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How do I cope with an anxious daughter who feels the need to control me?


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My adult daughter tries to control my life and has been doing so since my husband (her father) passed away 9 years ago. I did go through a temporary rough patch after he passed but never lost control of my life except I lost a lot of weight and became dehydrated leaving me in the hospital a few times. She freaked out which I understand b/c I am her sole parent now.

Once I started dating a few years after that, she became worse and constantly had to know about my dates. I dated someone on and off for about 6 yrs and she resented him so bad that I had to keep them separated most of the time. She couldn't see what I liked about him. The reality was that he was very good to me but he did have a bit of a troubled past when it came to money but he was recovering slowly from that. In any event, I broke up with him over a year ago and starting see a nice man from out of town. While she was a little better for a while, lately she's started over again. When she asks about my weekend plans and tell her he is visiting, she either makes a face or says why can't you go 1 weekend without seeing him (which I did when she visited 2 months ago b/c I know she didn't want to see him). She also says I should be spending more time with my girlfriends "because when you break up with him you'll have no one". Nice huh??

She also constantly asks what I'm eating even though I gained the weight back a few years ago.

I tried a few months ago to tell her that I am a grown women and can take care of myself and she need not worry or get involved in my life by micromanaging it. I don't do that to her.

Unfortunately the one time she met my bf, she was turned off by his outspokenness. she felt he was disrespectful (I don't though). She is visiting again soon with her finance for 8 days and I don't want to ban him from my home and he wants to see her and maybe get a 2nd chance with her.

How do I proceed?

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You have to establish boundaries in a calm but firm way. Not accusing her- do I statements "I feel uncomfortable when you ask so many questions about my personal life and when you give me unsolicited advice. How about we leave it that if I want your input I will ask."

 

I would tell her that you are happy to host her and her fiancee, that your boyfriend will be there part of the time and you expect them to treat him cordially. And that if they cannot do that perhaps they can make other plans when your boyfriend stays over.

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I'm sorry about all this.

 

I admit I can't help but read this without thinking of your post from a few days ago, in which you felt your boyfriend was being controlling. Now it's your daughter. Hard not to wonder if there's a bigger root here that you're struggling to find, one in which, for whatever reasons, you have a tendency to feel controlled by those close to you. Have you ever explored it all from that angle, either internally or with some guidance? Or do you think your previous post was a reflection of internalizing some of your daughter's view on you?

 

In terms of the specifics here? I would tell your daughter that you're looking forward to her visit, and that you're also hoping it can be a chance to get to know your boyfriend a bit more. Perhaps suggest a dinner the four of you, and ask her which of the eight nights works best, so she's part of the plan. However she responds to that, of course, is up to her, nothing you can control. And if she responds with judgement—well, you can tell her you understand and ask that she and her fiancé make plans on night x (or x and y) when you're going to see your boyfriend.

 

In that, you show her—and, most critically, yourself—that there is only one person who has control over you, and that is in fact you.

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I do wonder to some degree if she maybe has a point on the men you are dating. Dating someone who has been financially irresponsible and also someone is is outspoken on a first meeting, is questionable, to be fair.

 

If she felt disrespected, that's not good. I mean, first impressions are everything and really can make or break a situation with family.

 

It's quite possible as well that she doesn't feel you're responsible either due to allowing yourself to be hospitalized a few times over something like becoming dehydrated.

 

Don't get me wrong, I do think she has anxiety issues that need to be addressed, but she's not totally off base in being concerned over the choices you're making and how responsible you're actually being.

 

I think both of you need to consider the fact that there are issues on both sides...yours and hers.

 

She potentially needs counselling due to her anxiety issues, you potentially need to step back and consider if you are actually bringing not the best men into your life and if you were careless with your health and situation which is why your daughter no longer feels you're making the right choices.

 

I think there needs to be improvement on both sides.

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I think you have to have a frank but cautious conversation with her....

 

explaining your love for her and appreciation for her concern but if you respect her boundaries, she needs to respect yours. its is simple as that. she has a fiance and wants to spend time with him, right? why shouldn't you want to be with your boyfriend every weekend?

 

what's fair is fair - as grown women. she needs to respect boundaries but I can see why you would want to be delicate about it. ask her what can be done to help her reduce her anxiety while still leaving space for you to do you.

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but never lost control of my life except I lost a lot of weight and became dehydrated leaving me in the hospital a few times

 

To be honest, if you allowed yourself to become THAT dehydrated that you landed up in the hospital a few times, you did (to some degree), lose control.

 

That made an impression on her and created anxiety, which you again recognized and admitted that it's fair due to her only having one parent left.

 

So there are a few things going on here that created this situation and it's not all due to her just being difficult.

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I admit I can't help but read this without thinking of your post from a few days ago, in which you felt your boyfriend was being controlling. Now it's your daughter. Hard not to wonder if there's a bigger root here that you're struggling to find, one in which, for whatever reasons, you have a tendency to feel controlled by those close to you. Have you ever explored it all from that angle, either internally or with some guidance? Or do you think your previous post was a reflection of internalizing some of your daughter's view on you?.

I was thinking the same thing. You have a controlling boyfriend and now also a controlling daughter?

 

As bluecastle states so eloquently: ..." there is only one person who has control over you, and that is in fact you."

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I recall your first post and my sense that you were in the role of being passive in your romantic relationships.

I can't help but wonder if your daughter had a voice in all of this what she might say.

Your history of succumbing to being ill due to stress. A boyfriend with money issues and now one who's possibly controlling.

Is it possible your daughter has good reason to be concerned or is she just mysteriously controlling where you're concerned?

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If you constantly volunteer the personal details of your relationship or your romantic life to people, they'll offer advice and make suggestions where they feel it's best. This is human nature 101. Keep your private issues and decisions to yourself and don't leave it up for discussion. Your relationship should not be discussed with your daughter in detail. He's your boyfriend, end of story. Your daughter is assuming the adult/parenting role because you don't seem to be able to create better boundaries.

 

Let the other issues go. If she's anxious around you, so are you. Both of you are feeding off of each others issues. End that cycle.

 

If your boyfriend wants to spend time at the house while she's visiting with her fiance, they all follow your rules. Including the boyfriend. If they can't get along, she can spend the night elsewhere. She's a grown woman. Your boyfriend may not be your boyfriend long either if he can't respect your family members.

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I'm just going to write what I'm thinking. I may be way wrong, but it feels like you are leaving out important info and these are my intuitive thoughts based on my experiences.

Were the hospitalizations due to alcohol? Do you have a history of substance use, depression, or anything like that?

How old was your daughter when her father passed away?

Again, I could be way off, but my gut reaction is there is some bigger issue which you are in denial of and which your daughter has suffered a lot from.

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Is this the BF who bosses you around to play golf and tells you what to eat, and how to run your daughters wedding?

 

Has the relationship with your daughter been conflicted all along? Or since her father died? Or since you started dating again?

 

Or ... Just since you started dating the golf guy who's trying to run your life and run her wedding?

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Thanks for your replies. I do admit I don’t stand up as I should to those that push me around. This happens with a few people in my life right now including one at work. I avoid conflict but the price is internal upset and stress.

While I understand my daughters feeling a need to protect me and anxiety about it, I also need to take control of my life. Somehow I need to assure her that I can make good decisions and she need not track my every move. I also need to assure her that no matter who I’m with I’ll always have her as my priority. I don’t believe it’s an excuse for her behavior if she doesn’t like my partner for any reason other than if they don’t treat me right.

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Thanks for your replies. I do admit I don’t stand up as I should to those that push me around. This happens with a few people in my life right now including one at work. I avoid conflict but the price is internal upset and stress.

While I understand my daughters feeling a need to protect me and anxiety about it, I also need to take control of my life. Somehow I need to assure her that I can make good decisions and she need not track my every move. I also need to assure her that no matter who I’m with I’ll always have her as my priority. I don’t believe it’s an excuse for her behavior if she doesn’t like my partner for any reason other than if they don’t treat me right.

 

See- you avoid conflict because it's easier - the price is worth it because then you can feel sorry for yourself - think about whether the upsides of being reasonably assertive is worth the hard work. You do NOT need to assure your daughter of anything. At all. Simply tell her that you are fine and if you need her input you will let her know. Does she not know she is your priority as her child? Really? And yes if you were being abused or in imminent danger then your loved ones should step in. But that's not this situation, right?

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I’m definitely not being abused. He treats me very good and also my adult son who he sees on a regular basis.

 

That wasn't my point -I made the hypothetical point that I could see her interfering if you were being abused.

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I also need to take control of my life.

 

You don't need to explain your personal or romantic decisions to your adult daughter. Keep it simple and live your life by example. Less talk, more do. Live those boundaries. Don't just talk about them.

 

You'll be just fine.

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Although, to be fair...if the daughter is experiencing anxiety, reassurance is the best approach. I don't know the daughters situation, but if she is experiencing

 

an anxiety disorder or fear of losing her mother due to only having one parent left, then reassurance that you're safe and that she is your priority, will help.

 

Obviously I don't feel that she should strong arm you and boss you around, so there really is a fine line between someone just being bossy and someone who is highly anxious.

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Although, to be fair...if the daughter is experiencing anxiety, reassurance is the best approach. I don't know the daughters situation, but if she is experiencing

 

an anxiety disorder or fear of losing her mother due to only having one parent left, then reassurance that you're safe and that she is your priority, will help.

 

Obviously I don't feel that she should strong arm you and boss you around, so there really is a fine line between someone just being bossy and someone who is highly anxious.

 

Yes, reassurance that she is safe in general for sure - but I don't think she has to cater to her daughter with details because her daughter will likely just take it and run with it and find ways to pry and pester for more details. "I am living my life in a safe and healthful way - I promise you - I am here with you."

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I've resisted asking and does matter? May I ask how old the poster is?

I just think of mother and my friends parents and the concerns that come with the it choices and reasoning depending on their age.

 

My mother might have written something similar. Most certainly not about dating but some of the choices she made as she grew older.

I know she would get offended with my interference sometimes. But as time went on she became in increasingly vulnerable.

 

There is an almost to be expected parent/child role reversal that happens.

The poster has shared her vulnerabilities, but not her age.

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Thanks for your replies. I do admit I don’t stand up as I should to those that push me around. This happens with a few people in my life right now including one at work. I avoid conflict but the price is internal upset and stress.

While I understand my daughters feeling a need to protect me and anxiety about it, I also need to take control of my life. Somehow I need to assure her that I can make good decisions and she need not track my every move. I also need to assure her that no matter who I’m with I’ll always have her as my priority. I don’t believe it’s an excuse for her behavior if she doesn’t like my partner for any reason other than if they don’t treat me right.

 

You know what to do, it's just a matter of finding the inner strength to do it. My father passed away two years ago, so I'm now extra concerned about my mom. She's had health issues as well. But I also realize she can take care of herself. So while I might make a suggestion here and there, I generally let her run with her life. Just be gentle and kind and let your daughter know that you appreciate her concern, but that you can handle things yourself. If you need her help, you'll ask her. Treat her like an adult and let her know you love her, and she should eventually come to terms with things.

 

It can be difficult to stand up for yourself. The anxiety and stress of confronting issues is not pleasant to deal with. But if you don't, then you still end up feeling bad and nothing gets resolved. You should feel free to speak your mind and live how you want to live, making your own choices. You've overcome a lot, so you are a strong women. Don't let anyone push you around. Best of luck to you.

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So I said something to my boyfriend yesterday like I daughter is a little anxious about meeting you again since the only other time she met you last year did not go well( she felt he was critical and disrespectful since he critiqued our cat who she loves dearly and she said he was picking on her. She cried a little about it too). I was hoping for him to say that she has nothing to worry about course will get along. Instead, he said she is crazy. I didn’t know what to say exactly but I replied by saying well you know your relationship with my daughter is still important so we got to make it work and he nodded yes. I’m real really anxious about first asking my daughter to see him again and then how he will behave so that I know get along. Is his response indicative of another bad encounter with my daughter?

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I can’t keep them apart forever if he is part of my life. The bigger question is do I want to be with someone who can’t be somewhat understanding of my daughter who I know is anxious but she’s not crazy. I do love him very much and he does too but is this a deal breaker?

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Your daughter comes first. If there are people out there (any people), who refuse to accept that your daughter has anxiety issues, won't accept, and won't be kind about it and instead berates, then you as her mother, need to protect her from those kinds of people. Her anxiety will get worse if she has people put her down even more over her anxiety issues.

 

The first time anyone called my child crazy, is the last time they would see me. End of.

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