Author Topic: Heading toward estrangement?  (Read 6318 times)

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Offline Bamboo2

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Heading toward estrangement?
« on: September 21, 2015, 06:34:28 PM »
First of all, warm greetings to Luise, who I feel I know already, from her wise and gentle posts.  I have read many forums but none as respectful and compassionate as this one.  Thank you for birthing this wonderful forum.  And thank you to the many posters who have given such helpful advice.  I have already read the Read Me First Articles and lots of posts, so here goes with my problem.

My 20 year old daughter moved out during the start of her senior year of HS to live with her controlling BF and his mom. DH and I have struggled to maintain a relationship with DD ever since.  Now DD has an apartment and moved him in, and she is taking a year off from college before she can retake a class.  She is a very hard worker, but struggles to stay ahead financially since the BF can't keep jobs or manage money.  In addition, DD's BF threatened my DH while drunk last year, causing DH to not have any more contact with the boyfriend.

We found out recently that DD let her boyfriend drive her car (he has no license), so we made her get her own car insurance policy, which is expensive.  Also, she recently asked if we would cosign on a credit card for her and I said no.  These two recent issues have led to her treating us contemptuously, icy tone of voice or one word texts, or no response whatever.  My DH sent her a letter by mail indicating that we don't owe her anything and she should be grateful for all we have done for her in the past year, which he itemized in the letter (college costs, car repairs, new tires, furnishings for dorm room, totaling over $12,000). DH wrote that she was acting like a spoiled child.  I added that we love her and want a relationship with her when she can treat us with respect. We deserve better than this.

She sent back our letter with a note at the bottom indicating she wasn't mad about the two money issues (not cosigning and making her get a separate insurance policy), but she is now mad about the letter we sent, especially DH's statement that she lacks appreciation.

What to do, Wise Women?  Let it be?  Let her contact us when she is ready?  What if this letter is the catalyst for an estrangement?  How could I live with that?  On the other hand, I know we have been extremely generous to her and forgiving of her many hurtful behaviors over the past two years.  She can be warm and loving, but also manipulative in order to get her way with us.  Those manipulative days are over for me.

True confession: the last few weeks have been more peaceful for me, since I know for sure that she won't be coming to visit when she is in town every other weekend, rather than the unknowing and trying to plan special things to compete with and/or coordinate with the many events of his large extended family.

Thank you so much for any advice you can give me, Wise Women!

Offline Pooh

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Re: Heading toward estrangement?
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2015, 11:04:06 AM »
Welcome Bamboo and thanks for reading the posts first.

Forgive me but this kind of reminded me of when my Son was little and I would catch him doing something he shouldn't be doing.  When I would get on to him, he would pout and I would say, "Are you mad because I got on to you?"  He would answer, "Nooooo...I'm mad because you didn't let me go outside earlier!"  I would get tickled because it was like he was trying to take partial responsibility for what he had done but still make it about me instead of him.

She may not be happy about the letter, but at least she now knows that you and DH will not tolerate being disrespected.  Frankly, when I was that age, if my BF had threatened my Dad while being drunk, that would have been the end of my relationship with BF.  I would never allow anyone to disrespect my parents like that.  I think that is something I will never understand nowadays about people. 

I personally would let her be and see if she comes back around.  But that is something only you can decide based off how personally you know her.  I actually have enjoyed the peace of the non-drama in recent years as well.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Offline Bamboo2

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Re: Heading toward estrangement?
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2015, 01:17:27 PM »
Thanks for your reply, Pooh.  Yes, this daughter knows how to turn the tables to put the blame on someone else instead of taking responsibility for her part.  And she wasn't around when the threat was made, and of course the BF lied about it and later had to ask people whether what he said was in fact a threat.  So many layers to this drama...

The only reason I would like to keep the lines of communication open is because she calls me when things are bad with him, like last month one night when he was drunk and busting her things, and she called the cops (not the first time he has done that; he is a mean drunk). But I think she always knows we will help her if/when things go south with him.

Offline Pooh

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Re: Heading toward estrangement?
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2015, 08:52:50 AM »
I get that, but she is an adult that has made her choices.  Which means she must also deal with the fall-out when things go badly with BF.   She may not have been present when the threat was made, but if she has had to call the cops on him herself and seen the behavior...well that's a no=brainer that she should have known it was the truth. 

One of the hardest things to do with AC is to let them fail when they create situations.  If she is still with him after she had to call the cops herself, then that is no longer a mistake on her part, that is a choice she is making and she must learn on her own to deal with the consequences of bad choices. 
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Offline luise.volta

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Re: Heading toward estrangement?
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2015, 10:26:18 AM »
Welcome, B. Thanks for your kind words about WWU. I agree with Pooh. Maturity is not something easily gained. I think when we create a soft place for our adult children to fall it interrupts the process of the consequences of poor judgment. Tough love is the toughest on the person giving it! Your daughter has made a choice in a partner that is unsupportive and complicates her life. She's had four years to figure that out. She knows. The letter was a place to hide behind blame. Very handy. As parents, we all have to do what we are willing to live with and our solutions are varied. My take is that we can never expect respect when we take disrespect in our stride. Your DD is in a relationship of her own choosing with a person that doesn't respect her...she passes it on to you. Truth...it's not yours. Setting boundaries is very hard and you have done a great job with the insurance and cosigning a credit card. I say, keep up the good work and let her know that you love her dearly and always will but/and you do no support her choice and are not going to help her with the fall out. Sending hugs...
"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes it's a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I'll try again tomorrow." -- Mary Ann Radmacher

Offline Bamboo2

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Re: Heading toward estrangement?
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2015, 11:03:17 AM »
Pooh, thanks for stating the obvious that eluded my husband and me...yes, DD should have known the BFs threat against my DH was real when she has been living with his bad behavior for over two years now.

Luise, I appreciate your insight about passing the disrespect on from him to her to us.  It is like kicking the dog when your boss yells at you. 

If I may ask a follow up question, it regards my concern that BF is emotionally (and financially) abusing her.  At the present time, she has no one else to talk to about this..she has made his family and his friends her entire world.  As hard as it has been, I felt that I should be the one who keeps a relationship with her AND him, so she is free to be honest with me about his abusive behaviors, instead of lying so we would think well of him, which is impossible at this point.  So my question to you is: should I tell her that I am open to seeing him still?  I can hardly fathom it after she called the cops on him. I think she would be open to seeing me again if I opened myself up to including him. 

The other piece that I should point out is she was abandoned in childhood and took care of many young and disabled children before she joined our family.  She is now taking care of her BF in a similar  way.  We have tried to encourage her to see a therapist to work on these issues from her past but she is not interested at this time.  My heart goes out to her because I know the events of her childhood, over which she had no control, are influencing her decision to stay with this guy.

Offline luise.volta

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Re: Heading toward estrangement?
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2015, 11:45:57 AM »
My take is you are enabling and calling it love. I could be way out in left field, always remember to take what you want here and leave the rest. Life is not easy for anyone. I'm a senior-senior...I am 88 years old. I have learned that those who tell of perfect childhoods are those in the worst trouble. Childhood is hard. Denial can be deadly. She has a past to learn from and leave behind, like most of us. It isn't your past or your need to learn and mature, it's hers. We able to help when they were young and we often think we still can and should. However, adulthood is earned...it can't be a gift. I would remind her that she has endless proof of your love and it will never change. However, you don't love what she is doing with her life or who she is doing it with and choose to step back and live your own life to the fullest. When you put up with the abuse she directs toward you...you are affirming her doing the same thing in her relationships. There is no self respect in it and you are providing a very poor role model for her to follow. I'd let her know that if and when she wants more in life and is willing to face the pain of growing up, you are there for her. Until then, you are not going to participate in any way with her choices and their consequences. Hugs...
"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes it's a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I'll try again tomorrow." -- Mary Ann Radmacher

Offline Pooh

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Re: Heading toward estrangement?
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2015, 12:06:02 PM »
I can't say it any better than Luise just did.  And don't think we are picking on you.  It is very hard to separate being supportive of our AC and enabling them to continue the behavior.  We all want to be there for our AC, so we really do understand.

No one can tell you what to do, all I can do is answer your question for myself.  There is no way that I would allow someone like him in my home, or be in the same vicinity as me after threatening my husband.  If that meant I didn't get to see my own child because of that decision, then so be it.  Her choices in life do not make them your choices.  She has a right to decide for her herself what she will tolerate and so do you.  I've seen too many families, in my line of work, allow someone like that in their home to keep harmony with someone else, find themselves in the middle of a fight because of that person's behavior.  And I know myself enough to admit, if I had a daughter/son that was living with a volatile person, and was telling me all the details, there is no way I could show them any respect in person.  You don't continuously hurt someone I love and get a free pass. The best I can do is to stay out of it and not be drug into it.  Again, this is just me answering that question. 

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Offline Bamboo2

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Re: Heading toward estrangement?
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2015, 04:21:29 PM »
Thank you both for your compassionate and/but "tough love" replies.  This is what I was looking for when posting this question.  I have decided that "loving detachment" will be the plan for now.  It will seriously make life easier for my husband and me in the near term.  The holidays could bring on more drama, but you have given me some useful phrases to use, should she be in touch.  I am feeling good  about not having to see the BF again, because that would be a farce to try to show respect after all he has done.  And why should I be put through that because of HER choice?  Hugs to you, Luise and Pooh!

Offline luise.volta

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Re: Heading toward estrangement?
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2015, 04:55:00 PM »
Good for you! :D
"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes it's a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I'll try again tomorrow." -- Mary Ann Radmacher

Offline Pen

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Re: Heading toward estrangement?
« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2015, 09:23:36 PM »
Welcome, B2. Loving detachment, with your boundaries in place, sounds like a good plan. You are not shutting your DD out forever, but she knows how she has to treat you if she wants to have a relationship. Now it's up to her.

Our AC know they can pull our chains because we love them so much we'll put up with anything! Until we won't...
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Offline Bamboo2

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Re: Heading toward estrangement?
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2015, 09:38:28 PM »
Hi Pen, thanks for your support.  I have gained so much wisdom from this site; I feel that it will be a source of comfort and inspiration to me as time goes on. So many others have walked a similar journey and have come out the other side, no matter how their relationships turn out with their adult children. That gives me confidence to stay the course.  :)

Offline Bamboo2

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Re: Heading toward estrangement?
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2015, 07:20:38 AM »
Back again...DD called me a few nights ago, and I brought up her "cold shoulder" treatment of us.  First she denied it, then she blamed it on work stress. Finally, when pressed, she indicated being mad about the cosign and then later about the letter we sent.  I said we did not regret sending the letter and will not accept her cold treatment of us anymore.  She said, "My mistake for calling then." And that was that.  I knew it would upset her.  Part of me felt that I knowingly pushed her into getting upset just so I could justify maintaining my peaceful distance from her, and then I read a WWU thread that really helped me put it into perspective, titled, "Has Anyone Else Deliberately Made Their Children Mad?" It was like it had been written for me! I realized what I said was done out of self-preservation.  It was an "ah-ha" moment for me.  I've taken her perspective over my own so often I've forgotten what my perspective even is, or I've relegated it to second-class status. I can't tell you how much that post, and so many others that I have copied into my journal, have given me power and insight.

Now I have some questions.  What is my next step here? Wait for some apology and acknowledgement of the "cold shoulder" treatment?  What if there is nothing forthcoming before the holidays? Continue to extend the invitations anyway? 

Offline Pooh

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Re: Heading toward estrangement?
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2015, 08:16:54 AM »
Your next step is to determine what your goal is?   If it's loving detachment, then you can continue to extend invitations while setting your boundaries of acceptable behavior.  But the only way to do that is to not have expectations.  That's on you.  If you can extend invitations without "expecting" things to change, then you can do it.  But if you extend the invitations and expect a response or her to suddenly change, then you will be setting yourself up for being drug back into the drama.  And if your relationship is going to be based on you receiving an apology, then you have to leave it with her to see if it ever happens, but without setting yourself up to expect it to happen.

Now, that being said.  That was my original goal with my Son, but when the invitations went out with no response from him, I eventually stopped sending invitations and basically it became a complete cut-off between us.  I didn't expect him to respond, but at the same time, after a year of no response it finally dawned on me to ask myself, "Why are you even extending the invitations then?"  So for the last two years, it's all been in his court if he ever wants to make contact again.  My goal changed after awhile to leave it in his hands, while figuring out that live goes on without him.

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Offline Monroe

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Re: Heading toward estrangement?
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2015, 12:11:38 PM »
Bamboo - -

Good for you, bringing up the cold shoulder treatment from your daughter.   In my opinion, you were simply holding her accountable for bad behavior.   I think to sweep it under the rug, take her call and pretend like nothing happened, everything was fine - - just creates that elephant in the room.   By holding her accountable, and setting your boundary of what is acceptable behavior - you are sending her a positive message - tough love, maybe - but you are no longer enabling and calling it love. 

I doubt you will get an apology, and you don't really need one.   She acknowledged her bad behavior was a result of anger about the letter and not co-signing.   You sent the clear message that you will not accept that kind of treatment.   You have set your boundary.  Don't hold your breath waiting for an apology.   

What you do next is your choice.   You can extend the invitations, and see if she responds and behaves appropriately.  If so, this is all history.   But you don't tolerate such behavior in the future.   If she does behave inappropriately, you reinforce your boundary.   At some point, like Pooh, you may quit calling.   But if she respects your boundary and acts appropriately in the future, I see nothing wrong with extending some invitations.   

Best wishes.