Dear Dr. Archer,
Thank you so much for what you do. My daughter is bipolar with OCD and describes herself as having borderline personality. I’m not sure if she was tested for this or not. Her daughter has behavioral problems and is being treated for ADHD.
My daughter is inconsistent with her mothering. I and other family members have noticed over the years that she spaces out and my granddaughter has pretty much gotten used to making up her own rules. She gets her own snacks, eats when she wants and has no schedule or routine, except for public school.
I live with them now that I’m divorced. I try to establish routine and discipline for my granddaughter, which her behavioral therapist said is needed. I get her up every morning, give her breakfast, see that she takes her medication and watch her at the bus stop. My daughter has never done this. My daughter destroys routine by sleeping all day, being on the computer, not providing regular meals and no set time for homework.
My daughter recently complained to the therapist that I interfere. She said I was the problem, when my granddaughter’s problems have been ongoing since she was a toddler. In fact, my youngest daughter and her husband wanted to adopt her when she was young.
Before I lived with them, my daughter used to call me to help her get control over her daughter because she could not, and yet even now, if discipline is required, I have to be the one to provide it.
My granddaughter is very confused, wondering why she can run amuck sometimes and not others. I don’t know what to do anymore. Her therapist says we need to be on the same page, but my daughter cannot seem to stay focused. She’s always on trips to hook up with men she’s met on the Internet; asleep; or she’s on the computer.
The therapist mentioned guardianship when I told her what was really going on, but my granddaughter has a father who would take her in order to not pay child support. He’s no good as a parent either. Where in the world do I start to remedy this situation?
You have moved in with your daughter and granddaughter, not vice versa. Your daughter has you to assume parental duties whenever she pleases, whether it’s to leave town, spend her nights surfing the Internet or sleeping all day. Your granddaughter’s father pays child support without the responsibility of being a father. As I see it, there’s little incentive for anyone to change. They have you to do all the work while they get a free ride.
If you would like to gain guardianship of your granddaughter, it would require not only money for an attorney, but also money to take care of her. If the parents would give up their parental rights, you would need enough money to do this, which I suspect might be a problem.
Whether both parents would allow your other daughter to adopt the child is a different matter. They may be willing, but both parents would need to agree and sign off on it and I sense this is unlikely.
So, what to do? Be the best influence on your granddaughter’s life that you can be. Create a positive home environment and a daily, predictable routine. Then, without accusation, and keeping your granddaughter’s best interest at heart, suggest family therapy. This gives everyone a chance to let his or her feelings be known.
In a safe, structured environment with a professional for guidance, positive changes can absolutely be made if everyone works together. If the three of you can learn to respect each other while also learning to work as a family unit, the results could be startling. Make that your goal, even though you will probably have to pay for the therapy.
Finally, an ultimatum could also work, but you’d have to be 100 percent willing to leave if your daughter doesn’t go along with it. This would mean losing your granddaughter and I’m not sure you are willing to take that risk. Try your best for the family therapy approach first. All the best.
Dear Dr. Archer,
I had been living with my boyfriend — now ex-boyfriend — for over three years. I had a house of my own which I rented to his former tenant when I became pregnant. I moved in with him because we were planning on marrying, plus we needed the room for our baby.
Things have gotten so bad! His mom lives a long distance away, but viewed me on webcams my boyfriend had set up. He and his mother decided I was lazy and needed to move out, as well as pay him rent for any time I remain in his house.
I want to get out, but I have to wait until my tenants move out. He claims he can put me on the street any time he wants. I’m not leaving my daughter behind, and I don’t have the money to pay him the outrageous rent he wants to charge me.
I work and buy all my daughter’s things and all the groceries and some of the household bills. I don’t want my daughter moved around, and want to make the transition as painless as possible. He doesn’t care about that. He just wants me out.
Do I have any legal rights as far as time to get out? He originally gave me two weeks, and I told him I needed longer. I told him my tenants had to find a home, but he says that’s my problem. I cry every time I think about how this will affect my daughter. She turns three this week. Happy birthday — daddy’s kicking mommy out!
You need legal advice, but I’m not an attorney. Each state has its own rules and regulations regarding evicting an individual from a residence, so you’ll need to find out what the law stipulates for your particular state.
Your first step is to talk to an attorney and file for child support. Next, find a family member or a friend to live with until the tenant is out of your house. Finally, stop feeling sorry for yourself. Clearly, this is not a guy you need to waste any more time on.
I understand you don’t want this to be traumatic, but children are very resilient — more so than we give them credit for. The key is to make her feel loved and safe. The environment she is in now is not nurturing, so you’re better off moving into a more peaceful setting.
Your precious daughter’s wellbeing will not be determined by this turn of events if you play your cards right and take charge of your life, as well as your daughter’s life. Take care.
Dr. Dale Archer is a board certified psychiatrist who founded the Institute for Neuropsychiatry in Southwest Louisiana. He is a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN Headline News, and other national TV programs, and is the author of The ADHD Advantage and the New York Times’ bestselling book Better than Normal. Visit him at DrDaleArcher.com.