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Difficult relationship with my middle daughter - any advice?

(25 Posts)
Grannyof6 Tue 27-Sep-11 16:33:14

Hello, I am a new poster but have lurked for a long time and have seen the good advice given. I wonder if you can help me with my relationship with my middle daughter? She was a kind a loving little girl - the most affectionate of all my children, but when she became a teenager that changed and she became very moody, withdrawn and seemed to hate me. I'd been through similar with my older daughter but that passed in a few years, however, my middle daughter - lert's call her D - seemed to hate me more and more as she grew up.

We did and still do have incredibly loving moments but she can vent rages on me when I don't agree with her and I feel she tolerates me at best. Looking back, I can see that she may have been depressed as a teen (she is currently on a low dose of A/Ds), but I was always so proud of her and never compared her to her sister or her brother. She is extremely talented (though not the most academic of my children), and despite being expelled from school as a teen went on to get fine A-level and degree results. She fell pregnant soon after University having fallen in with a crowd who took a lot of drugs. Needless to say, the father left and she had to cope alone. I helped her as much as I could with childcare and food shopping and bits of cash.

She has now made a success of her life - she has a fantastic job; a loving husband; and has brought up her daughter brilliantly. I'm so proud of her and admire how she succeeded despite everything. Why does she hate me? And what can I do to heal things? She is 38 by the way.

forgetmenots Tue 27-Sep-11 16:39:35

Have you shared this with her? it sounds like she is making you feel things but that you haven't sat down together and had a chat about it - perhaps she struggles with anger and doesn't realise she is venting her rage on you? She doesn't seem to have said that she hates you or tolerates you, could this be a breakdown in communication? hope it works out between you x

gaaagh Tue 27-Sep-11 16:59:13

"Why does she hate me?"

You seem to speak about the situation clearly, but I wonder if you've ever been this open and honest with your daughter, in a constructive way (not laying on a guilt trip or making up excuses for for yourself if she's feeling hard done by)....?

Perhaps the best thing to do would be to actively make a point of doing more listening to your daughter - even at the most horrid of times such as when we're arguing if only people would take a step back and ask themselves "What are they really trying to tell me here?" it would help. Or is your relationship the kind of cool, distant one where you don't get to the flash point of arguments? More information would help, but I just wanted to echo the poster above me who said that communication is key here.

Grannyof6 Tue 27-Sep-11 17:00:16

Than you for responding. Well we do talk about day to day things but I am so busy these days - i have 6 grandchildren and I work. I know she blames me for past things, but won't accept that I did the best I could.

When she was growing up she had a very difficult relationship with her father - I'll admit that he was somewhat of a tyrant and hit the children occassionally, but he was an excellent provider and loves them with all his heart. It's stange but now she is so much closer to him than me - I suppose it's because they're so similar.

Grannyof6 Tue 27-Sep-11 17:21:17

We would have the opportunity to talk more, but she comes home as little as possible. I have to practically beg her to come home at Christmas.

forgetmenots Tue 27-Sep-11 18:20:46

This sounds a bit strange grannyof6 - does she keep in touch more with her father? Would it make a difference if you both asked to speak to her?

I have to be completely honest and say, I had an instinctive shudder when you said 'he was somewhat of a tyrant and hit the children occasionally' - do you mean smacking, or hitting? If there was violence in the house at all that may be something she finds difficult (even if she is outwardly close with her father).

It's perhaps some of the 'past things' you mention that you need to discuss - sounds like neither of you have said 'out loud' how you feel about a lot of things and maybe as the other poster said there needs to be a bit of talking and listening without judgement, if you think you could both do that. The fact that you are in touch, even about day to day things, shows that there's a desire to make it work. You are both obviously busy people, she with her DD and DH/work, you with GC and work, but this is very important and it may be you need to set some specific time aside. good luck x

ColdToast Tue 27-Sep-11 21:27:59

I've re-read your OP a couple of times because at first I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was that left me feeling a little uneasy. Then it jumped out at me. Whenever you list her good points there is always a "but" or a "despite" in there to detract from it:

She was a kind and loving little girl but became a moody teenager.

You have incredibly loving moments but she can vent rages.

She is extremely talented but not the most academic of your children.

She got good results despite being expelled from school.

It reads as though no matter what D does, you feel compelled to add something negative. I can't help wondering whether this viewpoint is seeping into your relationship with her.

Conversely, when it comes to your own personal 'failings' eg allowing her father to hit her, you are not happy that she doesn't view it as you having done the best you could. If she has picked up on this too then it may go some way in explaining why you don't have a close relationship.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Tue 27-Sep-11 21:44:08

"^difficult relationship with her father - I'll admit that he was somewhat of a tyrant and hit the children occassionally, but he was an excellent provider and loves them with all his heart.^"

So: your husband was controlling and hit your daughter; he was a "tyrant". But you dismiss the thought of how deeply hurtful this must have been for her at the time, and how much longterm damage and hurt this may have caused her, by saying that he only hit the children "occasionally", and was "an excellent provider".

From the information in your posts, I would guess that your daughter is very angry at you for being a passive, enabling parent who let her be emotionally and physically abused by her father, who stood by and made excuses at the time, and who now continues to make the same excuses.

If this is the case, I'm not surprised to hear that she has been depressed since she was a teen, and went into a patch of self-destruction after leaving home. Understandable for someone who has felt abandoned by her parents.

Do her rages when you disagree with her ever concern discussions of her father, or her childhood?

Are you able to ask her why she is angry with you, able to listen to her express her feelings, and able to acknowledge that she is entitled to feel the way she feels, whether or not you agree with her?

gaaagh Tue 27-Sep-11 22:21:42

able to acknowledge that she is entitled to feel the way she feels, whether or not you agree with her?

That's a really key point I think. OP describes her husband's bad points (quite severe ones) and excuses them with weak defenses (good provider? i don't mean to be harsh but a loving father in a stable family has his daughter's affection whether she has a roof over her head or not - an abusive father who "provides" may not). Maybe this has crept into the relationship between OP and her DD, if she feels unable to voice her views on the upbringing... because no one will validate her experiences - it's just excuses and waves of the hand which belittle her viewpoint on it all. i.e. "don't be so silly, I did my best, your father was a good one when judged by traditional standards", etc. Not that the OP has said this, but i'm just pondering it all, really.

Grannyof6 Wed 28-Sep-11 11:59:29

Thank you. This makes hard reading. Yes her father was awful at the time, but inb those days it was different. And where I grew up (in another country), our fathers beat us and gambled the money away, so compared to that my daughter had a wonderful childhood with skiing holidays and tennis lessons.

I don't mean to detract from her good points, but it has been so hard over the years. i don't think any othoer mother would have put up with what i have. And yes I know she is still angry with me for the past but I don't see why she can't let it go. She seems so ungrateful.

steamedtreaclesponge Wed 28-Sep-11 12:08:16

The thing is, Granny, you're still denying that it was that bad for her - 'in those days it was different', comparing it to your childhood. Skiing holidays don't make up for having to live with a father who hit you and a mother who let him.

ColdToast Wed 28-Sep-11 12:19:06

I'm a similar age to your daughter and it absolutely was not normal back then for a father to be a "tyrant". Don't try to normalise your ex's behaviour in this way.

I'm sorry but the undercurrent of your posts is still very much "but what about meeee?" You're seeking sympathy for everything you've been through yet brush aside and dismiss everything your daughter has been through. If complete strangers can pick up on that, you can be sure that your daughter does too.

Grannyof6 Wed 28-Sep-11 12:22:11

I will take those points on board, thank you.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Wed 28-Sep-11 13:17:40

Your last post is very gracious, Granny. I understand that this is hard reading, so well done for being willing to listen.

You asked "What can I do to heal this?" in your OP. I believe that you have a chance at healing things with your daughter if you do a lot more of your 12:22 post with her, and a lot less of your 11:59 post.

Good luck.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Wed 28-Sep-11 13:21:36

(btw, your own childhood experience is not to be dismissed: you too are undoubtedly carrying much hurt from your own upbringing. I hope you have a sympathetic person to talk to about it, if that can help you.

Your daughter is not the one you should be having that conversation with, though, as that inverts the parent-child relationship.)

ByThePowerOfGreyskull Wed 28-Sep-11 13:26:41

Hi there,
one of the things I wish my Mum would accept, which is something I have accepted is that I know she did her best, she knows she does her best, I however feel comfortable recognising that sometimes our best isn't good enough.
It doesn't change things for anyone as you can't change the past, but it certainly acknowledges that for your daughter (if not for you) things didnt feel great.

This is a very personal response because it is the conversation I want to have with my Mum, it isn't necessarily directly relevant to your DD

SouthernandCross Wed 28-Sep-11 13:36:56

" I know she blames me for past things, but won't accept that I did the best I could."
This spoke to me as it's one of the reasons I no longer speak to my mother. I am now 40 and cut off contact with her 2 years ago.
I have multiple issues with the way my mother treated me as a child and in the not-so-distant past, but when I've bought them to the table this is what she says to me. 'I did the best I could', 'You made me do it', ' I didn't know what else to do'.
I want to to accept what she's done wrong, not blame it on me and her circumstances but take responsibility for the things she's done. But she won't and thinks I should just forget the things she did to me.
It might be worth while you talking to someone to see if you can possibly understand things from your DD's point of view?

cory Wed 28-Sep-11 15:28:11

The only way you will only get her to forgive you is if you do not constantly excuse yourself. She is quite likely damaged by what happened to her, she needs that validated. She needs you to say "what happened to you was wrong and I wish I could go back in time and do things differently". As another poster said, making it about her and not about you.

At the moment everything you say implies that her feelings are wrong and that she has no right to be damaged. This won't help her to move forward and until she has moved forward she won't be in a position to forgive you. Think about it as if she had lost an arm because you took your eyes off her when she was little: would you be saying "it seems so ungrateful of her still to be without that arm so many years later"?

My dd has mobility problems, partly (we believe) exacerbated by wrong decisions taken by me as a parent when she was little. There were all sorts of excuses for me acting as I did and it hurts me terribly to see it. But the truth is that she is the one who has to live with it; telling her that it wasn't really my fault won't ease the pain for her. The only positive thing I can do for her now is to acknowledge that the pain is there, that I wish it wasn't and that she doesn't have to feel guilty about it. But that is not a small thing; in the long run it may make all the difference to how she deals with it.

It may be a good idea for you to get some counselling to deal with what happened to you as a child, but as ItsMe says this is not something you can talk to your dd about: you are her mum so can't lay the problems of your childhood on her.

Grannyof6 Wed 28-Sep-11 18:23:46

I'm so sorry to hear that Cory. I once shut my daughter's finger in the door when I was concentrating on the older one in front. I still feel terribly guilty about that - although it doesn't look too bad, she still calls it Ugly Finger and it pains me.

We all do our best; God Bless.

meltedchocolate Wed 28-Sep-11 18:48:58

Many times there I wondered whether you were my mother but had changed a few details. I have decided you aren't actually. I struggle with my mother because it seemed as a teen no matter what I did it was never good enough. My dad was and is controlling and though he provides and loves he dominates and wants all his way. I love him because I am very much like him and except all that he is a good guy, but I also hate him for all that. I love my mum also but hate her for allowing it all to continue and allowing dad to treat her in a controlling way. I dont live away yet but as soon as I do get to go I wont want to come back often. I think your daughter may feel the same way. Sorry.

Grannyof6 Wed 28-Sep-11 19:06:27

I think she does too. Sorry for your pain 'melted chocolate'. I'll try to be more receptive to my daughter in futuer and I hope your mother does the same.

It's funny, but I never thought about parallels with my own parents; I suppose you're blind to the obvious when you're close to it. I always dismissed my mother as an old fool, stuck in the confinements of patriarchy. I always resented her for not trying harder. Maybe I need to try harder. That said, I shan't force her - I know she knows that I'm proud of her and I love her. Some things are too difficult to acknowledge.

tigermoll Wed 28-Sep-11 19:53:07

I am moved to contribute as well, since some of the things you are saying really strike a chord with me re. my own mother.

She always says 'I did my best' or 'You expect everyone to be perfect' or 'What's the point of going over and over things? You have to move on' as a way to avoid talking about painful things that happened in the past. I understand that for her, it makes her feel guilty to think of the mistakes she made, especially as she was 'only doing her best'. But her refusal to discuss, acknowledge or apologise honestly and without self-pity fills me with rage towards her.

She also says 'I don't want to force you to talk to me' as a way of excusing herself from making any effort towards establishing genuine, honest conversation with her children. 'Why would anyone want to talk about sad things?' she will say when pushed. What she means is 'I don't want to deal in real emotions. Let's pretend everything is fine.' 'You know you can always talk to me' she says, even though we both know I can't.

If you want to talk to your daughter, you must make repeated, active attempts. She will probably rebuff the first few. Don't just think 'Well, I did my best' and give up.

ByThePowerOfGreyskull Wed 28-Sep-11 19:55:09

Just in case you are my mother in disguise, I want to point out that rifling through other peoples things is inappropriate behaviour.

Grannyof6 Wed 28-Sep-11 20:02:04

I never rifled through anything. What do you mean? Honestly?

If you're talking of my knowledge of the ADs - she speaks openly to me about that, as we all suspect her father has undiagnosed mental health problems. He always refused to seek help as it was always everyone else who was wrong. To add, I did fund my daughter through a series of therapy - she didn't like it though.

Thanks to all, good night and God bless.

ByThePowerOfGreyskull Wed 28-Sep-11 20:16:28

Mum was rifling through a handbag this weekend at a family event, when asked if it was her bag, she said no, then continued, when it was pointed out she shouldn't be doing that, she said she was just looking, and carried on!

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