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It Worked: The Dating Game - Helping Our Daughter With AD/HD Play it Safe

A manipulative boyfriend compels parents to intervene and get help for their daughter with AD/HD.

By GreatSchools Staff

Name: Katherine
State: Kansas
Child's Age: 18
Child's School Level: High school
Area(s) child struggles: Attention, Emotions, Reading, Self-esteem, Social Skills

Describe how another person - a family member, teacher, or classmate - negatively affected your child's learning and/or well-being.

My 18-year-old daughter with AD/HD and LD became involved with an emotionally abusive young man this year. Like many individuals with AD/HD, she is socially less mature than her peers. This young man manipulated her time, controlled who she saw and when, and was always angry with her for something. He threatened to hurt himself if he could not see her. He interfered with her study time at school, and he thoroughly convinced her that he needed her, that all the things he did were born of love.

Describe how you responded to the situation, including the actions you took or strategies you used to support or defend your child in the situation.

Initially we saw some red flags in terms of manipulation and talked of our concerns at meetings with her therapist and with our daughter. As things worsened we spoke to her advisor at school and the school nurse who saw her once a day for meds. When we realized the relationship was not going to end on its own, we encouraged our daughter to look closely at this young man, and we provided her with information on the warning signs of abuse. We limited the amount of time she could spend with him as much as possible and frankly discussed our dislike for his behaviors, telling her we thought she was in danger. We sought advice from her therapist and again from the school advisor and nurse. We made it clear to her that we would be supportive of the break-up.

Nothing really worked until a teacher reported what she perceived as emotional abuse (or bullying) by the young man to my daughter at school. It was the obligation of the advisor to report the incident to us, and we used this as a catalyst for illustrating to our daughter what was happening. We had her call a local counseling center and shelter for domestic emotional/violent abuse. The intake counselor was able to identify what she thought was a problem and convinced our daughter to set up an appointment and seek counseling.

Our daughter broke up with the young man, and his obsession continued to the point of him sending threatening letters. We went back to the school, provided them copies of the letters, and made appropriate arrangements to have teachers keep their eye on the situation. Currently my daughter is seeing her own therapist and counselor at the domestic abuse shelter. Our focus is on her self-esteem and worthiness. She will attend college next year at a state university and has been accepted into their engineering program. Her goal is to become a mechanical engineer.

How did your child handle the situation?

Our daughter is a bright and attractive young woman who wants to please everyone. She has overcome many obstacles with her LD and AD/HD and wrote a paper this year on the need for both medication and behavioral modification in the treatment of AD/HD. Yet, as self aware as she is, she did not respond to the obvious control and manipulation of the young man she was dating. She is non-confrontational and would break up with him only to take him back when he would plead and beg. It took several incidents and interventions before she was convinced she was in an unhealthy relationship.

Comments from readers

"thank you for this information I have a daughter who has AD/HD as well. She's not old enough to date yet however, I can see your daughters story becoming my daughter story. I like to teacher how now how she should be treated by young men. "