Suzanne Says

Questions & Answers

October 2005

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Question: I read your article, “It's Never Too Late to Have a Good Relationship with your Grown Children” on your website, and it was very useful but I wonder if you have suggestions in my particular problem.  My daughter has been married 3 years now and we have had an extremely good relationship thus far. Lately she has become extremely opinionated and has said some harsh things to me regarding that I should be a better parent and lets me know that other mothers do things in certain ways.  She has even written this to me and asked me to try and change to do what others do.

I am accepting that I have not been a perfect parent and am forgiving myself, but think that it is not the real problem for her.  She is now circulating with people of higher education than me and I can't help but think that she is embarrassed with me and wants me to be like them. 

Well we were having a conversation and she started telling me what I do wrong and what I should do. I was so upset that I began to cry and said to her that I do not appreciate her calling me to tell me how bad I am and I put the phone down.  I was crying when my husband came in and he got upset called her and asked what she was doing; she always thinks she is right and said she didn't know and hung up on him.  He returned the call and said that she had no right to upset me and if she had issues she should sort them out and that she was not welcome the next day for dinner (she and her husband always come for dinner every other Sunday and the other Sunday to his parents). Next, I received a voicemail from her saying that she didn't know what lies I had told her father but not to worry she would not be talking to us ever again and she was changing her phone number and if anyone in the family wanted to know why she didn't talk to us anymore they could listen to her father's message. 

 I have been trying to think of how to talk to her about this but I get tongue tied and don't always come out with what I want to say in an educated way, she is very intelligent she goes to University and always has the upper hand in verbalizing.  Any help you can give me would be very much appreciated thank you. C. Cartwright


Answer: I can only imagine how painful this is for you to be criticized and rejected by your daughter after experiencing a close relationship. Yes, I agree with you that when we parented our children in the past, we made mistakes and that we must forgive ourselves for being unaware. Working on your own self-esteem to be proud of who you are regardless of your education level is important too.

You did not tell me how old your daughter is. Developmentally people in their 20’s are learning to stand on their own two feet and to separate from parents. Add to this a marriage where two people come together and blend their past: their upbringing, beliefs, values etc. 

Many times when separating from one’s roots and observing how other people live and think and feel, as well as, reading self-help books, going to therapy, or taking a class in human development in college, it is common to see the mistakes of the former generation.

As we work on understanding ourselves it is common to look at our childhood which does affect us for life. It may even be necessary to focus on what hurt us and see our parents’ faults. It is a private journey to heal ourselves. Blaming parents who also had dysfunctional parents is not the long-term solution to our healing.

Unfortunately, the methods of communication in your family have hurt all of you. Each of you feels victimized and hurt. In the future you can be the leader in starting new patterns of communication. If you cannot talk to your daughter, consider writing her letters. In no uncertain terms you need to express to her how much you love her, miss seeing her, and have good intentions to have a better relationship with her. Thank her for being the catalyst to improving family relationships and communication. In healthy communication, with an expression of honest feelings, it has to go both ways.

Even though your husband was trying to help, he needs to only communicate with your daughter when he wants to work on his relationship with her and not take on your issues. Go slowly and know there are no quick fixes as you change and heal and grow.

Click here to read my article, “Building Sound Communication.”






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