Dear Dr. Smith,

I have read your column for years and enjoy them. I appreciate the advice you give to people. That's why I am writing to you. I'm having a mess in my family and need someone to help me.

My daughter has the boyfriend from hell. She has always been a good girl and a great daughter. She graduated from high school with honors and got a job instead of going to college. She said that she was tired of studying and wanted to earn some money. She doesn't have a very good job and can't support herself yet so she is still living at home.

She met this boy at work. He is from a neighboring town and graduated two years before my daughter. He is in the same kind of menial job and seems to have no desire to better himself. He has piercings and tattoos, dresses like a homeless person, can't hold a decent conversation, drives like a maniac, and shows my daughter no respect.

They spend all their free time together, but he won't come to our house. He thinks we don't like him. Guess he's a mind reader. She runs out the door when he blows the horn and we know that they spend their time in his car – which can only lead to trouble. My daughter has never met his parents because he tells her that they are "lame."

My husband tried to put his foot down one day. He told our daughter that she wasn't allowed to date the boy unless she brought him home regularly. She told her Dad that she would run away and get married. I know that they have talked about getting married, so I am scared that she means what she says.

What can I do? I am afraid that I will lose my daughter. She is our only child. Can you help me?

Thanks for reading this.

A Mother

Who is ScaredDear Mom,

Boy, do you have a stressful situation! I can understand why you are scared. Your daughter's relationship with this boy is jeopardizing your family.

My first reaction was to tell you to invite the boy and his parents to your home for dinner. That may sound overly simple, but I believe it could help. First of all, it would give you and your husband a chance to get to know the boy's family. Second, it would give your daughter the feeling that you are trying to accept her boyfriend. And lastly, it would force some decent conversation over the dinner table. Who knows? You may find out that this boy and his parents aren't all that bad.

I suppose there's a chance that they would refuse your kind dinner invitation. In that case, a phone call to the boy's mother might help. Sometimes two mothers who care about their children can work wonders in a stressful situation. You can suggest that the two of you have lunch together. That would give you some insight into her personality and lifestyle.

Being negative towards your daughter's boyfriend might just serve to drive her farther into his arms and away from you. Try hard to say something positive about him. Once she sees that you are more accepting, she might begin to notice his faults all on her own. If this is her first experience with "love," she might just be caught up in a crush. And, trust me on this, crushes can disappear as fast as they developed.

One final word – you're worried about losing your daughter. That won't happen if the two of you keep the lines of communication open. Spend quality time together. Talk things over. Show her by your words and actions that you love and care for her.

And, if all else fails, remember that not all the evils come to hurt. Who knows? The boyfriend might just be another budding Bill Gates or Justin Beiber.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH1313@CFL.RR.COM OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.