Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Parents Should Answer Girl's Threat With Some Tough Love

DEAR ABBY: I feel like my heart has been ripped out and stomped on. My 18-year-old daughter, "Emily," hooked up with a 27-year-old ex-convict ("Jerry") and had his baby three months ago. Although we disapproved of the relationship, we let him move into our home. A month later, I caught him with another girl and my daughter ended their relationship.

Last week, Emily announced that Jerry wants her back and has admitted all his wrongs. Abby, she wants us to let him move back in! My husband refuses to support them any longer. Emily has now chosen Jerry and says she is taking the baby, even though she has no place to go because he's still living with the other girl. Neither of them can afford an apartment.

I feel if I don't go along with it I am throwing my innocent grandchild out into the street, and it breaks my heart. Is tough love the right answer? -- CRYING IN VIRGINIA

DEAR CRYING: Yes, so call her bluff. Tough love would be better than allowing your daughter to blackmail you, which is what she's attempting to do. It's unlikely that Emily will wind up on the street.

I seriously doubt that Jerry will give up a sure thing and a roof over his head to build a life with your daughter. When she wakes up to that fact, I predict she'll be back on your doorstep -- so be prepared.