Letting go of adult daughter(44 Posts)
My daughter is 38 years old and single. She's also funny , very hardworking and is independent. She's been living on the other side of the world for nearly a year now ( think somewhere near Australia ) and has just got another year - long contract ( possibly 2 years , maybe more ).
She has let her house whilst she is away through letting agents. This means we don't have to travel to check on it .... it's a 2/3 hour drive away .
Since she's been gone we've had one Skype session ... instigated by me. She's said it's too difficult to Skype due to wifi / internet connections! We've had a handful of telephone calls.... usually about issues with the house or other things she wants us to do for her.
I send text messages every few days ... just a few chatty lines ,asking how things are etc. I always try to send them when I know she's not at work ( 8 hour difference ). Her replies are often evasive or very short e.g. " That's cool "
All her post is redirected to us , apart from important stuff which she does online.
I haven't heard from her now for over a week but am sitting on my hands and not texting because I am beginning to feel that she sees me as a nuisance .
On the other hand I am starting to feel angry that she only contacts me and her father when she wants help .... with the house , proofreading documents etc. ..... or occasionally to have a good moan about work.
I am losing sleep about all of this . My DH just says to let it go over my head. He seems almost pleased that I don't hear from her any more . I don't know what to think about it all but it is breaking my heart.
Thing is the more you chase the more they run
Stop chasing and she'll come back to you -
Hard but keep sitting in those hands
4seasons, nothing you do or say will be right. Not here, and not in real life either. Its a damned if you do, and damned if you don't situation to be in.
I think I would make one last attempt at contact for now whilst saying "Ive realised I hardly ever hear back from you so Im going to ease up on the texts etc safe in the knowledge you'll be in touch when you need something". Then I'd just sit back and wait. Not that I think it would be easy but at least you'll soon see how the ground is lying and you'll be able to see where you take things from there.
Re the things you help her with - she has a letting agent looking after the house and as someone who's dad looks after her house Im not sure just how much there is for you to do with a letting agent involved.
Proofreading documents - why do you need to do that for her?
It is interesting though that your husband seems almost pleased you don't hear from her much anymore (in a way you would like) and Im wondering if your relationship has been very intense and he's glad its cooled off a bit. Or if she's perhaps needed a lot of support in life and he's glad you've both got time off from that now so to speak?
I'm an adult living in another country from my parents and I would feel claustrophobic if they contacted me every few days. I certainly wouldn't share any private details about my finances etc with them nor would I involve them in those personal arrangements if at all avoidable. That's part of being a capable adult.
I don't think you should guilt trip your daughter into responding to you. It won't develop a closer relationship. Instead be proud she is able to take care of herself and be so independent.
Have you thought about ways to redirect your mind and thoughts onto something or someone else?
I agree that the texting every few days is far too much. I exchange texts with my adult children with two or three weeks inbetween. Usually they are just practical things with the occasional ‘how are things’.
Maybe you could try to analyse why you feel the need to be in constant contact. Also think about how, it would be much nicer, if she could look forward to your texts, instead of dreading them. I know from talking to my DiLs, how much they feel drained by the constant need for contact from their own mums.
Fionne is right. Her text is spot on. At 38 she’s wanting to have less parenting. It’s hard, it’s hurtful but you need to focus on enjoying your life with your husband without her being in the picture so much. Rest assured she’ll come back when she needs something. It means you’ve done a good job of raising her to live as an independent adult.
I don't live abroad but I live a number of hours away from my parents. Life just gets in the way- I speak to my parents periodically and text weekly/ fortnightly but sometimes it's a bit longer.
I just think that when you don't live near to family there is less to say.
Do you think there is a reason that she has little contact with you? Were you close before? I lived abroad for a while and I would speak to my mum every few days and missed her terribly. However we have always been close.
I have a teenage daughter and as hard as I try, she and I are not really close. I think if she went to live away she would not contact me regularly. But I think that's because that's just the way she is and wouldn't feel the need to speak to me regularly. I think it would upset me though and I totally understand why this is heart breaking for you.
I live three hours from my parents and I ring them once a week.
Ugh, poor you. I'm very close to my mum, and have always stayed in regular contact, whether I've been traveling or living some distance away. I don't think texts every couple of days is too much either! If you were calling or skyping every day, maybe, but it doesn't sound like you're being demanding or clingy at all.
I don't have any advice I'm afraid, just lots of sympathy.
My mother lives about a 6 hour drive away.. if she text me every few days it would drive me insane and I'm 10 years younger than your daughter.
We can go a few weeks without talking and then we might exchange a few messages on Facebook about what we've been up to. I probably see her about 4 times a year. It is fine for us and I don't feel any less close to her.
I'd just let her come to you and she'll probably want to tell you stuff and feel she has something to tell you. You don't need to know what she's doing or how she is every few days.
I don't think a text every few days is much contact at all. I'm the same age as your daughter. Is there any reason she would want to keep contact with you to a minimum? Does she speak to her father, siblings or friends over here more regularly or is she trying to break all ties with her old life?
Everyone's expectations are different on here as to what's the desirable amount of contact. I lived in Australia in my 30s and I contacted my parents every few days by text and skyped once a week. Now I live a couple of hours drive away from them and we have regular what's app chats etc. I can't imagine only contacting them every two to three weeks for practical things like a PP said! But I understand that's what suits some people. What I do think though is that when you are so far away, it's harder to "chit chat" partly because of the time difference and partly because things you might chat about might not be relevant to the other person. It's tricky (sorry - not a very helpful post) but I think it is harder to stay in close contact.
OP, from an adult child's perspective who doesn't live close to their mum anymore...
We have a very great relationship and she's my rock but I don't speak to her once every few days. If she did contact me that much I would also reply in the same way as your daughter does to you. We chat on Facebook probably about once every three weeks and on the odd occasion a phone call which is plenty.
On the other hand, DP's mum is always texting and ringing him (probably daily) and quite honestly it drives them further apart as she won't leave him alone and causes resentment between them.
I would back off and let her come to you. You may find she contacts you more.
I find it interesting how people view a call or text from a parent.
Why is a simple text every few days a pain ? They take seconds to read and reply. It's lovely to think someone is thinking about you and cares for you.
I can understand if you were bombarded daily or many phone calls.
But a weekly catch up for 10 minutes on the phone can't be that awful surly ?
Why look at it negatively. Why do you not want to know they're ok or what's been happening in their world.
Unless you're being harassed or abused why do these small interactions have to be negative ?
Thank you for all the advice. I think the reason it is so hard at the moment is that in the past she has needed lots of support. We've given lots of financial , practical ( her dad has done loads of work on her house ) and emotional support . At one point she was ringing me several times a day because of problems at work.
Another time I supported her when she had her heart broken by a man she loved. Whilst she was seeing him she was pretty vile to me .... and I had no idea why ! As soon as they broke up the floodgates opened and she needed me again.
I suppose I feel that we are needed when things aren't going well but are ignored when they are ! So , in trying to understand why the contact has " cooled" I think " well , at least things must be ok !" IYSWIM..
We certainly don't expect to know about her financial dealings or her private life. We have a good life of our own here in the U.K. She has always slightly irritated her dad as he can be a bit of a " know it all " and she sees him as controlling. I know he has felt hurt in the past by her attitude and have explained that to her.
I definitely think it is as one poster said ... damned if I do and damned if I don't !!! If I don't stay in contact I am viewed as not being interested and supportive but if I do contact her I expect I am viewed as nosy / irritating !!!
So , based on your advice I decided to continue to sit on my hands. I have just had a text asking me if I had died !!! I sent one back saying I had just been busy. Immediately I got the response ... " Doing what ??" I have sent a one line answer in response.
The other thing that I've noticed is that she's turned off the " blue tick " in Wattsap so that I don't know if she's read my texts. It sounds pathetic but I have now done the same ! This is so hard but I need to put some distance between us don't I or it will make me so unhappy.
Ok .... big girl pants on .... no texts etc. until I hear from her first !!
Dancingoat, we’re a familiy who all live within minutes of each other and who’s daily lives are intertwined so I understand what you’re saying but the Op’s Daughter doesn’t need what her mum wants out of the relationship and as difficult as it is to understand, others here do understand it.
op, we cross posted but I just wanted to acknowledge your last post. Good luck in finding a way forward that eases the pain of missing your girl.
@Dancinggoat because everyone is individual and therefore, every relationship between parent and child is different. Whereas you may view it like that others don't.
Personally, both myself and my Mum feel there can be a loving relationship between parent and child without having to live in each other's pockets. Others have a need for more frequent contact. However, OP's daughter is clearly not one of them and as such, putting pressure on her to do so will only drive her away.
I’m a similar age to your daughter and I have to disagree with previous posters, exchanging texts every few days or more often is normal for me and my mother and for my brother and mum too. My husband calls his parents about once a week.
So take joy in the fact there isn’t contact - things are going well
If you want to send a message letting your dd know what’s happening in your life - then go right ahead, but don’t ask any questions so there is no need to reply.
Parents are there to support and if you’ve been used to that it must seem strange not being needed atm
Don’t play games on whatsapp
Turn it back on so your dd knows when you have read the message
Your a mum, please don’t do that 😪
I totally understand how you feel. I would much rather be a parent to young children and teenagers than adult children! I think it is really hard to step back and relinquish active parenting as you never stop worrying about them however old they are.
I always lived 4 hours away from my parents as an adult, rang once a week without exception and visited 3 or 4 times a year. I personally didn’t feel that was too excessive. However that was before texting was invented!
Everyone is different though. My eldest lives overseas, with an 8 hour time difference, he feels no need to be in constant contact and therefore I might FaceTime about every 3 weeks, he is not on Facebook and not a great tester.
Middle son lives overseas with a 5 hour time difference, frequent texting and FaceTime once a week at his instigation.
Youngest child lives down the road, several weeks can go by without seeing him and we have texts maybe once a week of the variety “cool”,
“yes, all ok” “ can you take a hem up for me”.
It is hard to let go, but something we have to do.
The blue tick is irrelevant really - if DD is too busy to read the messages then so is OP !
Years ago you wouldn't have know if someone had opened a letter - or received a letter - I think these thing taunt us!
Stating the obvious a bit here but it would seem that there is just a mismatch in what each of you needs/wants. The fact that she has noticed and obviously missed that you have not contacted her would indicate that she does want contact from you but maybe isn’t good at returning it. I would carry on doing what you feel comfortable with and be there for her if she needs you.
Lastly are you sure it’s all going well for her? You mentioned she thinks your husband is a ‘know it all’, if she’s struggling is she scared to admit it and her need for your support? Living abroad can be tough, especially if you are a long long way away.
I have been your dd and she is finding herself, she is out there living her life and doing what you hoped for... making her dreams happen.
As her mother you are there to pick up the pieces it is what we all do day in and day out.
Want to share her happy times? Get on a plane and share them with her.
You can be part of the happy times too.
All dc go through patches of dependence/independence the way you describe it feels a little like you expect gratitude or some payback. Deep down ask yourself if this is true? Do you resent her for being happy? Just a little. You see she doesn’t owe you anything, she is her very own person and needs to breathe and to fly, let her do this without guilt.
Work on what you want for the next ten years, look for your own ambitions, make your own adventure stories.
You and dh have raised an independent, capable person. Be proud of her, be pleased for her. It will kill me when my dd leave me, but I am braced to take the pain in exchange for an adult child that charges into this world and makes the most of their life. Chained to me miserable and needy would kill me more.
Book the flight and tell her you expect cocktails in Sydney and a hug.
It must be hard for you. Just send her a happy text every week to let her know you are thinking of her. Make it a text that doesn’t need a reply, but be pleased if you get one, even if it’s just ‘ok’.
I dread to think how my own mum would cope if I lived abroad. I live 40 minutes away and see her once a fortnight. But she texts me every couple of days, usually some rubbish about the weather, if I don’t reply the same day, she makes an excuse to ring me. It’s annoying sometimes as I lead a busy life and don’t always have time for long texts. But I do try because I know it keeps her happy. When she needs you, you will hear from her.
Fionne..... it IS actual pain isn't it ? I am sitting here at the moment feeling very sorry for myself , holding back the tears but giving myself a real talking to !! Have realised that because I had a terrible relationship with my own mother I had hoped ours would be different. It has been .... but she's not a little girl any more and doesn't need me . My job is done !!! But I feel bereft and need to pull myself together and get on with my own life. I have a lot to be grateful for .
Right ! Onwards and upwards. It's a lovely day here.... a nice brunch , a walk and then a rugby match to look forward to.
By the way ... I've turned the blue ticks back on ... it was childish .
I live several hours away from my parents. We speak every 5-7 days and I exchange texts with my mum in between. Texts are usually updates or comments on what we're doing, watching, buying etc. - so not questions requiring an answer. I think that makes a difference and I would find 'how are you', 'what have you been up to' texts annoying. Light and jokey works for us.
She has always slightly irritated her dad as he can be a bit of a " know it all " and she sees him as controlling. I know he has felt hurt in the past by her attitude and have explained that to her
Controlling is quite a strong word, what does she think is controlling about him?
I am distant from my mother because of my controlling father who she is still married to, it's a big barrier between us.
I wouldn't take kindly to being criticized for hurting him by my mother!
Is this why she is less close to you?
I'm going against the grain here but I text my adult daughter about once a week just to ask her how she is and give her any tidbits of information I might have. She always replies to say everything is ok and sometimes I wonder if she'd rather I didn't text, however I'm not intrusive and it's just to let her know I love her and think of her. I know she would always contact me if there was anything major going on in her life. All I'm doing is keeping the lines of communication open. It's all too easy to drift apart.
Someone suggested that I might be jealous that she is happy .... I was horrified that I might have given this impression as nothing could be further from the truth . I love hearing her news about her outings with friends , travelling around where she is living and tales about work. She's sent me photos of places she's seen , her flat and even of her newly attached false eyelashes !!!
When I used the word " controlling " about her dad I think it was misconstrued... or maybe I used the wrong word. He would do anything for her and maybe that's the problem. In the past she has asked him to do various jobs in her house and he has seen other things that needed doing and just got on with it. As it is an old house some of the doors needed planing as they were sticking ... so he just did it for her as she doesn't have any tools ( well , the odd screwdriver !) . She said thanks to him but then complained to me that she hadn't asked him to do it ! I get it in the neck if he does anything she doesn't like..... not him !! He's the same.... if she irritates him he will vent to me ! So , " controlling " is probably a bad use of a word . Also , as she is single and never lived with a partner she often doesn't understand the give and take a marriage takes .
Anyway , I have managed to stay off my phone today and intend to wean myself off texting . My DH and I have had a lovely day today and laughed ourselves sick over something quite stupid this afternoon! I made the effort not to mention her and in a way this has helped. I just need to keep it up !
Just as an addendum.... I received two forwarded e mails tonight between her and the letting agent. Apparently new tenants are moving in and I am to be "kept in the loop " by the agent. She had told the agent that I shall be going down to inspect the house when the old tenants move out. Nice to know we have our uses. She isn't going to like my DH's response ..... we can't drive down on the date she specified as we will be out with friends , something arranged months ago. This will not go down well I suspect .
4seasons, yes it is an actual pain and one I’ve felt acutely at times even when my children have moved out of the house after getting married. They’d go off abroad to study for a few years then come back and before we knew it they were getting married and moving out. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that its wrong to feel pain when a child, regardless of their age, goes off to follow their path in life. It’s not. But what is wrong is us hampering things for them because we miss them. Somehow we have to strike the balance between encouraging them and not letting them go off thinking they don’t care that I’m away - even when they sometimes make us think, jeez they don’t seem to give us a thought.
It’s hard. I know.
4seasons, I just read your last post.
I’m glad you laughed yourselves sick.
And I’m glad you have to tell your daughter you have other plans on the day her tenants move - but not for any bad reason. Sometimes you just have to say to people regardless of who they are - check with me first.
i think i am in the minority here. my daughter is just 21 and in her final year of uni though intends to get a job in her uni town and move in with her boyfriend we send quite a few watts app messages daily and speak about three to four times a week and i still feel the pinch sometimes!!
it does seem to work for us though
My lovely eldest is also living a long way from home, and it is hard, but I have a really novel suggestion for you, if she lives somewhere where thIs could work.....
Write her letters, just stuff you have been doing, people you’ve seen, a little bit of gossip, a bit about spring on its way, and post it, with love and no expectation of an instant reply.
@CrazyDaisy you know very well what you need to do to mend your relationship with your daughter and why it is so different to your relationship with your son.
"Appears to be gay...just want a "normal" daughter".
The clues are all there.
I know this is an old thread but I'd be interested to see how things are OP.
Hopefully better? You sound like a really lovely mum btw.
Wow @CrazyDaizy that is one of the worst things I've ever read on Mumsnet.. no wonder your daughter distances herself.
Yeah I can see that now, I wish there was a way of editing it as it sounds awful, I've asked the moderators and they won't change it!!
I think it's the disparity between when she needs you and when she doesn't.
There doesn't seem to be a middle ground.
My daughter is the same. When she needs something she expects an immediate answer and immediate help. When life is great for her, she ignores me for days on end.
I've learned to respond to her needs. So I answer as she needs me to and I don't bother her when she doesn't need me
If I'm honest it hurts me a lot. But it is what it is. We can't change people, expectations are futile. Acceptance is the only way imo
As an adult you sound smothering. Give your daughter room to live her life. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you if she doesn’t call every other day. I love my mum to death but can sometimes go a couple of weeks between chats
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