He Said, She Said: Father concerned about ‘adult’ daughter’s behavior Print E-mail
Thursday, 29 October 2015
By Shaun and  Pamela Collins
Special to GUIDON
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My 18-year-old daughter is really worrying me. Six times in the last month I have found young Soldiers sleeping in my house. Apparently she is going out after work and bringing them home with her. It’s men, women — more than one at a time. I don’t know that there is anything sexual going on. She really shuts down when I bring the topic up. Should I be worried about this behavior?  Other than all the sleep overs, she is a wonderful young lady. We made a deal that she could stay with us through college as long as she contributed to the house and made good grades in school. My wife and I told her when she graduated high school that as long as she was responsible we would ease up on the rules.  Should I go back on that promise? I know she is a young adult; I just don’t like the idea of all these folks sleeping in my daughter’s room. How would you address this?

HE SAID: 
Our job as parents is to prepare our children to take on the adult world and for them to be able to become productive and responsible members of society. I suspect you had a lot of rules and likely consequences that were more likely the first thing that popped into your head as opposed to being a natural and related consequence that was fair and reasonable.  

By enforcing rules with natural consequences, you teach a child to anticipate adult life … if you speed, you get a ticket, your extra money goes to paying a fine, then of course, there will be the insurance rate increase. Or, if you spend all of your money partying and having fun, you cannot pay your rent, you don’t pay your rent, you get kicked out and are homeless and so on.  

It appears you wanted to keep your daughter close to home and made a promise and she has decided to test your willingness to keep your word — you didn’t say anything about her violating any of the terms you laid out, so I’d say this round goes to her. I also suspect, you are judgmental when trying to discuss the “sleep overs” with her, which is likely why she shuts down, but it could also be based on established patterns of rules and your responses to her requests for more freedom as she matured, but you probably resisted because you weren’t ready to see her as an adult.  

I suggest you adjust your vision of your little baby girl and start seeing her as an adult and treat her like you would a tenant, not so much a daughter.  This will help you grow past your viewing her as a child. I’m not saying that she is in the right, simply that I suspect that your parenting before she was an adult may have contributed to her behavior now.  Let me ask, if you go back on your word and crack down on her, let’s say she moves out … let’s say she continues to invite people over and something bad happens to her — would you rather that you were there to protect her or that you are there to say “I told you so?” If you treat her more like an adult, she will start to act more like one.  That means respecting each other at a basic human level and allowing her to own the consequences of her  actions, as they would unfold were she living on a university campus.  Parenting is not for the faint of heart — make  sure you do what is best for her to grow, not for you to feel better.

SHE SAID:  “Easing up on the rules” is not “you can treat our home like a flophouse.”  When our daughter turned 18, we told her she simply needed to let us know where she was going and when she would be home for safety purposes.  I had a difficult time with this as, even at 20, I still see her as “my little girl,” but my husband kept reminding me that she’s an adult, capable of adult decisions and responsible for her own behavior and consequences.  

With this, asking if she could go somewhere or do something was no longer required. We did, however, still have rules about what could go on under our roof.  Simply being an adult doesn’t give her license to bring strangers into your home whenever she feels like it.  She still has to be respectful and considerate of your home.  This is an important lesson; more so now that she is an adult and staying under your roof by your own good graces.  You feed her, clothe her, and take care of her needs; in exchange for those creature comforts, she needs to be respectful and considerate.   

(Editor’s note: Shaun and Pamela Collins were both career Soldiers with a combined history of military service spanning over a half of a century. They have been where you are, so if you are facing a difficult situation, ask them. Send your question to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This column and other original content from Mr. and Mrs. Collins can be found at http://militarysuccessnetwork.com. The opinions expressed are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office or the GUIDON.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 11 November 2015 )