing going for me.

All I can tell you is that you're not going to keep her from moving out and you're almost guaranteed to get a "hey mom I need a favor..." phonecall. If you have the means to help her out when she makes that call, I suggest you do, just because a 19 year old has no idea how an ill-advised loan or a bunch of credit card debt will seriously screw them down the line. Far more than not learning about personal responsibility for a little longer.

And absolutely seconding about paying for contraception.
posted by griphus at 11:38 AM on July 17, 2014 [9 favorites]

now is the time to make mistakes and mom, you've got to let her make them. (if this is a mistake; time will tell.)

and it is true, nothing motivates you for college like 2 years in a going-nowhere service job.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:38 AM on July 17, 2014

19 is an excellent age to learn the harsh realities of stupid choices. It's nice if one can learn from observing others, but if it's got to be firsthand, then the younger the better.
posted by The World Famous at 11:39 AM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Let her move out. Do not let her boyfriend sign a lease with her. Do everything you can do to encourage her to get a place she can afford on her own or with one friend. On her own would be most ideal. Boyfriend can come over often but should pay rent and look for his own place.

Tell her this: "I am always, always on your side and not your boyfriend's. I know you love him, but the very instant he isn't good to you, you can ALWAYS come back to your mother. I won't ask questions, I won't scold. I'll help you."

Make it a woman thing, not just a mom thing, too. Because it's the right thing to do.
posted by quincunx at 11:40 AM on July 17, 2014 [24 favorites]

She just wants to do it, she's gonna do it. Help her do it and don't harp on it so that if it turns out to be a mess, she can come back to you for help and she will know she still has your respect and she will not lose face. Don't set yourself up as the person who knows everything while she knows nothing. It will make her feel small at a time when she needs to be taking some adult steps, getting some screw ups under her belt, and coming back from them.

There is basically almost no way you can win this one unless she comes to the conclusion on her own that she doesn't want to move in with him.

Nineteen is a pretty good age for screw-ups as long as they're not life altering. There is not a lot of long-term damage to be had here, and instilling in her a sense of confidence in her ability to pilot her life is the best thing you can do, long term.

Also, if you're going on and on about how terrible an idea this is, she's not going to want to live under your roof with her boyfriend either, because you do not come off as supportive, you come off as a know-it-all bummer. (I'm sorry to put it that way. I'm a mom, too, and also a former 19-year-old fuck up. *I* don't think you're a bummer. I think you're trying to prevent your kid from doing something dumb, which is a perfectly nice thing to want to do.)
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:42 AM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

The problem is, while she can always move back home, I can't help her financially AT ALL. I am unemployed, in school til I graduate with MY first bachelors in December, and dependent on her dad financially. And he can't help her financially either. So we are unable to provide her with a safety net, apart from a room back home. And she really has to be saving for when she goes back to school, as we can't pay for it.

Yeah, I was a 19 year old fuck-up (not 'cause I wanted to move out, but my parents withdrew all support, financially and otherwise, just 'cause that's what you did when your kid turned 18), and still haven't ever recovered financially, though I'm in my 50s.
posted by primate moon at 11:43 AM on July 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

Tell her all that, clearly, and in the most supportive way possible.
posted by The World Famous at 11:46 AM on July 17, 2014 [10 favorites]

If the boyfriend is unemployed, they won't be able to make proof of monthly income 3x or 4x rent or whatever most respectable landlords/property managers ask for during the application process. In a rental market as tight as Boston I doubt they will find anyone to rent to them who isn't shady. Let her look and help her make up a budget and fill out applications but DO NOT offer to cosign, and let her get turned down and steer her away from anything that's a scam, and maybe it will actually stick that she can't afford this, rather than you just telling her she can't afford it. She will have to move out sooner or later and she might as well practice apartment hunting skills (critical adult skill especially on the east coast) at a time when she isn't in a situation where she has to move immediately because her landlord or roommates are screwing her over or she just broke up with the boyfriend.
posted by slow graffiti at 11:48 AM on July 17, 2014 [9 favorites]

So we are unable to provide her with a safety net, apart from a room back home.

That is the only safety net you really need to provide for her. If she can make moving out happen on her own, give her moral support and encouragement. If it goes bad and she needs to move back home, let her. I agree with everyone who said absolutely don't let the boyfriend move in with you.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:49 AM on July 17, 2014 [33 favorites]

If you haven't, make it totally, unmistakably clear-as-a-bell that financial assistance is out of the question regardless of how necessary it is for her and how much you'd like to provide it if you could.

And if you haven't discuss with her the financial repercussions of things like credit card debt, cash advances, payday loans and other instruments and places she might turn to for cash money. Because the companies that will (gladly and with a smile) hand her over the cash will go out of their way to avoid discussing why it is they're giving money to someone with no assets.
posted by griphus at 11:52 AM on July 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

I will try to answer your actual question about thinking like a 19 year old:

When I was 19, I was mostly thinking with my pelvis. Thus, my parents could not have competed with my boyfriend. Cuz sex!

Try to make sure she is on birth control. If she does not have a baby, nearly anything else can be fixed, with greater or lesser degrees of pain. And let her go do this.

I got married at 19. We were together more than 2 decades. It was not a disaster. He was unemployed when I married him. I paid for our secret little elopement. He got a job 2 weeks later and eventually got into the military like he was planning. I am sure I looked to my parents like the biggest ditz that ever did ditz. I feel like my choices worked out better than my more "sensible" older siblings. (Though I imagine they would disagree -- so, whatever. Point being that I do not regret it.)

The only real way to know if they can make it work is to let them try. That's it. All the speculation in the world won't answer that question. Letting her go test reality is the only way any of you will get a real answer.
posted by Michele in California at 11:54 AM on July 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

This problem will be solved when no one rents to them. Sorry to say, the Boston area housing market is not one where people are itching to rent to unemployed teenagers.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:57 AM on July 17, 2014 [26 favorites]

Tell her that you hope the new living situation works out well, and if she wants to come back, the door is open. I know there's a good chance of problems, but as long as she doesn't get pregnant, she can undo the move with little harm done.

If you think she might want to ask you for money in the future, mention now that paying her own way is essential to adult responsibility. Of course it would be okay to say no to a loan when the matter comes up, but if you think it could be an issue, you might as well be clear about it ahead of time.
posted by wryly at 12:01 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

People learn things by making mistakes.

She knows your views, so tell her you love her and it's up to her, but that she needs to be clear that you're not in a position to help support her financially.
posted by jasper411 at 12:01 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I will add something my sister noted when a young girl she knew moved out on her own while making not much money:

My sister said "It's different when you are young." And she talked about how, for my sister, who was older and had a more established career, not having money for savings or a retirement fund or certain expenses was just unimaginable but those things were just not missed by this young woman. In fact, they were not yet on her radar. Most 19 year olds are not yet planning for retirement. So sometimes young people can squeak by on incomes that older folks think "No way!" about.

But, yeah, the young rope-rider has a point. I did not move out of my parent's house until my husband got into the Army. So it is entirely possible that your question is moot. It is entirely possible that she and her currently unemployed bf simply won't be able to get anyone to rent to them. So you might find yourself in a week or three being asked if he can move in or something when they test reality and find that, nope, this is a non-starter. It can't even be gotten off the ground.
posted by Michele in California at 12:14 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I suppose if you're willing to have this conversation with her you could tell her that she can stay at home and the boyfriend can sleep over X nights a week and can visit for sex whenever as long as he goes home at night but he cannot live there.

I mean, if she's just moving out to have sex. She probably wants to play house too, but you should not pay for her to do so or to have to throw his ass out yourself later.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:15 PM on July 17, 2014

The theme song from Frozen is playing in my head right now with a slight moderation, she instead of it.

You have to let her go and mess up her life in a terrible, truly un-fixable way. And then you have to let her fix it. I'm sorry.

Right now, she is spending so much time trying to convince you that she needs to do this that she isn't thinking about how hard it is to do. Stop fighting her and help her make plans to move. Maybe she will see what a mistake it is and stay home a little longer. Maybe she won't. Either way, you will be doing the right thing.
posted by myselfasme at 12:18 PM on July 17, 2014

This problem will be solved when no one rents to them.

Agreed. If you, her dad, or her boyfriend's parents can't cosign, this is not going to happen. Which is why I think you should be totally supportive of them moving in together, and offer all the moral and practical support you can, so that they will take your advice seriously when you warn them about living in the sorts of sketchy places that will accept them as tenants.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 12:19 PM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yikes! Not what I was looking for at all, but you are all right. I am humbled once again by you Me-Fites, and grateful.
posted by primate moon at 12:21 PM on July 17, 2014 [11 favorites]

Hoping this will be helpful. I have a friend with a 19 year old daughter who is going out with a sadistic, domineering monster who treats her like dirt. She says she's thinking of marrying him.

I've begged him, his second wife (not her mother) has begged him, all his friends who know the daughter have begged talk to her, to do something about this, to save her from what will quite obviously be a very very very bad scene. We all see it and she doesn't. She's always been a bit oblivious. Young love, etc.

But his answer made sense to me. He hates the guy. Sees the problems. Would like to strangle him. But people love who they love, people have bad scenes, people eventually get out of bad scenes and move on. And since she's over 18 years, even if she's still childish and immature, she has the same right to cause herself pain and misery that any of the rest of us do. It would be as wrong and as futile to try to interfere as it would be to interfere with any other adult. It would be disrespectful.

She knows what dad thinks of the boyfriend. It's not a secret. But, hey, she's going to do what she does, and he's bucking up and letting her walk off the cliff without adding that weight to his burden. He's doing it out of respect, and with love. I admire the heck out of this.

In a few years, your parents will start declining. They, too, will make poor decisions, some of which will affect them quite badly, and you'll scramble to try to find a way to stave this off. But, in the end, everyone is allowed to fuck up his/her life, it's one of the unalienable rights.
posted by Quisp Lover at 12:28 PM on July 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

No matter whether or not you want to let her go or not, it doesn't really seem possible that two teenagers with a combined household income below $22k/year are going to be able to find an apartment at all.

Brother is moving in with friends, so boyfriend needs to find a place by September 1st, and is currently unemployed. My daughter is feeling his pressure as her own pressure to get an apartment with him.

To me, if you want to discourage her, this is the angle to take. Moving in with a boyfriend because he's pressuring her to do so when she's 19 years old sounds like a pretty bad idea. Moving out should be something she does when she's independent and ready to do so--not because someone else wants her to do so.

Relationships change dramatically when couples move in together, not always for the best.
posted by inertia at 12:29 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have a suspicion only in the US is 19 considered too young to move out. Most of the Aussie teenagers I know move out as soon as High School is finished & they either have a job or have gone to Uni.

Let her go with good grace, let her know the door is always open so that if or when this doesn't work out, she knows she has a safe place to go. When she comes back don't say I told you so. Help her if she screws up.

Everyone has to learn for themselves that the stove is hot or the paint is wet.
posted by wwax at 12:33 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Let her learn and let her know that her old room is always available to her. Or even better, move to a smaller, cheaper place and let her know she can always couch surf.

No one is asking you to contribute monitarily, and if asked feel free to say, "I wish I could, but I'm strapped for cash too."

She may get a second job, she may have to sell something to make rent. It's all learning.

I would advise her not to sign a year lease. In this instance, month-to-month may be the way to go.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:46 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't move in with an unemployed roommate, and would advise against it. See this, as well.
posted by theora55 at 12:47 PM on July 17, 2014

I have a suspicion only in the US is 19 considered too young to move out.

It's not, and this isn't a US thing. She's not too young to move out, she's too broke. Especially to support someone else too with no prospects or school. I was only able to move out when I was 17 due to what was left over from my scholarship/student loans after tuition and that was still working full time while at school.
posted by spaltavian at 1:06 PM on July 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

Hi primate moon, I think it's great that you're such a caring and concerned mom! And I think it's great that your daughter is so determined to create an adult life for herself: she tried college and decided it's not for her (right now) and then immediately found a good (for her right now) job that she loves at that! I feel a successful 1.5-year-relationship at 19 is a positive thing, and it sounds like her boyfriend is quite responsible, too; I hope he can find a new job quickly. I am among the others who think that it's be best for them to live on their own but ultimately you, your daughter, and her boyfriend know what's best for your lives right now. Yes, Boston is super expensive but I bet they could find something with enough time and some savings: perhaps simply having a move-out goal of six months would be helpful for everyone? She could save, her boyfriend could find the job, they both can do active planning, and you can rest (a little more) assured that they'll create as good a plan as possible.

If I may ask a practical question: does she have health care coverage through you? If not, I totally recommend she apply for it: I have insurance through work, fortunately, but have lower income friends and family in their 20s who now have great coverage at a fabulous price thanks to the Affordable Care Act. (And, as you probably already know, this also covers free birth control!)

As for the last paragraph of your first post, I think a lot of the fighting and her reaction to it are not a sign of immaturity or instability on her part but rather her loving and appreciating what you've done and continue to do while also yearning to live an independent life -- and wanting for you to recognize that she's coming from a good place. It sounds like, no matter what, she can turn to you for advice or come back home if necessary; having that reassurance is surely empowering to her -- even if it'd seem like a downer for her to think about returning right now -- and a compliment to you as a parent. I wish you all the best of luck!
posted by smorgasbord at 1:09 PM on July 17, 2014

Yeah, I was a 19 year old fuck-up (not 'cause I wanted to move out, but my parents withdrew all support, financially and otherwise, just 'cause that's what you did when your kid turned 18), and still haven't ever recovered financially, though I'm in my 50s.

I totally think this is a valid point. I also moved out at 18 and proceeded to be a financial wreck forever after. I am learning how to budget right now at 40.

SO I say, support her moving out (you probably can't sway her anyway), but do what you can to support her budgeting skills. I know you are broke too, but consider getting her You Need a Budget (the only really good budgeting software I've found) as a housewarming present. And watch the tutorials with her - it's not intuitive.

You can't stop her making a financially silly decision right now, but maybe you can help build long-term habits. It's a project you could even do together as a way to stay connected when she leaves.
posted by latkes at 1:16 PM on July 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

Anecdata: I moved out of my parents' house and moved in with my boyfriend literally the day I turned 18. I was a jobless full-time student and he waited tables. Now 10 years later, we are married working professionals who make way more money than either of our parents. It might seem scary now, and it IS a little scary, but 19 is young and there is plenty of time for mistakes to be made, lessons to be learned, and financial security to be attained.
posted by Librarypt at 1:17 PM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

I just want to address one part of your question, where you mention that going back to school later is hard, as you've found in your own experience.

Speaking as someone who's gone back to school later (for grad school, but I was older than most of my classmates), and who's been a TA and had a wide variety of ages as my students--while it's harder to fit in, the older students did, on average, much better than the younger ones, because they had the advantage of already knowing what they wanted out of life, or at least what they didn't want, and had the maturity to settle down and get through it, even when trying to juggle jobs and families. If she's not ready for college right now, she's not going to have a good experience and probably won't do as well as she will in a few years.
posted by telophase at 1:35 PM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

I distinctly remember a discussion I had with my parents when I was 17, it was around 1994, and I stated that I could definitively live on 10,000k / year, with roommates, etc., as I had "done the math."

My parents tried to talk me out of it, but in the end I left, and moved in with a buddy in his basement apartment. The full consequences of my decision were quickly made evident to me, and I realized I had been overly gracious in my calculations to say the least.

About 6 months later my parents begged me to come back, and I was happy to oblige. Eating once a day is not really fun.
posted by Debaser626 at 1:55 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

My parents let me know that they didn't approve of me moving in with my boyfriend at around the same age. I was struggling with rent and some unstable roommates and I had a health problem that could be embarrassing around people I didn't know (e.g. more new roommates). I moved in with my boyfriend. My parents made it clear they didn't approve and that I was living in sin and so on. They cut off the very tiny amount they were contributing to my tuition.

As I was moving in with my boyfriend, he threatened to kill me. Traumatized, I couldn't bear to tell my parents, since I was already doing something so wrong. Beyond that, I rapidly began to see it was a really bad idea, but I felt like I had already done something so bad (livng with boyfriend) and it was clear my parents had cut me off. Later, when he actually did become physically abusive, I kept silent for two weeks before going to friends who helped me get the hell out before he could do something like that ever again. Fortunately, I got out, there were only the two incidents (the threat and the very much later physical abuse incident), and I washed my hands of him. I had next to no money, sometimes made poor decisions (walking long distances in dark at night to avoid taxi; eating crap food) and really could have used more support from my family when I moved out too.

Please, tell your daughter that, while you may have some concerns and you encourage her to think things through, you will help her move and that she must be so excited. Tell her that you will also help her move if they move again, that you will help if she has second thoughts, that she can always come for a weekend or a night or a month if she needs a break, that you will help if they want to separate, that you will help if she needs you at 3 am and that she does not have to stay in a situation that she no longer likes. Tell her you hope this is a wonderful experience for her and you support her decision and independence. But tell her you will drop everything to help if she ever needs it or even if her boyfriend decides it isn't working and that your love and support is not conditional on her living situation or relationship. And tell her that this applies to any relationship now or in the future and even if she's been married for 20 years. That you will support any decisions she makes, because you support her and you're there for her. And you hope that her boyfriend turns out to be another person who can be there for her in the same way and that she's off for a grand adventure and love and fun.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 3:16 PM on July 17, 2014 [17 favorites]

I would say try to talk to her like an adult, a colleague, a friend - not an irresponsible, silly child. I wish my mother would had done that - I would have been so much more receptive to what she was saying.

Explain to her the realities of your/her father's financial situation -- don't sugarcoat it, tell her the real, complete story. That you, as her mother, are of course worried about her, but that she's her own person and can make her own path. Say that she has a room at your house, whenever she needs it; but you can't help with money and you can't cosign an apartment - not out of spite, but because your financial situation doesn't allow it. She can come home whenever - no questions asked. [It is important that you avoid, as much as possible, any talk of "when you see that I'm right" or "when you see what a mistake it was" "I cant wait to say 'I told you so'"-- don't make her too ashamed to ask for help if she eventually needs it.] Tell her that you can help her get birth control if she needs it (maybe she'd be interested in an IUD) -- not that you think she's not smart/responsible enough to get it, just that if she needs help with it in any way, that you can assist her. Maybe invite her and the boyfriend over for a weekly family meal (to feed them, yes, but mostly to check up on her regularly - including the boyfriend will give you mother-daughter karma points).

But, all of that said, I agree with others that they will have trouble even finding an apartment.

Edit: Oh, as an attorney, I have to say, make sure she understands joint and several liability before she signs a lease.
posted by melissasaurus at 3:19 PM on July 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

Tell her you'll even help her move as long as she doesn't take a lease longer than six month.

Enjoy your six months, but keep the bedroom free.

If, after six months, she renews the lease, you've got a spare room.

Otherwise, help her move back, a wiser child.

Seriously, she's old enough to spread her wings.

Two excellent thoughts above: Contraception and a short talk on why boyfriends will not be living with you.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:19 PM on July 17, 2014


[Periodic gentle reminder to folks to not use the edit feature to add content to comments after the fact. If you need to add another thought/sentence/clarification after you hit post, just make another comment.]

posted by cortex at 3:50 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I disagree that 19 is high time to move out, especially if it involves moving in with an SO. Living in a college dorm or something is hardly the same as finding an apartment, dealing with a live-in relationship, working full-time, and trying to stay financially independent. A lot of people live in college housing (or with parents) till age 22, and still manage to mature into adulthood.

Let her move in with roommates. (Alone won't be financially feasible, it sounds like, and the bf will probably end up moving in with her anyway.) Moving in with the bf is a rehashed version of going from your parents house straight to your spouse's house. She needs to learn to be an adult, true, but she also needs to be on her own for a while.
posted by redlines at 4:21 PM on July 17, 2014

Perhaps allowing her to read the stories of others who've done something similar may help? These experiences could be positive or negative - but at the very least it may arm her with knowledge on how to approach this situation and what kind of outcomes could be expected.

That said, in my late teens/early 20s I was working a retail job, barely making above min wage and I too was desperate to finally get out of my parents' house and be independent. Moving in with my (now ex) boyfriend was a goal of moving out as well, but the plan was for me to establish the apartment first and then he would move in at a later time. Roughly halfway through saving for moving expenses (1st Month/Last + Deposit), things got complicated: my boyfriend lost his apartment (much like your daughters' boyfriend), and unless I got an apartment we could share right away, he'd have to move back in with his parents (who lived in another state).

So I searched, signed a lease and got an apartment before I should've. It was a disaster. My boyfriend moved in nearly a week before I was even able to (and didn't help move any of my belongings - even though we'd be using them jointly). Like your daughters' boyfriend, he didn't have a job either (and didn't get one for 3 years). That meant my part-time, minimum wage retail job had to support rent, utilities, internet, cell phone, car insurance, gas and food for 2 people. I can't begin to tell you how broke I was and how quickly the situation slid downhill. All I did was work (retail job, freelance artwork). I couldn't afford to go anywhere. I couldn't afford to do anything. I couldn't afford good, healthy food (and often days ate nothing but toast). I felt more trapped than I had ever felt in my life - like I was in even less control than I was under my parents' roof.

If your daughter was aiming to move out on her own, I'd say let her do it. But having an unemployed boyfriend (even if he's an awesome, helpful guy) to take care of is NOT the leap into independence she's hoping it will be. It's going to be a tremendous struggle and a lot of work - is she prepared to be the sole breadwinner (and deal with the pressure/responsibility that comes with it) for the foreseeable future?
posted by stubbehtail at 4:40 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

People suck at taking advice, 19 year old people doubly so.

You've given your best advice. Now you get to sit back and watch your favorite person in the whole world suck at taking it.

This will suck.

I'm sorry.
posted by flabdablet at 7:04 PM on July 17, 2014

Moving out with roommates makes sense.

Moving in with boyfriend does not. I think having a relationship go on too long because you're already invested by moving in together too soon is a lesson most people seem to learn on their own.

I'd suggest moving into a shared house (more rooms = cheaper, too), rather than just in with the boyfriend. It can mediate some of the relationship issues, also.
posted by Elysum at 7:28 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

If no one will rent to her, maybe this will all come to nothing.

However, if you think she might indeed manage to find a place, here's something you could try saying to her:
Obviously I can't STOP you from moving out. Furthermore, as your mom, I love you and I'm proud of the amazing adult you've become, and I know you can handle living on your own.

What's freaking me out isn't you - it's how expensive rent is here.

Just because I've been on the planet longer, I've spent more time thinking about how to pay the rent and the rest of the bills than you have.

So I would like to ask your help so I can be a little less freaked out about this.

When we have to face hard situations we haven't faced before, it can be really helpful to rehearse.

So please, rehearse with me.

Let's go over your income and rent and bills for a whole year, so you can show me how the numbers shake out, so I don't have to worry that you'll be in the red from day one.

Let's talk about what happens if a big financial disaster hits you in month three. How will you talk about that with your boyfriend? Tell me the things you'll tell him when you two have to face something like that. What are some financial resources you can draw on to successfully deal with a big nasty financial disaster? I know you have the inner resources - I'm freaking out about the dollar resources.

I'm not really worried about you as a person living on your own. I'm worried about what happens if the money dries up - because I've had to deal with that, and I know how all-consuming and nightmarish it can be. I want to be your cheerleader as you move onto the next stage of your life. Can you just rehearse a few of these things with me so I'll know you've had a little practice when they come up?
posted by kristi at 9:49 PM on July 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

If she's that determined, she'll find some place willing to rent to her, even in Boston. It'll be sketchy as hell and she'll be the only one on the lease and it'll have bedbugs but she'll do it.

Give her all your love. When things go pear-shaped, especially as a fledgling, it's really hard to ask for help. She needs to feel absolutely confident knowing she can come home at any time.

Just don't give any signal that you're funding her as if she were a still a kid. She boomeranged back from college so quickly that she never made the kid->adult transition in her head, and she's still evaluating life choices like a teenager whose parents will swoop in to rescue her. You sound guilt-ridden about your ability to support her long-term - don't be. You've done your job for now. If she's going to do this she has to go into it knowing that it's not the 6th year of high school, it's her 1st year of pulling on her big girl pants, and she has one ticket back home in case of emergencies: for herself, unless her partner has earned a spot in your family via his love for you.
posted by SakuraK at 12:59 AM on July 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

She is 19. She is 19. She is an adult. You are there to help her be an adult and not continue to be a kid. She will make mistakes. Tell her you have misgivings but it is her decision.

I had girls, they all wanted to leave. My mother had some boys besides me. She still had them at home at 25. Your child seems to have some initiative. Plus, if she is on her own she may more easily qualify for financial aid for education once she is out long enough.

My advice to my children went something like this, I love you, call if you need something, I may be able to help you but for god's sake remember: do not get pregnant until you can take care of yourself and don't do something to end up in jail. (Leftovers available if you need food.)

Have faith in your parenting.
posted by OhSusannah at 8:01 AM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

"I know you wish your and X's financial situation was better so you could move in with him. I'm just your mom, giving you advice. You have the full power to move out, you are an adult now--I'm just one adult advising another adult that you just don't have the money for it now and I don't have the money to help you right now."
posted by Ironmouth at 8:05 AM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Some posters suggested saying that the boyfriend could stay over x nights in a week.

So as a reference point, when I worked at a youth residence (uk, ages 16-24)- for legal purposes... staying someplace 4 nights a week indicated residence.

If they regularly stayed 4 nights a week somewhere else, they weren't considered resident.

If they had the same guest over 4 nights a week regularly, we had to put a block on it- because legally the guest was residing with us.

So you could consider having the boyfriend stay 3 nights a week...
posted by misspony at 8:27 AM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I had a kid with same heart-driven approach to life - she felt things so deeply and whatever she felt was her truth. She was smart and logical when she wanted to be but her emotions trumped logic every time. (Past tense because five years later she is much more capable keeping logic in mind when she makes decisions).

Things I learned:
- Take a deep breath. Allow time (and the real world) to be your friend. As many people said, her plans may fall apart when she realizes that it is harder to rent a place than she thought.
- Be her ally, emphasize what you both agree on - You want to be safe, happy and independent. I want to be safe, happy and independent. You have a plan, I'm not sure the plan is realistic - let's figure this out.
- Don't stand in her way but continue to ask questions that encourage her to use her own logic. Designing a budget (in writing) is great. Instead of trying to convince her, ask her to show you how she is going to make it work.
- When she cycles back to wanting to move again, support the desire and refer back to the budget and ask what has changed - has she figured out a better way to make it work?
- in the meanwhile, talk about what you can to do recognize her increasing independence. Are there things you do that make her feel like a kid? (Letting me know where she was/when she would be back was a big us - seemed like a legitimate concern to me, felt like a curfew to her)
- keep reminding yourself it could be worse, nothing dreadful is actually happening right now, even if she makes some bad decisions, she can still bounce back.
- Remember, she has a lot going for her plus one really big advantage that you didn't have - a mother who is connect, supportive and care, who can help her figure out how to get what she wants in life once she figure out what that is going to be.
posted by metahawk at 11:44 AM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Perhaps allowing her to read the stories of others who've done something similar may help?

Yes, this. Make sure she has a circle of friends that she keeps in touch with to offer support. The thing is that for years I knew people who did more or less the same thing as your daughter, and seeing them go through that is what made it so blindingly obvious that it was a bad idea. Maybe your daughter is "that person" that all her friends will see as an example of why not go jump into moving in with someone young, but the important thing is to map out the practical matters about it, look at easier/more viable alternatives, and keep the bedroom at home ready and open.

I wouldn't go the, "I am so supportive of you! Let me help you move," route, but that is just me. Just because you're not going to stand in someone's way doesn't mean you have to actively help.
posted by deanc at 12:10 PM on July 18, 2014

I think it's fantastic that you want to keep her from going through the same hardship that you did. But please do not fall into a pattern in which you have to do all the thinking for her. I've seen a lot of mother-daughter relationships like that. It's very hard to break. Mother always feels the need to point out the obvious, daughter feels stupid for not having thought it through. I had a lot of friends like that in my late teens early 20s. Am I still friends with them? No, because the rest of us grew up and became adults and they didn't.
Let her figure out some consequences of her actions on her own, before you point them out to her. Or at least ask the questions in a way that leads her to believe that she came up with them on her own or with you, that she had it in her to think it through, she hadn't done it yet.
posted by Neekee at 8:36 AM on July 19, 2014

Since you had a rough time with moving out at that age, it makes sense to be worried that your daughter would suffer in similar ways. From a slightly different angle: I moved out at 20, "making" maybe 10-15k/year in student loans left after tuition was paid, and it was a good decision for me - just about literally saved my life by improving my mental health so much. My parents similarly had no financial assistance to offer me. I'm a bit of an exception in how careful I am with money (and of course very lucky with health, no abnormal expenses, etc etc), but it's absolutely possible for some people in some situations to live happily on a low income.

Yes, the math absolutely should be done first, and rent in particular needs to be in line with income. 1/3 is not strictly necessary though if you're careful with what you spend, which admittedly most 19 year olds are not, but a few are. I would suggest offering (rather than forcing) your help with budgeting, predicting expenses, etc.

But hey, even if she doesn't do anything responsible whatsoever to prepare and has no financial sense at all and fails miserably, what's the worst that happens? She moves back in with you and you're back where you started, right? She's an adult and has the right to crash and burn if that's what she wants. Just make sure she knows you have a couch she can crash on, and don't co-sign anything for her. Much much better than having a big fight over it now, and then later she doesn't feel comfortable crashing at your place and hits the streets or whatever instead.
posted by randomnity at 10:40 AM on July 20, 2014

I thought I'd check back in with an update.

I talked to my daughter, letting her know that I wouldn't stand in her way, would always support her and she would always have a home with me, and she was tearfully grateful. She emailed me the next morning (!) saying that she and boyfriend were probably moving to Connecticut (suburbs west of Hartford) in August. Yikes! Boyfriend's parents are bailing him out by paying for moving, loaning/giving any money needed for new apartment up front, and co-signing a lease once he finds a place. I am so, so dismayed by all this. I know she will hate living in the burbs, far away from friends and family, but she'll have to find that out on her own. Also, the boyfriend's parents pitching in like this feels like it's enabling my daughter as well, kind of undermining the whole situation. I think she might feel like she can depend on them to bail her out, and may not be as careful as she should learn to be.

But I'm proud to say that she's already very actively looking for another retail job down there and has a couple of interviews set up. (More than boyfriend can say!)

There's nothing I can do but support her. And I thank you all again for your terrific thoughts and suggestions.
posted by primate moon at 1:31 PM on July 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

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