Dear Annie: My 17-year-old daughter, “Kylie,” has had behavioral problems since she was 14. I am a single mother. I work full time and also have two sons, one of whom lives with his dad. Kylie was in a hospital for three months for various evaluations and recently lived in a residential home. She was released last October on the condition that she follow the house rules, obey curfew, finish high school, get a job and start looking at colleges. But Kylie never followed the rules. She would go out on Friday night and not return until Sunday morning. Every time she broke parole conditions, it would be reported. During this time, we had family counseling, and an individual clinician saw Kylie. They offered help with resumes, job applications and social activities.
In December, Kylie met a 24-year-old man and ran off with him. This young man was discharged from the military because of psychiatric issues. This scares me to no end. Kylie is now considered a missing person, although she’s been in contact via text, telling me to leave her alone. There is a warrant out to take them into custody. Since then, my home has been robbed of clothing, food and jewelry. I am sick over this.
Kylie will be 18 in two weeks. She has no remorse for what she’s done. People tell me to let her go, but how? I am angry, but I still love her. I am losing sleep, I’m scared in my own home, my 10-year-old can’t sleep alone, my work is suffering, and I’m a mess. I’ve talked to the police and am doing my own detective work to find her. I need help.
-- Worried Sick in Connecticut
Dear Connecticut: You are living every parent’s nightmare. We don’t expect you to stop loving Kylie, but you have another child who needs your protection. For your safety and that of your son, it’s time to let Kylie manage her own life, good or bad, sink or swim. If you can send her a text message, let her know you love her and wish her well, but she’s on her own. If she is using house keys to steal from you, change your locks. Report any break-ins to police. And please get some emotional support for yourself at Because I Love You (bily.org).
Dear Annie: I have relatives who cannot discuss certain topics without flying into a rage. I usually try not to engage, but it still hurts when they attack my beliefs and opinions.
How do I get them to calm down? I sometimes think it would be better if I cut them off completely. Your advice?
Dear Minnesota: If these are distant relatives, we recommend you avoid them as much as possible. If you are forced to be in their company, do not converse with them beyond superficial pleasantries. You are not obligated to respond to every question asked of you, and it would help if you didn’t take their comments so personally. People who cannot control themselves while socializing have anger management issues. If things get out of hand, say goodbye and walk out the door.
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