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Need a younger person's perspective on this

(50 Posts)
Dressingdown1 Fri 02-Aug-13 09:41:04

A bit of background DH and I have 3 DC, all grown up, we did have 4 but oldest died a few years ago, I mention that because it obviously affects family dynamics and makes us aware that our DC are very precious.

The 2 oldest remaining DC stay in close touch, but DD2 (mid twenties) is sometimes more emotionally distant. She lives about an hour and a half away from us. She has a very busy job with long hours and a fair amount of foreign travel, but also has a lot of time off. Normally we keep in touch via e mails and texts and brief phone calls, unless she has a problem, when we have more contact. We see her about once a month on average; if we go to her we always provide food or take her out for a meal as we know she's very busy.

DH and I are involved in a couple of family businesses but only on a part time basis, so we are quite flexible about seeing everyone. We have a lovely life with lots of travel, entertaining and a wide social circle, so not too needy when it comes to DC, given our family history (we hope)

The current issue is that we need to go and see DD2 in the next week or so, almost any day will do from our point of view. This is a business matter which will benefit the whole family and also specifically benefit her in a small way. This was agreed a few weeks ago but we need to tie up some loose ends. She is on holiday from work at the moment.

I texted her about 4 days ago to ask when would be a good time to visit - no answer. I called on her mobile yesterday - no answer. Normally if she sees she's missed a call she will ring back, but no response so far. I could e mail but normally don't get an answer if she's not at work.

I know she is very involved in her hobbies which she normally doesn't get a lot of time to pursue, so I cut her a lot of slack and never moan about lack of contact. I know someone would let us know if anything had happened to her.

What do you think I should do, should I turn into an old nag until I get a sensible reply? Or honestly do you think I should back off and wait for her to contact us? Am I just being a nuisance? I need someone of her sort of age to give me her perspective PLEASE .

Missbopeep Sat 03-Aug-13 16:51:56

As long as I know that she is not being made miserable again by the SO, I don't need or want to know more.

But if she IS being made miserable, it's her choice whether she talks to you about it isn't it. AND if she is being made miserable there is NOTHING you can or should do.

It's not your role to choose her boyfriends. In fact if she is 'normal' any criticism of him will only make her defend her choice - and him.

Why do you want to see her settled? She's only 25. That's pretty young these days to be 'settled', when 50% of young people have only been out of uni for 3-4 years and are finding their feet at work etc.

I can understand completely that you don't want her to be unhappy with a guy who messes her about. But even if she married or settled at 35 she would still not be out of the ordinary- and the average age now for a 1st baby is 31.

I think you have to seriously challenge your expectations and ask if they are the same as hers- or if you are being over protective and this urge to see her settled is your issue.

I get the impression that you keep a beady eye on this guy and are ready to step in if he doesn't pass muster in some way. Doesn't that seem a bit overbearing? Is that your role when she is an adult? And might it be why she seems to not communicate with you as much as you want her to?

Dressingdown1 Sat 03-Aug-13 16:22:50

Yes Missbopeep I think you are right. After I re read my last two posts I came to the same conclusion! Funny how writing it down seems to make it clearer.

If I am totally honest, I do want her to be settled, mostly because I think that is what she really wants. In fact, I don't think this chap is ideal; I just want her to be happy, and they genuinely seem to love each other.

I have been too involved in the relationship in the past, because DD needed to talk about the problems and I was able to give her the support she needed. For reasons I don't want to go into, she can't confide much in her friends.

As long as I know that she is not being made miserable again by the SO, I don't need or want to know more. However, maybe she hasn't really taken that on board and feels that I am being too interfering.

Missbopeep Sat 03-Aug-13 15:32:25

One thing keeps coming across here which unsettles me re. your daughter and you. It appears ( could be wrong) that you have some kind of goal for her re. this chap. You seem to want her 'settled'. Is this really your role?

I remember being 25 and living 300 miles from home. My parents knew very little about my then boyfriends and although they met one of them who I dated from 21-26, there was never any expectation or pressure from them that we'd end up married or whatever.

My DD is the same age as yours. She's been mucked about by a long term boyfriend , it's all over, and we had to lend her money to get out of the house they had, but I have no 'plans' for her to meet anyone else or be settled . It's up to her- she's a grown woman.

If your DD is not being very communicative, do you think she might think you are too involved in her relationships, but quite honestly are none of your business, no matter how much you care for her.

Dressingdown1 Sat 03-Aug-13 14:42:44

I think I should add that we don't often see the SO. Normally DD comes to visit us while he is at work/otherwise engaged. I think we have only met him twice this year, but both times had a long chat with him. Maybe DD feels that if he talks to us we will be reassured that he is serious about making their relationship work.

I should also add that DD is no shrinking violet and is more than capable of standing up for herself and fighting her corner.

Dressingdown1 Sat 03-Aug-13 14:18:46

Mermaid I am glad to hear that things are much better with your Mum, but sorry that your Dad is dead. It's really tough for you, I still mourn my Dad who died just before my first DC was born.

There is definitely tension between me and DD when we first meet up. She is fine with her Dad, but it seems to take her an hour or so before she is ready to chat to me comfortably. Once we are over the initial awkwardness it is all fine and she is friendly and talkative.

I think that part of the problem is that when she was having a lot of grief with her SO, she talked to me for many hours on the phone and told me lots of details which maybe she now regrets. I let her lead when she discusses the relationship now and have always tried to be careful not to criticise the SO even when I felt very angry with him.

I think she is anxious for the relationship with her SO to work, she has made a lot of sacrifices for him and has a great deal invested in the relationship, both emotionally and financially. Interestingly she is happy for us to spend time alone with the SO and she knows for sure that I will give him the 3rd degree be quite forthright with him, in a polite way.

I think she is really busy a lot of the time at work, but possibly not quite as busy as she says. It probably is a convenient excuse sometimes.

hadababygirl Sat 03-Aug-13 13:20:37

I wish you were my Mum! sad

My dad makes a once a month phone call, we never have much to say to one another and he rarely visits. It broke my heart at university seeing other parens visiting, phoning, texting and emailing. I think she is very rude and I am over thirty but only just!

mermaid101 Sat 03-Aug-13 12:24:13

Drressingdown, things are much better with my family now. I'm in my mid thirties and live fairly close to my mother and see her regularly. (And keep in touch with her via texts and phone calls). I know she is much happier with this and I also know that this is the sort of relationship she wanted to have with me in my twenties.

This has been a gradual process. My father is now dead. I got on a lot better with him than I did with my mum. They divorced when I was in my mid twenties and my mum didn't deal with it very well (although she instigated it) This was a complicated situation, but I am happy to elaborate on it, if you feel it would be useful.

How is your daughter when you see her? Can you sense any tension/friction? One thing that jumped out to me from your original post was how busy your daughter appears to be. I have to confess that I used to really exaggerate how taxing/demanding my job was to my mum. Again, I'm not entirely sure why I did. It was almost unconscious. I think it might have been me trying to create a "get out" clause if you like.

Thanks for posting. It's been good for me to sort of examine my own behavior. Happy to answer any other questions.

JustinBsMum Fri 02-Aug-13 22:21:18

I think that the place you have in the family can make a big difference to your life and the age that possible crises occur also affects siblings very differently.
Perhaps being older when a tragedy happens in the family means it affects you less, not that you are less upset by it but that you have fewer years to live with the shadow of it.
It was the eldest whom everyone seemed to think had the hardest time in my childhood family, in fact the poor youngest had it worst imo, probably resulted in them getting much less attention, due to the problem which dominated the family, for the whole of their childhood, not just the later part as was the case for the eldest.
Just saying as I have strong views on this.

Missbopeep Fri 02-Aug-13 15:02:29

I've got that T shirt too of a 20 something DC splitting up and needing some financial support.
But you do need to try to keep your relationship separate from the other things going on in her life.
The problems our kids face over their lives will never go away altogether- which is something I am finding out all the time! But that doesn't mean we have to let them off the hook re. their behaviour towards us.

I hope you find a way through this.

Dressingdown1 Fri 02-Aug-13 14:50:18

Alittlestranger and Missbopeep you are both right, I do feel that DD should by now be in an adult relationship, especially as that seems to be exactly what she herself wants. Also she is being manipulative with the tears. She has always cried easily and it is often effective.

I keep hoping that DD's love life will settle down and that we can establish a more equal parent/daughter relationship. It's been hard for her to have to come to us for loans and emotional support when things went wrong and I think she hates the feeling that she has been partly dependent on us.

Financially her position is now reasonably strong and the partnership with the SO appears to be more solid, fingers crossed, so now could be a good time to try to shift the dynamics of the relationship with us.

Thanks for your advice and understanding.

Missbopeep Fri 02-Aug-13 14:17:41

I do feel for you and I know how it's tempting to give kids some slack when they have so much else going on in their lives.

But she is not a teenager- she's 25 ish?

Have you ever thought that the tears etc are a teensy bit manipulative?
From the outside that's how it seems- and I don't mean she is faking the tears, but she does know they will be successful. Bit of underhand emotional blackmail going on here- and she's savvy enough to know your weak spots too and how you don't want to rock the boat with her.

Maybe follow the rules for being assertive- which are you talk about I when you are trying to explain how you feel, rather than blaming her.

So don't say 'you are a selfish girl who clearly can't be arsed to call us even though you know Im worried,'

But do say' I worry about you when you don't call back. I do admit my mind goes into overdrive, but it would help me if you would just send a quick text.'

If after establishing this, she ignores your efforts then I think you have to follow through with tracking her down at least once- through work or friends- and if it's an embarrassing lesson for her ( when everyone finds out she hasn't returned your calls) then so be it.

ALittleStranger Fri 02-Aug-13 14:10:27

I suspect she knows that I worry about her, probably more than the other DC who are both married to lovely, supportive people.

This really struck a chord with me. When I was with my ex, which had the appearance of being a lasting adult relationship, I remember my mum saying that she was relieved not to have to worry about me anymore as I was with someone so lovely to look after me! Well of course that felt great after we split up, and I was very aware of my mum being "worried" again. It's not a comfortable thing to be on the receiving end of, even if it's not conveyed in a smothering way. It brings with it an odd sense of failure, it's almost like your parent is saying, why aren't you married off like an adult, why am I still your next of kin, someone else should do this shit now? The ironic thing in my case is I take very little from my mother, nothing in practical terms and I don't expect much emotional support. I have a career and friends to deal with money and tears!

Bit of a ramble, but the 20s are an odd time for people now. There is this extended adolscence, especially for people in certain careers and areas. I think people this age are very aware that their lives don't look like their parents' did at their age; and for many reasons this makes us quite smug, but there are other respects where we worry it's failure. And I just think that changes the whole parent-child dynamic.

Plus she could just be hangover and/or shagging someone. Both of those things make me fail to return calls from my mum.

Dressingdown1 Fri 02-Aug-13 14:09:47

Missbopeep She gets really upset and starts crying if we criticise even slightly. We have made so many allowances because of the difficult time she has had these last few years. Her SO is a lovely bloke, but he has a load of baggage and has put her through so much, on top of the bereavement, ( I don't mean that was his fault too.)

DD has a really demanding job, which she loves, and we feel that she has to hold so much together for that, we can't put anything else on her.

I sound as though I'm making too many excuses don't I? Maybe we need to toughen up a bit.

Missbopeep Fri 02-Aug-13 13:55:58

OP- can you have a simple yet open conversation with your DD on this?

I know where you are coming from, so can you possibly just tell her that under the circumstances , you tend to worry a bit too much at times ( she must understand that), and although you don't mean to intrude into her life or be possessive in any way, it's really common courtesy ( maybe soften that a bit) to respond to a call/text on the same day unless there are REALLY pressing reasons why she can't.

It takes what- 20 secs to text a short message. You are not being unreasonable but her behaviour ( and your reluctance to call her to account) is very teenager-ish. You shouldn't need to walk on egg shells or make this into a big deal.

Dressingdown1 Fri 02-Aug-13 13:49:31

Mermaid I think my daughter feels the way you describe. I try not to be smothering, but DD has had a tough time with the family bereavement and relationship problems. I suspect she knows that I worry about her, probably more than the other DC who are both married to lovely, supportive people.

Have things improved for you and your parents now? I would really love to move on to a more adult relationship with DD but sometimes I feel that we are stuck in a time warp with her being a stroppy teenager and me being a totally unreasonable dinosaur iyswim

mermaid101 Fri 02-Aug-13 12:20:22

I was always like this with my parents. It's very hard to explain. I just felt like I wanted that "distance" and to be free from them. (My mother is nowhere near as relaxed and reasonable as you sound though!). I often felt very panicky and smothered when she made attempts to contact me and as a result, often avoided responding to her, similar to your description of your DD's behavior.

One thing which made a difference to me was the "tone" of the text message/voice mail my mother would leave for me. If it was in any way terse, clipped or short, I would tend to put off responding as it would suggest I was in for some sort of "ear bashing" or sulks or general hassle. If It was very clear my mum was not in any sort of bad mood, I would get back to her quickly.

I'm not sure if that makes any sense in terms of your own situation. As I have already said, you don't sound like you are like my mother, but perhaps your daughter might feel this way?

I'm sorry for the loss of your child.

magimedi Fri 02-Aug-13 11:53:41

SO - I assume is Significant Other.

Helpyourself Fri 02-Aug-13 11:52:43

A general point about contact- phones/ signals etc.
postcards! I have a stash of prestamped cards I scrawl a swift 'need to arrange x call ASAP love you lots' they normally arrive the following day.

Missbopeep Fri 02-Aug-13 11:51:48

Or even an SO ? confused

Missbopeep Fri 02-Aug-13 11:51:15

What's an OS - anyone?

cloudskitchen Fri 02-Aug-13 11:50:07

You sound like a lovely mummy x

magimedi Fri 02-Aug-13 11:49:05

My DS (30's) lives in another country & has for 7 years. He always responds to missed calls, emails etc.

He is now married but when he had an SO I would not have expected their number unless they were living together.

Dressingdown1 Fri 02-Aug-13 11:46:27

The off/on relationship was difficult for us because there were a lot of financial implications over their joint property and we had to do some bailing out, both financial and practical. That is all resolved now, the money involved has been paid back and we are just happy that things are (hopefully) on an even keel.

ALittleStranger Fri 02-Aug-13 11:41:45

Is she living with her SO? If not I can see that she would think it inappropriate for you to have his number. I would not want to give my parents a boyfriend's number if we weren't living together, especially if it had been on-off, and especially if I thought there was any risk they'd actually kill him if I didn't respond to texts.

Why as the on-off thing been awkward for you btw?

Presumably you know where she works so it's not like you have no other means of contacting her or someone who knows if she's been turning up etc?

Dressingdown1 Fri 02-Aug-13 11:38:09

Ok I made contact, didn't say much as the signal was bad, but actually she was already on the case, sorting out her part of the deal. I think she was just busy and hadn't got around to contacting me.

I think those posters who say we are enabling her to behave in a slightly rude way are right.We are very aware that parents can be unintenionally annoying so maybe we tend to back off too much instead of asking for more polite behaviour. I also agree that it is very difficult if someone berates you for not getting in touch and so I never complain when we do make contact.

DD2 has been in a bit of an off/on relationship for a couple of years which has been quite awkward for all concerned. When I asked for SO's phone number a while ago DD thought it was inappropriate. Now that things seem to have settled down between them and they are together, I'm going to ask again when I see her, so that I have emergency contact details when she's not at work.

She is a very private person and always has been since early childhood, but I know that she loves her family and needs us to be supportive and in the background cheering her on.

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