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I Am At The End Of The Rope With My 21 Year Old Daughter

by Hoda
(Beirut, Lebanon)

My daughter is now 21 years old. She was a brilliant child, top of her Class, best scouts for 2 years in a row, champion of Lebanon in Kung-Fu in her category (we are Lebanese and we live here in Beirut). She had it all going for her.

This was until Grade 9. She was a happy teenager, doing very well, at least on the surface. When she started her Grade 10, the school changed the HeadMaster and the new HeadMaster could not stand her exuberance, her independance, and literally broke her. He was after her, hated her, kept on punishing her and she lost her self-confidence. She was not the star in her class anymore, but all of a sudden, she was the bad sheep.

This literally threw her to start dating a guy who was a failure, kicked out from several schools, son of a notorious drug dealer's family here in Lebanon, despite my advices to keep away from this family.

I could not change her school as it is very difficult to find an English speaking establishment in the area where we live, and my daughters (I have 4 of them) are English educated.

She started going down to hell. She was not academically brilliant anymore, she was not happy going to school, her results started going down, and she was hanging out with the wrong people. She was losing her self-confidence.

Finally, at the end of grade 11, the school falsified her results, gave her a fail report (we later found out about this when we asked for a copy of her Grade 11 grades from the school) and I had a very hard time to find her a school that would accept a failing student for Grade 12. By this time her confidence was zero and she fell into drugs, mostly hash, sometimes Tramadol pills, and also occasionally getting drunk.

She managed to pass her Baccalaureate (end of school certificate here in Lebanon), and went on to university, in engineering.
We were paying for her university but she was not attending. At the end of the first year, her GPA was 1.25. But she promised she will do better and we gave her another chance, one more semester. But she failed big time, did not pass any credit, and since last January, she is not attending university.

She is still with that boy, but it is a lousy relationship. They are both on drugs, refuse to admit it and to get help, my daughter seems to think it is OK to smoke hash. She works a bit every now and then, giving part-time tuitions, to get some pocket money. I do give her a little money when she is broke, but not more than say 10$ a day, and it covers her petrol, her cigarettes and her outings.

We had bought her a small car at the beginning of university years because here in Lebanon we do not have any proper public transport and she needed transport.

Now she is at a point where she is totally dependent on this boy, he treats her very badly, cheats on her, and she accepts it all, saying he is not bad but he doesn't get proper advices from his mother who seems to think it is OK for a boy to cheat on a girl but not the other way round.

My daughter got pregnant from this boy last year, got an abortion which was the worst experience of her life, as it was forced on her by the boy's mother, she now feels she is worth nothing, she has no friends whatsoever, all her friends got fed-up with her, and her life is constant fighting with that boy, but stuck to him because she has nothing else.

She lost it all: studies, self-respect, she uses foul language, stays out all night, she is miserable, very thin, in poor health and won't listen to any of my advices, refuses any psychological or psychiatric help, and I am at a loss to see what I can do to help her.

My husband is away in the Gulf working to support us. Her elder sister is in Concorida studying for her Masters. My youngest daughter is brilliant and very stable and takes good care of herself. However my eldest daughter did go through rehab for drug addiction, and recently relapsed and got herself admitted again, for Tramadol addiction.

Any advices on how I should deal with my 21 year old ? Bearing in mind that in the Middle East we don't kick our daughters out of the house.

Please help.

Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello, and thanks for telling your story here. I respect your culture, and your practices in dealing with these types of problems. All I can do, however, is tell you what I know from my experience, and you can hopefully get some benefit.

The best thing you can do for your daughter is to trust her to solve her own problems, and stop supporting her in any way as long as her behavior is destructive. Otherwise, you're basically supporting destructive behavior. There are no guarantees regarding her future, no matter what you do. Her fate is basically in her hands.

I suggest you do your best to focus on what is good and strong in her. Believe in her, and let her go. I am concerned that if you continue to support her and provide her with a place to live while she continues to hurt herself with substance abuse and abusive relationships, she may go downhill. There is no way, as I said, however, to predict what will happen in her future.

If you are religious, pray for her.

And it is also important that you take care of yourself, and focus on your own well being. Please read these pages on relationships, and see if they are helpful to you:

letting go of a relationship
tough love

I hope this is helpful, and I wish the best for you and your daughter.

My very best to you,

Dr. DeFoore

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