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How to get my adult daughter to stop controlling me??


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My daughter has had a habit  of being extremely overprotective. After I lost my husband which is her dad she’s only got a lot worse especially because I had a hard time after he passed and I didn’t take care of myself. I started dating within a year and a half or two years and she’s never had anything good to say about anyone I’ve dated except for one person.

 

Fast forward over a decade later, and I believe I have found a really great guy. I’ve seen him for a year and we decided to get an apartment closer to where he lives but I’m gonna still keep my house until next summer since I work part time near my home. Essentially, I’ll be spending a few days at my house and the rest of the time.  I told her this a few months ago and all she said to me was well just don’t get married.  
 

Now that we’ve gotten the apartment she is freaking out and making me feel guilty for not spending time back at the house where my son lives nearby our family cat and also that I should spend more time with my girlfriends.  She says I don’t need to see my boyfriend every weekend etc. etc. and he should come to me because of the price of gas on and on and on. 
 

How do I get her to back off and  let me live my own life? Every time she calls I cringe because I know she’ll have some thing derogatory to say about my choices. 
 

i’ve experienced with this with her many times before and sometimes I just tell her to back off but it never lasts. I’m already 65 years old and I just don’t have the strength to keep on fighting.

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No need to fight. Politely shut it down.  Speak with her until she says something inappropriate or disrespectful.  Then say politely - thanks for your concern/sharing that information (whatever) - I'm good and I'll let you know if I need your input, k? If she persists then when she comes up for air say "thanks for sharing. I have to go now.  Have a good day!"

I have a 13 year old.  When he speaks to me disrespectfully or whines at me I sometimes give him a warning and sometimes not but I stop all interaction. If he then addresses me respectfully I matter of factly continue interacting.  

She cannot make you feel anything.  You can only control you and your reactions.  Choose reactions that politely assert your boundaries and your unwllingness to play at the game of adult daughter inappropriately inserting herself into your life.

I'm glad you met a good guy and I am very sorry for the loss of your husband.  My mom is 87 and my sister and I feel so protective of her.  Our father died almost 6 years ago and they were married 60 years.  She lives alone.  We worry and we try not to cross boundaries because we love her.  It's so hard to be restrained but we love her and we show our love by exercising restraint -then venting to each other about when we worry lol.

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Hi! Welcome to the forum. 

Do you mind sharing a bit more about what happened after your husband passed? When you say "I didn't take care of myself", what do you mean exactly? Did your daughter have to step up and take a caregiving role with you? 

I'm asking because depending on the severity of her fear about losing you, and if there's trauma involved for her with that, the dynamic might need a bit more work than just boundary setting IMO. 

Basically, have she had a real reason in the past or now to worry you can not take care of yourself? 

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1 hour ago, lookingforrelief said:

I told her this a few months ago and all she said to me was well just don’t get married.  

I am gona ask something a bit personal: Is your daughter a bit materialistic?

I had a grandfather. He was a widower for quite some time. But he met a nice granny after a while. She was a widow too, they lived close, heard every day, seen each other, he helped her around, she came for Patron Saint day etc. They were basically in a relationship and we all thought it was cute. But he said that her daughters objected because they thought he would take advantage of her somehow and that they would have to share her possessions with him after she dies. Even thought they had an arrangement between themselves where every one of them would keep their own possessions and that they would keep seeing eachother just casually without intent to get married and share each other stuff after one is gone.

Anyway, your daughter is also maybe having those kind of concerns. While she is maybe just worried about you, her intentions behind it might have different conotacions. Its maybe just her not accepting that she would get "a new dad". Or overprotection. But I think enough has passed that she accepts that you are an adult and that can do what you want, including having a life with somebody else.

That being said, I think you should tell her that. You are 65. You are not a baby and perfectly capable of making your own decisions. And that if you want to see somebody and live with somebody, its your call, not hers. 

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I had the opposite problem with a prying, critical mom. I stopped telling her things.

When she asked, instead of giving her an answer, I said, "I love you, and I always will--but--if the price of dealing with you remains criticism and complaints, you'll be hearing a lot less information from me--not more."

Then I kissed her and said, "Let's lift one another UP, okay?"

Our relationship improved dramatically, but to this day I don't volunteer information that will prompt negative comment. I already know where we disagree, so why fan that flame?

Head high, and I hope you'll let us know how things go.

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10 hours ago, lookingforrelief said:

My daughter has had a habit  of being extremely overprotective. After I lost my husband which is her dad she’s only got a lot worse especially because I had a hard time after he passed and I didn’t take care of myself. I started dating within a year and a half or two years and she’s never had anything good to say about anyone I’ve dated except for one person.

How is she coping with the loss of her father?

Of course, you're free to date whomever now. But remember, you and her dad were together for, I presume, a long time. Thus, has she ever considered that you dating another man after his death might be a possibility? Even for it to get serious? Maybe that's never crossed her mind before and now that it is happening she doesn't know how to deal with it.

As for your daughter's over-protectiveness in general, perhaps consider being selective on the information you share.

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When she starts having a go at you for your personal choices, end the conversation. You know she is not going back off of her own volition, so it's time you laid down stronger boundaries. Stop trying to justify yourself to her, or convince her that she needs to stop. That hasn't worked for a decade so it's not going to work now. Simply, kindly, end the conversation. 

It sounds like she doesn't want to see you with any other man, which I understand would be hard after losing her dad. However, it's been more than 10 years it's also important that you find your happiness again and if she cannot support you in that, don't engage in conversation with her about it. 

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Well, you raised this person. (smiling) 

Has she always been this way? Is she like this on other things or just the guy? 

I don't think passive aggressive acts  that work with children solve adult problems. 

I would try to be more direct and have a conversation. Are you two capable of that? How's the communication?

If you can hold an adult conversation, the next time she brings it up. Plan to say something like:

I know you miss dad. I do, too. I see how protective you are of me and think you're only doing what's best but can I talk to you about this from my perspective?

Of course you'll do this in your own words etc.  Before hand write out some of your key points so you know what you want to say.  

Make it about you and your feelings not about her.  Comfort her that you are ok and you will be.  And that you love her so much.  She needn't worry so much that it strains things between the two of you. 

 

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8 hours ago, MissCanuck said:

Stop trying to justify yourself to her, or convince her that she needs to stop. That hasn't worked for a decade so it's not going to work now. Simply, kindly, end the conversation. 

I agree. Don't reward what she seeks--attention through a lens of the problem SHE is creating.

Sure, you love daughter and want to maintain your relationship, so I wouldn't just end the conversation and withdraw from her. I'd change the dynamic.  

First, stop volunteering stuff you already know she disagrees with. That's the part YOU play in setting off the conflict. 

Then, when daughter asks a question beyond those limits, you can simply fail to answer. You don't 'owe' a reply that addresses the question, but rather, you can respond with a statement of your limits, instead.

Give her the classic 'love sandwich'. A layer of love, followed by a statement of your boundary, followed by another layer of love.

"I love you, and while I want to share parts of my life that make me happy, when the cost of doing that is criticism from you, I'm not willing to do it. Let's love one another with respect for those limits, okay?"

Rinse, repeat whenever necessary. If she won't cooperate with the request and badgers you, THAT is when to shut down the convo. You can even be nice about it, "I love ya, darling, good bye."

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1 hour ago, Lambert said:

I don't think passive aggressive acts that work with children solve adult problems. 

I would try to be more direct and have a conversation. Are you two capable of that? How's the communication?

If you can hold an adult conversation ...

I agree with this approach if daughter is capable of the mutual respect required to go there.

If not, no need to separate 'child psychology' from any other, because we are ALL manipulative children when we're acting out our wounds--only we're better at it from experience.

Often raising and enforcing your own limits are needed to stop another's bad behavior before good behavior can take root. That's fine, it plants the seeds.

If your daughter is capable of the kind of convo Lamber raises, that would be a terrific approach. If not, shut down the bad stuff and allow time for reflection. Interrupting a pattern is the goal, and a lot of good stuff can happen from that.

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Have you asked her specifically what her concerns are?  I notice you said you have found a guy whom you BELIEVE is a great guy, it sounds like there's still some room for doubt (as there would be with someone you've only known a year).  What are his details?  Is there an age difference?   What is his background and his financial situation?  Not what has he told you? but what is it ACTUALLY?

I know after my father died I wouldn't have been cool with my mother marrying some guy and then something happens to her and he makes off with everything my parents built and goes and buys himself a new wife.  Nor would I ever do that to my kids.  It is not at all unusual for men to prey on lonely older women, especially those with money.  I'd spend some time looking at this from her perspective and see if any of her concerns are valid.

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Have you asked what reason she needs to be this way? Why she has so many concerns? Is she worried this guy could take you for your money? Does this guy have a decent income? Have you made some poor choices in the past that would make her act this way? Mental illness? and what did happen after you lost your husband? can you elaborate on that? We need more information and get a bigger picture before any of our advice can help you.

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3 minutes ago, BlueTirant said:

I would say try family counseling,  It does help you to be able to communicate and listen to one another,  especially parents and children 

I would not do so in this case because the child is an adult and the mother is entitled to live her life.  But if there is someone they both trust and respect -even a religious figure at their place of worship -it wouldn't hurt to discuss.  If the daughter is having difficulty with her mother moving on she can seek individual therapy once her mother asserts appropriate boundaries.

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It's none of her business who you're dating, unless the person is bad or abusive and she's showing her concern for that reason. It's none of her business if you want to marry this man or not. She has no right to say: "Well just don't get married". It's been ten years since her father passed away and that's selfish of her to think that you're going to be alone forever just because SHE wants you to be.

I think you need to be very upfront with your daughter and say: "Look, I know you look out for me bit that's MY choice who I date and want to marry. I don't tell you who to date so I would appreciate the same from you." Don't listen to her, just do what you want. If you're happy with this guy and you want to get married to each other then do it.

Parents sacrifice a lot for their children but she's now an adult. You don't need to put your life aside for her now. If she loves you she needs to be happy for you that you found someone.

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5 hours ago, BlueTirant said:

I would say try family counseling,  It does help you to be able to communicate and listen to one another,  especially parents and children 

This might be a great idea, OP, if daughter agrees to it.

It might be helpful to have her choose the counselor and set up first appointment, as this would demonstrate her buy-in and give her that degree of control. Otherwise, I'd be careful about spending the money only to drag her there if her mind is closed.

You're the only one who knows daughter well enough to gauge this.

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On 7/8/2022 at 1:28 PM, itsallgrand said:

Hi! Welcome to the forum. 

Do you mind sharing a bit more about what happened after your husband passed? When you say "I didn't take care of myself", what do you mean exactly? Did your daughter have to step up and take a caregiving role with you? 

I'm asking because depending on the severity of her fear about losing you, and if there's trauma involved for her with that, the dynamic might need a bit more work than just boundary setting IMO. 

Basically, have she had a real reason in the past or now to worry you can not take care of yourself? 

I agree, this sounds trauma based. What happened when her dad died? This sounds like anxiety and anxiety ridden people seek to control. Did life go off the rails when her dad died?

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How to Stop Controlling Partner
How to Stop Controlling Partner

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