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Thread: How to handle relationship with daughter...

  1. #1
    Platinum Member maew's Avatar
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    How to handle relationship with daughter...

    Hey all;

    Thought I would post as I am feeling stuck, sad and a little defeated this morning and I need some objective views to hopefully help me see the way forward here.

    I have a 27 y/0 daughter that for all intents and purposes, doesn't seem to want to have a relationship with me. I love this human being beyond words... like I just want to cry thinking about it.

    The issue I am having is that when I reach out to her, she generally ignores me until I literally beg and plead for her to call me... and then she will, and tell me everything is fine, and we have a great conversation, and then poof she disappears again.

    It wasn't always this way. I was a single mom and we were very close while she was growing up. When she turned 17, she went completely off the rails... like refused to come home, would bring alcohol and drugs into our home (I am in recovery so this didn't sit well with me) and eventually ran away to live with her friend, and then her boyfriend once she turned 18... she didn't talk to me for probably a year after that and then slowly but surely we built our relationship back up again until she and I were talking pretty much weekly and seeing each other once every few weeks.

    Why didn't she talk to me? She said that she felt guilty every time she did... so she avoided me... thought I didn't accept her or that I was judging her... so I took that to heart, and worked on just connecting with her and trying to accept her for who she was and where she was at.

    Slowly she turned her life around, and built a life that made her happy... she has a long term BF who is a really nice human, they own a condo, she has a job at a restaurant that she loves, he works for his dad... overall they are pretty stable. She has been working on what she calls "adulting"... taking care of her responsibilities and has come a long way.

    She doesn't ask for anything... neither of them do... they are both very independent, and even though I would love to help her has always wanted to stand on her own two feet.

    We have had quite a few heart to hearts and she gives me no clues as to why she ignores or doesn't respond, she just says she is busy or working or her phone is broken or whatever... and it's not just me, her other parents and grandparents never hear from her despite reaching out to her regularly she for some reason refuses to respond to them.

    I guess I am at a loss as to what to do. I don't want to give up... I suppose I fear that if I do, I will never hear from her... but maybe that's what she wants and I should honor that. I feel so much guilt and sadness, not just for me but for the rest of her family that doesn't hear from her.

    Should I give up and just let go until she reaches out? I've wanted to many times but I always feel horribly guilty at not making an effort to contact her. The other side is that I know I am being super codependent and that the only way out of codependency is to let go of the relationship... but how on earth do you let go of a relationship with your only child??

    I have no idea what to do... would love if someone has some perspectives they can share from the parenting side or the child side.

  2. #2
    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    For what it's worth, I think you are focused too much on two polar extremes in either be very very close, talk all the time and see each other regularly or give up completely. Except between these extremes there is a healthy middle.

    What you are going through is defining adult boundaries and she is right that she is finally focused and living her own life. Good job mom! Seriously. Appreciate that despite all the challenges you had, you raised your daughter to be where she is at today.

    As for the relationship, you will always be mom, but now that she is grown up and stable, she doesn't need to talk to mom that much and when you push....you get a normal human reaction of not quite wanting to deal with it. Try backing off a little bit or even a lot and trust in the fact that she'll always be your daughter and you'll always be her mom and there is no need to jump to extremes of either being best bbf's or not speaking at all.

    Kids grow up and move on to live their own lives and when they do, you, as a parent, did a good job of raising them. That means that contact between you will become less. Maybe you check in once a month, see each other on just holidays, etc. Kids are supposed to leave the nest and.....stay out it, if all goes well. As for friendship, you need to have your own friends and don't lean on your daughter to be your bff. You have to let her grow up and when you relax and step back, I think you'll find that she'll start to remember to call you and check up on you.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    You did a good job. She's doing well. Do you have any of the social media she does? Why post some things on them that are upbeat/interesting, make sure to invite her to follow, friend, etc. Get up to date on this so you can "speak her language" (social media) so to speak. Everyone snaps, instas, tweets, likes, etc. Nobody talks anymore..especially to a parent.

    Then...occasionally...'like' or post something positive on her pages. The one-on-one calling may not be her lifestyle at this point. She probably is busy with her social media on her phone all day...that's how it is. Don't beg or nag...she'll just eye-roll and hit ignore. Nothing personal...just how the reality is now..
    Originally Posted by maew
    I have a 27 y/0 daughter that for all intents and purposes, doesn't seem to want to have a relationship with me. I love this human being beyond words... like I just want to cry thinking about it. The issue I am having is that when I reach out to her, she generally ignores me until I literally beg and plead for her to call me... and then she will, and tell me everything is fine, and we have a great conversation, and then poof she disappears again.

    she turned her life around, and built a life that made her happy... she has a long term BF who is a really nice human, they own a condo, she has a job at a restaurant that she loves, he works for his dad... overall they are pretty stable. She has been working on what she calls "adulting"... taking care of her responsibilities and has come a long way.

  4. #4
    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    First things first: big internet hugs.

    My gut response, reading this, is that you just keep doing what you’re doing: being there, basically, but with a different approach, one based more on faith than fear. Rather than the begging and pleading, just step back a bit without thinking in terms of “never” and “forever.” You’ve done a good job, have raised an independent woman. Take some solace in that.

    If you’d like, you could take a moment to write her a letter that lets her know that your instincts right now are to give her space—but also that you love her and are here for her, always: phone on, door and heart open. She might reply, she might not—both are equally fine. You could also write such a letter and not send it, to affirm those hard facts for yourself—that you love her and are here for her, having faith in those truths without needing them validated by her right away.

    If I had to guess, she probably doesn’t quite understand the distancing herself. Whatever is behind that instinct remains mysterious, but that doesn’t mean it’s permanent or a verdict, just something she is needing right now. What today feels scary will very likely in the future be seen as a period of recalibration, something I think happens here and there between adults and children. Growing out of one dynamic so you can grow into another, with these junctures being a form of growing pains, the emotional variety.

    Feeling for you. I kind of have an inverse of this relationship with my father.

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  6. #5
    Platinum Member reinventmyself's Avatar
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    I went through something similar with my first son. He started to pull away at about 17 and came back around 23-25. It was a confusing and painful time and you think of everything you put into the relationship, giving birth and cultivating that relationship, just to have them turn their back on you.

    I read an article about this stage of a young persons life and how they need to separate in order to grow and be autonomous from their parent. The article helped and though I still fought daily to not take it personally, he did come back in his early 20's, a mature young man.

    My sons are 5 years apart and like clockwork, the youngest son did the same exact thing.

    It helped to reflect back to their age and how clueless I was about my own parents feelings. I certainly wasn't worrying about them back then.

    While not trying to minimize your discomfort, it helped to remind myself repeatedly that it was a normal transition for all of us.

    Let her go. She'll be back.
    Last edited by reinventmyself; 11-25-2019 at 03:12 PM.

  7. #6
    Platinum Member maew's Avatar
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    Thank you all so much... I never looked at it as a positive that she was independent and didn't "need" her mum but you are so right. She is doing well, and happy, and living the life she wants which is all I have ever wanted for her.

    I suppose in all honesty I did have expectations of what our relationship would look like... have tried to control it through begging and guilt tripping to make it be the way I wanted it to be... however in doing so am not accepting of what she wants or where she is at in life... pushing her further away. I guess it's like any other relationship isn't it? We have to let it go so it will be what it is supposed to be, and focus on living our own lives.

    Fortunately I have a very full life of my own, so this doesn't come up often, however this time of year tends to bring up a lot of feelings for me, unmet expectations, disappointments, grief, etc., when in reality I have a lot to be grateful for and that's what I need to focus on, and just process the feelings as they come instead of acting on them.

    I suppose I always thought being a parent would get easier as they get older... and it does in ALOT of ways, however there still always seems to be something to worry about with kids no matter how old they are!

  8. #7
    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    It's called the empty nest syndrome for a reason. :)

    You did all that raising and caring and then....boom....they flew the coup and they are doing well. Meanwhile, you are kind of......missing something....it's quite literally suddenly quiet and empty feeling. That's normal though, but in a good kind of way. I doubt she gets it and won't until she is in your shoes. It's just kind of how life works. It's way harder on you right now in terms of adjusting and not quite on her radar that anything is really wrong. Bottom line though is that you should be proud of her and yourself. You did a good job!

  9. #8
    Platinum Member reinventmyself's Avatar
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    The irony of parenthood.
    You know you've done a good job when they want to leave you.

  10. #9
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    Excellent. Ok post some pics/videos on social media. Then she'll be nudging her friends..'whoa... check this out...my mom is skydiving again'. But seriously, it's normal and just be ok that she came out so well. Keep in mind holidays tend to bring this stuff out from nowhere.
    Originally Posted by maew
    Fortunately I have a very full life of my own, so this doesn't come up often, however this time of year tends to bring up a lot of feelings for me, unmet expectations, disappointments, grief, etc., when in reality I have a lot to be grateful for and that's what I need to focus on, and just process the feelings as they come instead of acting on them.

  11. #10
    Platinum Member itsallgrand's Avatar
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    Not only did you raise an independent young woman, you instilled in her a sense of security in knowing her mom is an independent strong woman who doesn't need her children to survive and thrive. That's such a priceless gift, as it's giving her the opportunity to grow into her own.

    I do think it's a common phase, particularly in our twenties, to distance some from parents while we discover who we are separately. I know I did, and then later I had a deeper appreciation for my mom as a person - not only as a mom - and enjoyed spending time with her in that new way.

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