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Totally at a loss with adult DD and behaviour. How do I move forward?

(31 Posts)
SpringyReframed Fri 27-Dec-13 12:07:31

Really sorry but this is going to be long.
This is the 3rd Christmas since my ex Twunt and I separated. It has all been terrible and well discussed on here with DV, financial difficulties and all round unbelievable shite. It is still not over and done with regard to divorce finances but I've had lots of counselling and really feel I have moved on and feel recovered and strong. I do feel very alone at times but I am coping. I was congratulated at court by my barrister and solicitor over how I lack bitterness etc.
Because of the circumstances with assault - OW being only 3 years older than DD etc (and his behaviour in the 3 years before the split, drinking and being generally extremely obnoxious whilst leading double life) none of my 3 DC's aged 18 and above have any contact with their father. (He has up to this year sent them cards at Christmas and Birthday but nothing this Christmas.) Oh, and just to add to the mix my mother died in October, and my elderly father lives miles away and I worry about the future for him.
So that's the background. DD who is the eldest, lives abroad. She has been very very difficult since all this happened. Everyone who knows her thinks she is wonderful but with me and her two brothers she has been truely awful. I am sorry to say that I have had some massive rows with her. I have tried to avoid this and have learned through counselling how to cope with her to some extent but it is all very hurtful stuff. She for examples rarely answers any texts or emails, is always busy if you do try to call and rushing somewhere. On the other hand if she wants anything I am expected to jump to her assistance. She never talks about her life at all to me. Not even little things like mothers and daughters do like clothes or shopping.
Now, to this Christmas. She began by being very evasive about when she was coming. She arrived by car and did put herself out to pick up her brother. He told me she drove like a complete nutcase and that "he was never getting in the car with her again". She also brought us all lots of lovely gifts although not thoughtful ones just "what do you want". She did a lot of snapping at me even during the present opening process and called me stupid on quite a few occasions. I ignored it. Then yesterday a few hours before she was due to depart we planned on a walk. She literally shoved her brother out of the way whilst he was putting his shoes on to get to her own. He snapped and told her basically what he thought of her behaviour. Her response was "right well I will never come here again." He said that was not what he was saying but she needed to have her behaviour pointed out to her and how it made us all feel. He said he wouldnt say it if he didnt care and wanted to fix things and of course he could take the easy route and not be in touch with her again. It was getting very nasty and she was in her usual fashion swearing. I ended up joining in. I told her I loved her but it was not acceptable and she had to think about why she behaved towards us in this way. I even said I thought she was probably a very unhappy person. An hour later she departed without saying goodbye although I did call her and she answered. I wished her a good trip and later texted her to ask her to let us know that she had arrived safely. No reply.
She always appears to see things only from her point of view and how they affect her. I've spent this morning thinking about how she behaves and she never "gives" anything.
Where should I go from here? I am totally at a loss as to what to do about this. I would do anything to sort this out but I just cannot see a way forward. I dont really have the time or money to go back to counselling to talk about it. Her living abroad makes things doubly difficult as I cant just pop and see her but I would willingly visit if I were invited. I would really appreciate any suggestions - if any one has managed to get to the end of this.

mammadiggingdeep Fri 27-Dec-13 12:17:10

How old is she?

I think your son was right to call her on the shitty behaviour.

I think, to a certain extent, she's been behaving like that because she has been getting away with it.

tribpot Fri 27-Dec-13 12:17:39

How old is she? And how was she before the divorce happened?

As an adult, you have every right to tell her to wind her neck in and behave appropriately as a guest in your home. On the other hand, how much abuse did she witness over the years? How much drinking? Is she punishing you as the parent she feels safe with, knowing that you won't reject her out of hand as a result?

I think you should consider returning to counselling. And I think you need to let her know, via her brothers if she won't speak to you and/or is likely to rip up a letter from you, that you love her and understand this has been hard for her, and she is always welcome in your house provided she can behave in an adult way.

Please don't ignore her disparaging you - it sends the message that you are still the beaten down person you were when you were with your ex. Show her that you are strong and self-assertive, whilst also calm and rational. In other words, model the behaviour you expect to see in her.

mammadiggingdeep Fri 27-Dec-13 12:21:24

Yes- agree that somehow her behaviour might be 'punishing' you.

You sound a great mum btw. You still rang her and asked for a text even after she'd gone off without saying goodbye. I think you're right to keep trying and showing you care.

Minnieisthechristmasmouse Fri 27-Dec-13 12:23:19

She's early twenties then? I'm afraid I remember being pretty self centred then. Not because I didn't care just coz I was doing stuff planning stuff going places meeting people and my priorities were about how to get what I wanted really, be where I wanted to be, striving to get somewhere socially etc. not family who were obviously by comparison fairly boring or static or plain un cool.

Would this sound familiar? Is she presently about status than personal? Sounds to me like she's reverting to being a young teen when home. Not young adult.

Lay some ground rules. Say what you will accept, then stay quiet. I think she's still upset after divorce and lashing out. It will alter as she gets older.

SpringyReframed Fri 27-Dec-13 12:27:17

She will soon be 28.

I have called her on her behaviour to some extent. I have told her not to speak to me this way, although I didnt this time. Unfortunately I have also said to her early on that she talks to me the way her father did. She was naturally very angry at being compared to him. I have talked about this at counselling. I havent said anything about this for a couple of years to her as I know it is terribly wrong.

She saw him hit me when she was a child which I didnt know until recently. She also knew about his affairs which again I didnt know. I understand she is damaged but she wont see that. She went wild when I suggested counselling.

I think she will speak to me, she usually does in the end. Her brother who the row started with wants an apology. Her younger brother is the one who witness the most abuse, and is caring and kind in bucketfuls.

Elizabeththefirst Fri 27-Dec-13 12:31:17

She probably felt attacked on all sides when you joined in. Sorry.

Good things- she came, she picked up her brother (she probably didn't drive like a maniac on purpose? Some people just do), she got you all presents and bothered to find out what you wanted.

It's an incredibly difficult time for her. She has no contact with her father, because of his new girlfriend who is 3 years older than her- no matter how much that hurt you, it's going to have hurt her ten times more. Imagine being rejected by a parent.

You do seem to have included rather a lot of detail about how things have affected you with no insight as to how they've affected your children.

In your place, I would offer to pay for counselling, and just keep the lines of communication open- even if about small things to begin with, ie an email or text about something in the news she'd like. Keep going even if there's no reply. Hopefully in time this can lead to phone calls and visits and a dialogue about the bigger stuff.

SpringyReframed Fri 27-Dec-13 12:32:16

Before the divorce she was already living abroad. I always felt we had a great relationship and we spent a lot of time together (more than with her brothers) up until she went to Uni because of her sport commitments. Even after she started working and went abroad we used to chat regularly. She dashed home when she found out that I had "chucked out" her father, was very supportive, etc etc. When she found out the age of the OW, then she fell apart.

SpringyReframed Fri 27-Dec-13 12:40:49

Elizabeth, I do realise I have included a lot about how things have affected me because I was trying to give you my perspective. My two older DC's already had their own lives and lived away from the home. The only thing I can tell you about them is that they had contact with their father before the split and now they dont and havent had at all since. My elder son says he was a shit father always so he doesnt miss him at all. He is able to talk about it all with no difficulties.

My youngest who was the only one still at home, has had it worse as he saw what went on. He is still angry with his father and saw him in September but told him not to contact him again. He has come out of it a remarkable young man and I am very proud of what how he has coped.

CalamityKate Fri 27-Dec-13 12:42:03

Like others have said, keep the lines of communication open but absolutely pull her up on her behaviour as and when necessary. Similar to how you'd treat a small child I suppose; tell them off but don't hold grudges.

The law of averages dictates that there's always at least one member of any family that just isn't a very nice person. It sounds as if your daughter is it.

mammadiggingdeep Fri 27-Dec-13 12:45:26

She sounds younger than 28. I thought she was early 20s.

She loves you and knows how to be part of the family unit- coming home to you when you split, picking her bro up, coming home etc.

I would honestly keep trying with her. Could you ask to go and spend a long weekend/week with her where she lives? Book it for a few months time, go and chat and have quality time?

Does she have a partner?

bunchoffives Fri 27-Dec-13 12:49:35

Poor you, it's very hurtful when your own DC speak with such a lack of basic respect to you. Particularly from an adult DC who should know better.

As poster said above, just keep going with the communications even if they receive no response they will at least keep the channel open for the day she does want to respond. But at the same time, when she does get in touch I think you've got to remain firm about your boundaries and what is acceptable.

It does sound as though she's had a hard time with your dv, split, OW etc. In some ways it must be harder for her abroad because she is removed and perhaps can't process it as your DSs can. All you can do is be there for her to speak to, keep showing you care and be firm to not allow any disrespect.

If you can possibly do a bit more counselling about this it might help.

SpringyReframed Fri 27-Dec-13 12:53:29

Minnie my counsellor talked to me a lot about how young women particularly in their 20's become quite selfish etc and I can still remember myself at that age. She does have a very nice life and good job and lots of nice friends. She does not have a boyfriend however and hasnt for a long time. All her friends are starting to pair off and get married etc. I have often probably selfishly thought that if she was in a happy relationship she might change and be happier.
She is pretty close to two of my friends. They are astonished at how she has behaved as they just would not have predicted this.

SpringyReframed Fri 27-Dec-13 12:57:34

Yes, I think in many ways it was worse for her. She lost her father to another young woman. I was very glad to be rid of him.

It sounds really difficult.

If she is such an unhappy person, why do you think this is?

She spent most of her life witnessing abuse, and with a father who showed her mum all kinds of disrespect. I would think she is very torn. On the one hand resentful that she had that life, with drinking, abuse and deceit, she has not exactly had great role models. She came to support you when you chucked him out, as an adult, when she had already left home. The next blow is that her dad has chosen not to be in touch, but has a girl friend almost her age.

In a way, it is too late to raise her, and start modelling good behaviour now. Maybe she does not know any better. I really feel for her.

Dont use her unhappiness against her. You know its causes.
I dont know how you can help her, or get close to her. It sounds like she needs counselling to help her come to terms with her life, her parents, and find her place.

I dont blame you for not having the courage sooner, but maybe she does?

SpringyReframed Fri 27-Dec-13 13:20:59

I have always tried and tried to do what I thought was best for my children. Always. I didnt leave him because I thought it was best for them. I do not think any of them think I should have left earlier but I will ask them.

I am not going to take any blame for any of this. None of it is my fault and none is my children's. I am proud of the way I have coped with my life both before and since. My children did not spend "most of their lives witnessing abuse". Sorry, my post has come across badly. What you need to remember Quintessentialshadows is that it is very easy to know what you should have done in hindsight. I've looked enough at the past. I want to move forward and I am interested in what to do now to keep my family together for a least few gatherings a year and communicate with each other.

I have told my DD many times that we love her, including during the row.

KateAdiesEarrings Fri 27-Dec-13 13:32:10

My df and dm had a relationship similar to your relationship with your ex, and there are some points in your op where I nodded as I could relate completely to your dd's behaviour.

You say she doesn't really talk to you. Growing up in the middle of a DV relationship, I came to realise that I couldn't rely on the adults to protect me. That breeds a self-reliance; a protective shell to try to stop them from disappointing and hurting you again. My dmum could have quite easily said I didn't share with her. I didn't, except on a superficial level. I felt I had to make all the big decisions about my life without her support because she was so subsumed in the DV relationship.

I know it's probably hard to read, and I completely understand why leaving is a long process but that process hurt your dd and I think you should send her a letter explaining how important she is to you. Being in a different country means that she cant' feel as anchored to the new family life that you share with your other children. Yes, that's her choice but it's something you might want to compensate for. Perhaps when you write you could suggest visiting for a weekend - just you and her?

The other point that struck me in your posts is that you are comparing her to your youngest ds. Firstly, their gender is important to how they have responded differently to viewing a DV relationship. Secondly, your ds probably is affected and isn't aware of it yet. However, his behaviour may change when he starts having long-term relationships and that will be when he needs your support too.

Well done on leaving your ex. I know that must have been very difficult but it really is just the start of the journey of healing that your whole family needs.

Maybe you can move forward without looking at the past, you cant decide this for your daughter though. You may have spent a long time looking at the past, maybe she is still struggling through it.

Or maybe she has problems in life, work, love, etc. Or maybe she is just rash and bad tempered. Or just family dynamics. Me and my sister often disagree, and she has one row after another with our dad. She is just volatile. I dont bother anymore, just wait till it blows over, it mostly does. My dad does the same for an easy life. She is too old to expect her to change her behaviour. She wont. She does not see anything wrong.

(Like today, she came back from town, left her shopping in the car, the car in the garage, across the yard, 10 meters on wet ice. Said to me, I left my shopping in the car. Can either of you go get it. I said I can do it later when I go out. She replied "but my bread for my lunch is in the car". I told her there was bread in the freezer and she mumbled "oh fine then, I will just eat bread that is too brown for my stomach to handle and I will just end up feeling unwell". I left her to it. If she has chosen to leave her lunch in the car she cant just say skip, and we all jump across an icy yard to get her bread out. My dh eventually left when he had an errand in the garage. She promptly asked him to go back to the car to check he closed the boot properly as she trusts nobody but herself to close it properly, and we all know how easily the battery of her car drains.

My point is, we all have unreasonable siblings, children, parents, etc. At some point we just give up trying to deal with them, or raise them, or point out the error of their ways, because it will lead to more grief than its worth. It is disappointing to see that your sibling/child/parent is unreasonable, but sometimes you just cant change how they behave only how you react to it.)

You are asking what you can do in future. I dont know how anybody can decide this as it also relates to another person and their behaviour. I guess you can continue as you are (seems you are doing well with love, olive branches and reaching out to her), so not sure what else you can do in terms of yourself. The rest is up to her, is it not?

bunchoffives Fri 27-Dec-13 13:35:27

IMO I wouldn't ask your DC what they about whether you should have left sooner. It will only lead to more anguish. And you can't change the past.

As hard as it is I think you've just got to decide to put it to one side and keep going. Keep going with the loving communication. Let her know you are there and interested. Be firm about boundaries. Live your own life and hope she'll want to be part of it in time.

dozeydoris Fri 27-Dec-13 13:44:42

I don't think she is a terrible person, but whenever she returns home it takes her back to some pretty traumatic times in her life, especially with her living abroad, the past homelife and her unsupportive DF probably don't enter her head a lot of the time.

But DDs in their late 20s can feel left on the shelf, anxious for the future as their friends marry/ have babies etc - quite normal imo.

You would need an expert psychologist to explain the effects on a DD of her father abandoning her, abandoning her for another woman and worse abandoning her for someone her age - what a creepy situation to have to come to terms with.

I think she is still growing up and still coming to terms with the break up at home. Perhaps exacerbated by her not being around the family on a day to day basis. And you should keep in touch, eg send an email about what the family has been doing once a month perhaps, but not expect a response. And I think she will come round as she matures.

My DCs only really 'grew up' once they had settled down with the responsibilities of a home/family of their own.

SoloXantiaClaws Fri 27-Dec-13 14:10:49

You say she fell apart when she found out the age of the OW, so I wonder if she feels as though her father see's her differently or as though he has somehow replaced her with a woman not much older than her, his own daughter.
Not sure I'm making sense, but I know what I'm trying to say.

SpringyReframed Fri 27-Dec-13 14:19:20

Thanks for all your helpful comments. It seems that I have to keep doing what I have been doing for the past few years, more or less.
DD comes here rarely and we do go and visit her. This was the first Christmas we have spent at my house since the split as I instinctively felt we should not be here. It for for my DF that we had Christmas at my house and that was at DD's suggestion.
Kate, thank you for sharing things from the other perspective. I can certainly see that my DD has got the self reliance you mention. However, I dont think for a second that I was absent from the big decisions in her life. When she first went abroad she was in a terrible job and we talked on Skype every night for weeks about it, and whether she would quit or not. She then got one she loves and I understood then that the contact would then very infrequent in comparison. We went to visit loads of Uni's together and some she went to with her friends. I've always been really "there" for her. I've spent wonderful hours I will treasure forever in the car back and forth to sport events with her, supporting her in her success and failures.
I think I can cope better with my difficult relationship with her than I can cope with seeing her difficult relationship with her brothers. I am an only child and I have no first hand knowledge of difficult siblings. As for my sons relationships in the future, I dont think it all has to be doom and gloom. They have both had lovely long term girlfriends who they both parted from eventually on very good terms ie. keep in touch, meet for the odd coffee etc. I am extremely confident they will go on to be happy and good men.
From what everyone has said, it all seems to be a combination of personality, family dynamic and circumstances as well as the divorce stuff that has come together in a painful combination.
I have tried the weekend thing with her but it hasnt happened. For my first birthday after the split she sent me flowers with a card saying your actual present is a weekend at a Spa with me to be arranged. I am still waiting for this bonding event..............and suspect it wont happen for a while now.
Doris I am just hoping that things turn out well in the end once they 'grow up' like you say.

SpringyReframed Fri 27-Dec-13 14:23:43

Sorry just seen your post Solo. I know exactly what you mean and I think the same.
Perhaps when Ex and OW finally go there separate ways it will make it easier for my DD? Despite what he is like I have never objected to them having a relationship with him. I even tried to encourage it on advice from others. They have made their own choices on it.
I should add I dont even know where Ex lives never mind his relationship status!

Elizabeththefirst Fri 27-Dec-13 20:42:28

You clearly care an awful lot about your dd.

We can only speculate on what she's thinking. You need to attempt to create a dialogue with her about what's going on in her head. Be prepared for the journey to be difficult , but if you keep trying you'll get there in the end.

SpringyReframed Sat 28-Dec-13 09:02:49

Yes, I do. I care a lot about all 3 of them. Reading all the replies, has helped me the clarify my thoughts on DD.

We had a very good relationship up until her father left. Her first reaction was a very supportive one, but over time she has withdrawn more and more which is understandable in terms of the distance apart we live and also her age to some extent. I have also been fully aware of how much worse the OW situation is for her than me right from the second I found out.

This has all now escalated to almost outright hostility towards her immediate family and unbelievably rude and antisocial behaviour at times which showed up over Christmas. When she arrived she actually did not want to look me in the eye! Why on earth would that be? I mentioned this in the row, and she did not comment on it. I have no idea why she feels the need to behave towards us like this or why it has got worse. It wouldnt have been acceptable behaviour to me when she was 4 never mind now. We spent Christmas at her place last year and had a lovely time. She has always been the "bossy" one of the family but it would have been treated with humour rather despair, and just a trait we would point out and giggle about. Similarly her youngest DB likes to be organised and not late for things and again we would tease him about it.

I will try and talk to her but because she is withdrawn I cant imagine I will get very far. I might gently suggest we might have the Spa weekend this year for my birthday and see what she says.

SoloXantiaClaws Sat 28-Dec-13 15:57:37

I hope things are sorted between you Springy, I hate family rifts.

dozeydoris Sat 28-Dec-13 17:07:49

I have no idea why she feels the need to behave towards us like this or why it has got worse

Possibly she has no idea either.

The fact that she avoids your eye suggests she knows her behaviour is wrong.

Maybe she feels left out f the family now, maybe your DM's death has had a major effect on her and being abroad means she is distanced from dealing with it. Who knows.

As long as you are kind and dependable towards her you are doing your best. But don't jump when she is demanding, let her see you have your own life.

RandomMess Sat 28-Dec-13 17:19:16

Maybe she is just very very very angry at both her parents for how much she is hurting and you are the one it is getting it all projected onto because you are the one around?

It took me many years to forgive my parents for failing to protect me and not giving me the emotional support I needed. They can't see/won't accept that they failed me which has made it very difficult for me to have a relationship with them from my late 20s.

Lavenderhoney Sat 28-Dec-13 17:27:57

I think she sounds quite unhappy, tbh. You don't really know how her life is abroad, why she doesn't have a boyfriend, if she really does have lovely friends, if work is still great etc.., she could be feeling all sorts of emotions and not know how to handle it.

Her bad temper could be stress and not wanting to tell you because she is angry at everything, and feels she can't for some reason. Not anything you have done, but perhaps doesn't want to disappoint you or upset you. Speculation of course!

I think you all did the right thing by pulling her up, and sticking up for your other dc. Because she left so quickly says she couldn't cope with a chat about life. Its not you! I was like this myself to some extent when a lot younger, early 20s perhaps, but without the background your dd has had.

She is lucky you care so much. Could you keep gently offering an olive branch wrt you visiting but for an event or something, so its not a summit meeting? And tell her you just want to have a good time and not question her/ advise her etc? Tell her you can only make it for 2 hours, so she doesn't feel trapped into anything.

Does she get on with her siblings? Do they seek each other out without you?

SpringyReframed Sat 28-Dec-13 20:08:37

I got a text from her! Just to say she got back ok although later than she hoped. I just texted back saying glad she was safe, and a little funny comment about her grandad. No reply to that but its enough for me.

All these ideas are really helpful and thought provoking. Thanks everyone.

She has always been fiercely independent ,even from a toddler and doesnt like to admit problems or give up on anything even when it is clear she needs to. She has also been very ambitous so far and I am surprised she hasnt moved on to a new job in the past year or so so you may have hit some nails on the head. I am confident she does have lovely friends though who I have met, and lots of her old UK ones visit her. I cant imagine she confides in many though. It is just not her.

She has always been bossy with her brothers. They dont hear from her just like me these days and say she often does not reply to their messages. When her brother got glandular fever she wanted him to come and stay with her to convalesce so that is good isnt it? Writing this has made me realise if there is anything "practical" to be done, she is there for you.

Anyoneforacheckup Sat 28-Dec-13 20:10:48

Random, how did they fail you

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