The Vine: February 17, 2016
I have a 21-year-old daughter, who is in her fourth year of college. The problem is she has tanked her last two semesters.
The only reason she can still go to school is she took online courses during the summer and brought up her grade point average.
A quick background, my husband and I had no kind of parental support from an early age, he had extreme physical abuse at the hands of his stepfather — but he was able to forgive him when the stepfather asked for forgiveness. My childhood was very happy until my teenage years, when my mother, who was an alcoholic, but had been sober for years, started drinking again. My dad left, and I also suffered physical abuse.
We met, had our daughter and basically tried to be the parents we never had. We were there for every single thing, no hitting, to be honest — if I could have asked for a perfect daughter in terms of temperament, she was ideal. We never heard the "I HATE YOU" — it was all just so easy.
I think she is a wonderful person, empathetic, kind, great sense of humor. But for the last two semesters she has refused to do the work to pass her classes. She tells us everything is great, and then we find out she may have passed one class. My husband and I work, and money is tight — this last semester really hit me hard — how do I trust her anymore?
I suppose what I am asking, she has 85 credit hours, and we have supported her all the way. Is it time to give up? The funny thing, I didn't want her to experience what we did, yet I expect her to work like I did, knowing I had no choice. Isn't that silly? She's not me working almost fulltime at college with no support, and I didn't want her to be, yet I expect her to be grateful like I would have been.
I feel like I need some perspective…
I'm hoping for the best
"Give up" isn't quite how I'd put it. Nor "silly," while I'm up — you and your husband have tried to give your daughter opportunities and security the two of you didn't get to enjoy at her age, because of course you have, and expecting her to respect and be worthy of the advantages you've provided is natural.
But it's not the reality; the reality is, she doesn't care enough to make the effort. That's fine — college isn't for everyone, or for everyone around 20 years old, or for everyone to finish in four consecutive years. I feel like I don't have all the information here as far as her "refusing" to do the work — is she saying, in so many words, "I refuse"? is she pretending to study and getting drunk every night? would she do better if she liked her courses more, or is it a matter of her needing to spend her own money on it in order to value the experience properly? — but it doesn't really matter. It's time to sit down with her and tell her you can no longer afford to subsidize classes she fails.
It's tempting to go into the conversation with all youuuuu-INGRATE guns blazing, but try to keep it just that: a conversation. Start by saying the three of you need to talk about her educational future. Mention that it is something of a hardship to pay her tuition, and while you don't want to make her feel guilty, it doesn't seem like it's a worthwhile investment for any of you, so she needs to take this opportunity to speak frankly: what's the problem? Does she hate her coursework/major? Is she having trouble concentrating or struggling with a learning challenge? What is her plan — both to finish school and afterwards? Does she think it's a good use of your money or her time for you to continue financing a course of action she's mostly checked out of?
Get a sense of what's really going on with her grades, and if she's really going to fail most of her courseload, it's time to stop writing checks, at least for a semester. Let her withdraw from school and figure out what she really wants to do — and how she's going to do it, with or without your financial support. Stress to her that you love her and you support her emotionally, but the current situation amounts to throwing money away, and you just can't anymore.
Fucking off has consequences. Shielding her from that is not going to help her, now or in the future.
Tags: budget 'n' finance the fam