Ask Micah 12-22-10

Where Ultimatums Get You

Dear Micah,

My daughter is 17, almost 18, and she is seeing a man I don’t approve of. He is almost thirty and divorced with a little girl he’s not allowed to see. I obviously do not want this man in my daughter’s life, but she isn’t listening to me. I told her that her boyfriend isn’t welcome in my home so she moved out and in with him. Things are now so bad that we aren’t even speaking and I don’t know what to do next. My husband is not in the picture and she is the only child that I have. How can I get this man out of her life and get my little girl back?
Frantic Mom

Dear Mom,
First let’s clarify a few things. She is not your little girl anymore. She is a young woman–albeit a seemingly stupid one. There is no psychology degree hanging on my wall, but I feel safe in stating that it is most likely your tendency to be a little overbearing and bossy that has helped to push her right out the door and into this loser’s arms. Your daughter’s father is nonexistent so it isn’t too hard to figure out that she also has Daddy issues and an inability to recognize the difference between a stable relationship and one fraught with red flags. Your daughter is behaving stubbornly and she is refusing to see what’s right in front of her and refusing to listen to real facts about how risky her relationship is…and there is nothing you can do about it. Obviously she doesn’t have much respect for your opinions. Perhaps you have made terrible choices in your own life too and lost all credibility or maybe you just nag so much that she tunes out everything that you say now, even when you are right. It really doesn’t matter because she is going to do exactly what she wants to do. My only advice to you is to stop making ultimatums that force your daughter out of your life when that’s the last thing you want to happen. You told her “It’s him or me,” and she chose him. That’s a really dumb thing to do when you are trying to save a stubborn child from disaster. Even if she had been beginning to lose faith in him, your declaration just pushed her into his arms again. You need to understand your audience. No 18 year old is going to stand for being treated like a child, and that’s exactly what you did to her. You gave her no participation in the discussion. You made her feel like a child and so she dug her heels into the ground and wouldn’t budge from her position that this relationship was right. There was a way to voice your concerns over this guy without making her feel as if you had no faith in her decisions. You have to remember she is a young woman now. You can’t parent her in the same ways that you did when she was 14. Telling her she’s wrong and making her feel like you don’t see her as an adult only challenged her to a fight with you and resulted in your alienating her. So now she is living with this man you despise and she has no contact with you. Why is she doing this? Because to admit that you were right about him now would be like admitting that she really is still just a child. She’s desperate to be validated as an adult and since you couldn’t do that, he did. You’ll forgive me for asking this but what side are you on again? You couldn’t have pushed her towards him more if you rented a chapel and hired a minister. Your job is to stand by your daughter, not keep trying to tell her how to live. Is this relationship a mistake? Probably. Can you make her stop seeing him? Obviously not. So your priority is to stand beside her and be there when her life falls apart and she needs someone to support her emotionally. Right now all she has is a man who has such a severe backstory that he isn’t even allowed to see his own child. That would make me so afraid that I’d be doing everything I could to stay in my daughter’s life so that if he ever did anything that might hurt her, I’d be the one she’d turn to when she needed help. Your actions so far have done the exact opposite of that. You were more focused on winning the fight and having her admit that you were right. That wasn’t the right tactic for this type of situation. So pull out your phone, call your daughter, tell her that you are sorry for the way you’ve acted. Tell her that you trust her ability to make her own choices and tell her that you want her in your life. Make nice with this creep she’s living with and become a part of their relationship. Keep your opinions to yourself and let her figure out that her relationship is a travesty and then be there to guide her when she needs direction after it ends. I know it may sound like you are admitting defeat and giving in to her stupid choices, but at this point it’s all you can do. If you are still hung up on winning, then you are going to lose your daughter for good.

Chasing Names

Dear Micah,

My husband’s name is William, his father’s name was William, and his grandfather’s name was William, and so on and so on. I bet you’re getting the drift here. I’m having a son and I want to name him Chase. I’ve always wanted to name my son Chase if I ever had one. So tell me who wins this fight?

Dear Amy,
Your husband wins this fight if you want my opinion. Family traditions are important and I am a strong believer in keeping them up if possible. I had another baby-naming question earlier this year and I sided with the wife because she has to do all of the work, but in your case I can’t side with you. I think it’s nice that William is every first born son’s name stretching back generations in your husband’s family. It’s not as if the name they are proposing is Harold or Melvin. William is a nice strong name. It can also be altered into an array of nicknames like, Will, Liam, Bill, Billy, Speaking as a person who has spent years researching my own family genealogy, I feel strongly that family and lineage is something to be proud of, therefore I have to side with your husband. You can name your second child Chase if you chose to have another, although may I say that I think the world has enough Chase’s in it. Chase is like what David was when I was a kid. On that same note can we finally retire Caitlyn, Cody, and Kaylee–frankly we’ve had our fill.

Secret Sibling

Dear Micah,
I just found out that my late father was married to another woman before my mother and I have a brother I’ve never met. I am shocked. I want to look this guy up and meet him but my sister tells me to leave it all alone after so many years. I think I’m still going to contact him. What do you think?
Long Lost Sister

Dear Sis,
Curiosity would make me look him up too. Your sister is probably right and it is probably best to leave it all alone, but I’d still do it anyway because I wouldn’t be able to stop myself. My only advice to you is to tread carefully when it comes to your father. You may have some grand memories of your Dad, but obviously he was not present in your half brother’s life–so his opinion of your father isn’t likely to be terribly high. Check with your mother, if she’s still living, and get as much of the back story as you can before you approach this virtual stranger, but I would pursue this. You may build a nice relationship with a brand new sibling and discover a whole new branch of family that you never knew you had before.

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Micah Cargo has been handing out common-sense advice to the senseless for most of his life. Being brought up by a single mom and three wise old southern grandparents equipped Micah with the tools needed to get through life with a little humor, a little intelligence, and not a small amount of bitterness.

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