I'm feeling scared and heart-broken. I'm afraid my husband and I may end up with no meaningful relationship with our daughter. I have two daughters. My oldest daughter, 26, makes very little effort to communicate with any of her family members, including me and my husband. She has one close friend in town and they still stay in touch but not as much they used to. We still see her friend. She will always return our calls and texts but never initiates contact.
She has a problem with my husband in particular. They don't understand each other but are actually quite alike. They have different political views (she's NDP and he's Liberal) and different views about everything else. If he says black, she says white. She can be a very prickly girl and is offended easily, at least by us. Furthermore, he is not trained in communication and doesn't validate her feelings. Instead, he gives her advice that she doesn't want. He always seems to say the wrong thing and she gets her back up. When they have differing opinions, she shuts him down. They don't yell, call each other names or act in an abusive manner. It's like she puts a wall up. He doesn't know what to say to her. It's obvious that she feels disdain for him. She even rolls her eyes. He's really hurt and at this point, won't admit it and just says he feels frustrated with her. He doesn't approve of her decisions and I think she can tell. It's adding fuel to the fire. She's distant to me too but not as dismissive. I'm very careful about what I say to her. I feel like I'm walking on egg shells. She also has a disorder called misophonia and she hates the sound of us breathing or eating.Sometimes, she actually has to leave the room we're in because of it.
She came home for Christmas last year with her boyfriend and it was terrible. She had the flu and was quite sick but at the same time, was rude to us, didn't clean up after herself at all and gave presents to nobody, not even a card. We're not big on presents but we do give cards and show our appreciation. Basically, she acted like she was 14 years old. We didn't say anything and the visit went by without hurtful words. We were glad when they left.
Last summer she moved in with her boyfriend to a new city and sees his family often. She has the same political views and belief systems as them. His family is quite wealthy and they give DD and her boyfriend money, pay for their groceries and just buy them a lot of stuff. My daughter has a Masters Degree and a well-paying job. She doesn't need them to pay for everything but she lets them. My husband and I are very secure financially but not as wealthy as BF's family. We're generous with money but have always encouraged our daughters to be financially independent. We quite like her boyfriend and do not blame him for any of this. We are always kind and welcoming towards him and ask after him and hope he's well. We know she makes her own decisions.
We were once a very close family and now I feel like each time we speak to her, there's more distance than the time before. She hates the city she was raised in and doesn't want to go out in public when she comes home for fear she'll see someone from high school. She seems to dislike everything we did as a family, especially camping and hiking.
Because of COVID, we won't be seeing her this summer but I strongly sense that she's relieved and doesn't want to see us anyways. I feel like this a very complex problem and I don't know what to do.
I haven't talked to her about this situation yet but I'd like to. I feel like we're on the cusp of her not wanting to have anything to do with us. I feel like she might cut us off completely and that's what I'm scared of. It would break my heart. I haven't spoken to my other daughter about this because I don't want to talk about my older daughter behind her back. However, I feel like my younger daughter might be able to shed some light on what's happening. I just don't know what to do. I've decided to contact a counselor. I really need somebody to talk to.
I'm just really hurting and afraid.
Oh MC......I feel for you! It hurts so bad when they pull away and every bone in my body shouted that I needed to do something to fix it. I called and texted all the time. I knew if I could just talk to my son the right way he would stop pulling away. Fortunately my DH did not buy into my thoughts that it was my or my DH's fault. I just about lost my marriage over running after my DS trying to make things "right". At this point I really don't remember what it was that made me realize that the problem was me, and not him. I expected him to react differently than he did. I expected him to want me to be involved in his life. He didn't. I couldn't change the fact that he was evidently happier when he did not hear from me than he was when he did hear from me. It broke my heart. I fell into what I now call "the abyss". I thought about the problem all the time. I talked about it all the time. I made everyone around me miserable because all I could talk about was how miserable I was. It was a mess. Sometime during this horrible descent I discovered my three mantras:
1). What you focus on expands
2). No news is good news
3). Not my circus, not my monkeys
Let me explain. The first step was to focus my thoughts and my hopes on things that made ME happy. Yep, you got it! I suddenly realized that I could not make other people happy if I did not manage to make myself happy first. I started planning things for me. Really! My DH and I skipped cooking Thanksgiving dinner one year and instead we went canoeing because the weather was wonderful that Thursday. We cooked the turkey on Friday while it was raining. Had to call the kids and tell them what was going on. Their reaction was fine, mainly puzzled but fine. Holidays were especially difficult for me because the absence of my DS was so obvious and impossible for me to ignore. My way around that was to start planning other things to do for the holiday. So for Mother's day I would plan a camping trip. It made a huge difference in my attitude.
Next I started saying "No news is good news" to myself every time I thought about the fact that my DS had not contacted me. I would say it to my friends and relatives whenever they asked about my DS/DIL. I still pull it out when I am asked about them and I don't know what is happening in their life. Over time people have learned not to ask.
And finally the last one reminds me to keep my advice and opinions to my self. I finished raising my children and now they have their own lives to live and their own mistakes to make.
It is a really difficult road with many potholes but I know you can make it! The idea about the counselor sounds good to me. He/She may have some more helpful ideas. Good luck!
Hi, MC. My kids are grown and the eldest passed away at 52 of a sleep apnea stroke. We were never the parents he thought he deserved and he made that abundantly clear. We made fools of ourselves trying to measure up but never did. It never entered our minds that it might be about him. We were just ordinary folks doing out best and, being human, facing not being perfect. There was no abuse, no moral issues...we were just too 'common'. He was given a scholarship to a private school due to his high IQ starting in middle school and learned there how the privileged lived. His dad worked there weekends to pay for his transportation, which embarrassed him. He was very successful as an adult and well known in his field. He married and had two sons and a granddaughter. He kept them away from us when they were little and shared his opinion of us with them, which they accepted.
We all have hopes and dreams that color our expectations when it comes to our children. I guess they get to have the same thing but our younger son never bought into any of it. However, our older son let him know he saw him as inferior, too. We had no idea that idea was planted during childhood and has colored our younger son's entire adult life.
Looking back, as I read your post, my heart went out to you. What you want and deserve is an ongoing relationship involving mutual respect. Why it hasn't turned out that way is a mystery but your wellbeing, as described by Still Learning, is up to you, not your children. You did your best. Now, you get to 'turn toward that which brings you joy'...and have the rest of your life be about that...or not. Hugs!
Im sorry to hear about your situation, mine is no different. I feel that these children are deriving a huge amount of satisfaction from the results they get by ignoring us, or worse making hurtful comments that cut deep. It is so stressful to ignore that and try to build a life that does not include them and also is very painful to see other families get on with their life and find my situation so alien to them.
As a parent none of us are without some guilt, but when your child starts to question your parenting, the guilt magnifies and is then set in stone as you are not allowed to argue back, for fear of recriminations ,like total rejection.
I think that the solutions given here are great, but it is a hugely painful thing to do. Also there are the mutterings of friends and extended family that of course it must be the parent's fault, especially for Mum and daughter relationship.
I live in hope that life gets better.