Wife and I disagree on rules

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-08-2013
Wife and I disagree on rules
Sat, 06-08-2013 - 3:35pm

I'm 36 as is my beautiful and loving wife. We fell in love when we were 14 and we had a kid when we were both 18. We are the epitome of opposites attract. She was the pretty and popular wild child high schooler and I was the quiet book worm. I think we both kind of envied certain things about each other. I envied her ability to be social and make friends easily, and I think she envied my ability to not procrastinate. Anyway, now we have a very social 18 year old daughter and she's 99% her mom and 1% me( She has my eyes. Eyes she loves to roll at me). She loves to drink booze,sleep all day,skip chores and homework(she's graduated but still you get the idea), and talk back( it was interesting to watch when my wife  would do it to her parents, but as a parent, it's awful). 

I don't think I make life too hard for her, I ask him to do her homework and pick up after herself and we talked about a summer job which won't happen. I'm not a yeller, I wasn't brought up in a yelling household so I don't yell. Some Saturdays and Sundays it'll be like 5 in the afternoon and she won't be up. I feel he should be doing something productive so I try to wake her up but my wife will stop and tell me " Don't, she's sleeping, she needs sleep". She doesn't feel she should have a job until she's 21 like she(my wife) did. I feel she should go to college( at least CC) at some point but she doesn't because " she hates school". I give her chores and there's a 95% chance she won't do them and she'll run to Mom and she'll stick up for her and say that " She'll have plenty of time to do chores when she's older". She bought her a car when she was 16( Lexus) and hardly consulted me. Everytime I try discipline or rules, Mom shows up with " She's a teenager, she's going to make mistakes". or the ever famous " She's just having fun".

First time I caught her drinking at 14 she lied about it and said the alcohol smell was Scope mouthwash. I, trying to be the responsible one, asked my wife what the punishment should be for lying and drinking, and yes, I'm one of those " No drinking until you're 21( or at least 20) kind of parents. Her response was " well that's just what teenagers do". She got "grounded" until the next morning. School is(was) the worst, I wouldn't have had to have been on her case if she had tried, she didn't though. On her final she got a 22% on a test, she answered 8 questions of 36 and left the rest blank. I know she's bad at math so i tried to help her and asked to see the homework questions, she didn't do them ( they're optional) and her mom's response was " it must be a hard chapter and cut her some slack". She gives her allowance money for chores she didn't do. I feel under minded and like the bad guy because I try rules and I don't spoil her and let her have free reign like her mom.

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Sat, 06-08-2013 - 6:32pm

You disagree on the rules? What rules? 

Since you didn't specifically ask for suggestions I'm guessing that you just wanted a place to vent.

I will give you one bit of unsolicited BTDT advice: if your dd doesn't want to attend CC, don't force it. You'll just waste a bunch of money on tuition and books for classes that will be dropped or failed but you won't find out until the end of the term.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-08-2009
Sun, 06-09-2013 - 12:26am

Dear Deamonfan,

Welcome to our corner of the village and this is a great place to come and vent. Better to do it here than in your living room where it may only cause problems.

Hubby and I live with our two daughters, their hubbys, and the youngest couple has blessed us with two grandsons with a third baby in the oven—a girl would be nice. The couples are 20 and 21, doing well in school, part time jobs, and life in general. (And jokingly, hopefully joking, they may all end up in federal prison for white collar crimes.)

Both SILs parents and hubby and I contribute no more than the money we would if they were all single, and we have the blessing of watching the brothers four evenings a week as both couples attend evening classes together. It works for us. (The couples were 14½ and 15½ when they made secret vows to each other that are significant enough to each couple that those dates are engraved on the inside of their wedding bands and not the wedding date. They are kinky like you and your wife. LOL Also very blessed and happy like you and your wife,)

Hubby and I have been married for 22 years this month, both in our late 30s. (OK coming up on 47, but what is a little white lie, graying hair, and hot flashes.) The first 10 were rough because we were two really screwed up people; extremely happy these past 12 years. (I think it was Elizabeth Browning who pinned the words, “come grow old with me, the best is yet to be.” And that has been true for us.)

When I got married, my mother, who has been happily married to my dad for 52 years this month, gave me two pieces of advice. First, always take care of hubby’s romantic needs; you fill in the blanks, Kimmy. Second, never let the kids see any daylight between you and their father—NEVER Kimmy.

Hubby and I have NOT always agreed on everything, but we have kept true to the daylight issue. Most the time we have agreed on things, most of the big things, and there have been times where each of us has given ground.

As a practical matter, I think it is going to be very difficult to change course until your daughter wants to.

I also think what Elc11 posted about not wasting your money or the state’s money on classes at the local college that she will not study for. It would be just as good for her to go to the student union and play ping pong, etcetera, with the other students, until such time as she wants to study. I am being serious here.

At some point she is going to have to go to work or snag some guy with great earnings potential at the student union or somewhere else. We have a few of those in the family and it seems to work well for both the guys and their gal. Go figure.

I think that I would voice my concerns with your spouse and then for the sake of peace keep silent at this point. I’m guessing you have already done this and outlined what could go wrong with continuing down that path, but I can’t see arguing over it as being beneficial.

In a few years she may really surprise you. I was one stupid little winch until I began to wise up at 21 and said to myself, “Kimmy stop being such a stupid ?itch.” I doubt your daughter is on the level of stupid that I was.

I’ve told this story before here; I repeat it again because it applies here. Years ago when we moved into our home, which is near White Chapel Memorial Park, I would see balloons floating over a headstone. One day I went to look. She was seventeen, and I have no clue as to why she died so young. Maybe cancer, cystic fibrosis, drugs, suicide, a car crash, but what I do know is that she is very much loved and missed. Over the years I have kept that in my mind and on a few occasions have taken other mothers there when they were very upset. It has a way of putting things in proper perspective. No matter what our problems are they pale in comparison to this for this girls parents. We should all be grateful for the problems and for not having a place to leave balloons.

I wish the very best for you and yours.



iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sun, 06-09-2013 - 12:03pm

For the record, I agree with you totally on this--my kids had to get a job when they were 16, they both did extremely well in school.  I was probably a little lax on getting them to do chores but at least they did their own laundry--it's something.  Your wife is doing your DD no favors.  OK, so she's an 18 yr old high school graduate (barely) who had no job, no skills to do anything and no motivation.  She's legally an adult but nothing she does looks vaguely like an adult.  

I would start off by asking your wife that since your DD doesn't appear to want to attend college (which I also agree is a waste of money if she doesn't want to be there) and your wife doesn't think she should work until 21, then what is she supposed to be doing for the next 3 yrs?  Sitting around the house watching TV all day and partying all night?  Your wife said she didn't work until she was 21--well didn't she have a baby at 18?  I do suppose she spent some of those 3 yrs tending the baby, didn't she?  After a while, all your DD's friends (except maybe the drug dealers and other criminals) are going to either be in college or working at least part time and I think she'll find fewer people who are able to lounge around every day and things will be very boring for her.  I think when  your DD is in a good mood some day you might ask her where she sees herself heading in life and how she intends to get there.  Even kids who don't want to go to college have to have some kind of a plan--learning a trade, going to beauty school, doing something.  Or is her plan to get married to have a guy support her?  How many couples nowadays are there where the wife doesn't work (unless they have kids--and even then it's not that many)?  How many guys in their 20's are making a lot of money--and aren't those guys going to go for the young women who are also motivated and well educated like they are--even if she's a "housewife" like they said in the old days--well those women were expected to clean the house & cook, not just do nothing all day while the man worked.

I think the problem is that this difference of opinion has probably been going on since your daughter was able to walk & you wanted her to help put her toys away and her mom said she didn't have to--it's not like it happened now that she's 18.  So this dynamic has always been there & isn't going to change now.  I'd really recommend you & your DW going to a counselor who may be able to knock some sense into her that she actually isn't helping your DD--if not at least it might provide some solutions so you won't always be the bad guy.

Oh I'd also like to add that now that your DD is an adult if she gets caught drinking your DW won't be able to solve her criminal problems with "she's just a teenager--that's what they all do" so maybe she might want to think about whether she's ok with your DD having a criminal record.

Avatar for turtletime
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998
Mon, 06-10-2013 - 3:27pm

18, high school graduate, no college, no work and not expected to work or go to school until 21? That's just a set-up for failure. What else is she going to do but party? 

The work delay is just plain irresponsible and actually, detrimental. At 21, your daughter will be competing in a tough economy against young college graduates who have been working, interning or volunteering with reputable organizations since 16. They'll have an actual resume and professional references. I tell you, it makes all the difference. I have a nephew who was on your DD's life plan.... barely graduated high school, partied, sporatic work and no positive references to show from it... he's now 29, living at home, still drinking, still not working, still has mom making excuses, stil has a powerless dad just working to keep everyone fed. His attempts to find work have been abysmal. He has nothing to show for the last 10 years but a sea of short-term, low-skill jobs. My niece from the same family got out and is doing OK but she was always more ambitious naturally and is plugging along despite her circumstances, not because of them.

I don't really know how helpful my advice can be. Obviously, this is a track she's been on for awhile and supported fully by mom. 18-years of this sort of training is difficult to undo. However, I still reccommend sitting down with the wife and trying to nail down a timeline of expectations. Your DD needs to know upfront how long you will allow her to live at home with no work and/or school. She needs to know what you expect from her in terms of the household for time she's allowed to live there. She needs to know what kind of support you are willing/able to provide her in terms of schooling, job training, ect. She should know what you are and aren't willing to pay for in regards to activites, clothing and such. Once that is set, you guys have to follow through. If you and your wife can't agree on this together, then I'm not sure what to tell you.

Obviously, I don't know your wife. It seems like she's reluctant to hold your DD to expectations she herself didn't live up to though. My own parents had me at 17/18 and instead of using their mistakes as a free pass for me, they used them to educate me. There is no better birth control than having your mom tell you the hardships of being a teen parent... how hard they had to work to get through high school, get through college while working constantly and keeping me cared for. It can't have been easy for you guys (we were 24 when we had our first and even with college done and careers started, it was tough not being as established in a higher paying career!) Remind your wife she doesn't have to have lead a perfect life to expect her daughter to have goals and a life plan.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Tue, 06-11-2013 - 3:22pm

The best thing you can do for your child is to do something for your marriage and get counseling. You and your wife cannot begin to start parenting your adult child unless you agree on some basic goals, and you don't.

I don't understand your wife's perspective at all--I think she's completely misguided, frankly--but you are going to have to find a way to listen to and talk to her, so start with a professional therapist.

Avatar for jamblessedthree
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-23-2001
Tue, 06-25-2013 - 9:04am

Do you think your adult child has a drinking problem? You and your wife, both might find help in an al-anon program.. Insofar as rules, What rules did that kid have growing up? You can't just jump in and create new ones for an 18 year old. You can establish boundaries now, you and your wife have to be on the same page.