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adult dd - please can you help me to approach this with her?

(75 Posts)
theresnowheretohidewithachip Sun 25-May-14 11:34:32

I'm so sorry this is long but I can't seem to make it much shorter.

I tried to be the best mum I could when dd was growing up. I was depressed, got no support and at times was emotionally not there for her. I feel terrible about this but there's nothing I can do now.

dd is in her late 20's and married.

I divorced her father who was abusive, when she went to uni.

She is now in a good career, married and happy thank goodness. She lives about 250 miles away.

In birthday and mothers day cards she writes beautiful messages saying I'm an inspiration and wonderful etc etc. In day to day life she ignores virtually all my texts, emails and rarely phones. I brought this up with her a few months ago and said I wasn't sure what she wanted as it feels as if she doesn't want me in her life because she barely contacts me or replies to my messages etc. She said that wasn't the case at all, and that she does want me in her life and that she is just very busy etc. I said in that case I don't think it's too much to send a text saying 'thanks" if I send one saying have a lovely weekend, holiday etc etc. I have seen her twice over the last year.

Things got a bit better after I approached it with her but have now gone back to how they were again. I sent a chatty email saying I hoped she and her DH had a lovely bank hols, asked how they were etc etc. No reply. Sent a whatsapp message saying enjoy half term whatever you're up to. No reply. I can see from the whatsapp app that she has been on there. She will be in contact if she has health concerns and will text and text for advice, opinions. But she doesn't tell me what she's up to or anything nice.

I was up all night feeling so sad and hurt. I have made mistakes in the past but try so hard to be supportive, acknowledge all her happy times in life and have made little things for her and DH and posted them just because. Maybe I was a far worse parent than I thought. I'm so confused because of the conflicting messages I get from her.

Do I bring this up again. If so how. I love her. I love her DH. I want things to be better but I don't want to guilt trip her or try force her into a relationship she doesn't want with me.

Sorry again, this is so long and thanks for reading.

Lweji Sun 25-May-14 11:55:59

I'd phone her, tbh.

Remember that it is easy to come across as somewhat controlling if you keep asking about what she is up to. I'm sure she doesn't report to her friends.
On the other hand, it's a kind of passive strategy to tell her to have a nice whatever and expect her to get back to you telling you what she is up to.

Most and foremost remember that you are not her friend, but her mother.
Do you share much with her?

WipsGlitter Sun 25-May-14 12:15:19

I think you need to detach with love. I love my mum but I hate talking to her on the phone because she witters on. Do you have friends, work, social life etc? Focus on that.

drinkingtea Sun 25-May-14 12:23:46

I think you are vastly over thinking, and she probably is just busy. You can't magic up a close relationship if its never been that way, and trying too hard when she isn't responding may come across as clingy/ needy/ controlling, all of which are off putting. Maybe she "should" make more time for you, probably... but nagging and pesyering are more likely to push her further away, esp as it is a conversation you've already had...

IWillIfHeWill Sun 25-May-14 12:29:05

I've read your opening post all through.

I would suggest that you write to your daughter. Write a little each day, and post it once a week. Then she has the choice of whether to open it, read it, reply to it, keep it for later or just bin it. You won't know unless she tells you. Real letters are great. Make them pretty and loving.

The second part of the plan is to build up your own life so that you have something to tell her (model what you'd like from her - daily detail, gossip and special events) and so that you are not totally dependent on her for your emotional support. [My daughter will be laughing bitterly when she reads this - I depend on her and she is very supportive!] Just being busy really helps. Clubs, activities, walks, volunteering. Are you working? so tell her about that.

I was a depressed single parent, with undiagnosed Asperger's and probably bipolar, and my poor little baby had to cope with that all on her own. I made some horrendous mistakes, did some vile things, didn't know how to make things right for her in the world, but I always loved her and she knew it. Your daughter obviously knows that about you.

I know from what my daughter tells me that the things I say mean different things to her than for me. I used to phone her from bus-stops, for sympathy when the bus didn't come, but she always felt I was saying "Why don't you get your car out and come for me?" And I know from being a daughter that if my mum ever asked or hinted at something, I would be less likely to do it than before... something about the 'mum' role.... also when i was married, if my husband told me to get up, I'd stay in bed, even if I really wanted to be up and about... I think its just human, pressure makes us less likely to comply.

So, live a life you can enjoy, practice loving yourself, write to your daughter about it - make sure you put in how much she means to you, as she might take your new independent life as a sign that you've forgotten her (they don't always hear what we mean to say...wink) and good luck. Don't be sad. You raised a strong, independent child. Well done.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Sun 25-May-14 12:39:02

Some people just aren't into exchanging chatty texts and emails. When you raised this before DD didn't knock you back. If she didn't value you it would be easy to buy a card sign it and drop it in the post box but she has written about how much she appreciated what you did for her growing up. Now she's married and living away and you can be proud of her but you can't dictate how often she replies or how much she divulges.

ExcuseTypos Sun 25-May-14 12:42:10

sad In your situation I would feel upset too. She's a grown adult and I think she could manage a sentence or two in a text every now and again. I think she's being pretty rude tbh.

I've got 2 DDs, one at uni, who usually phones about once a week but she does reply to a text or whats app. Dd1 phones me everyday for a chat on her walk home from work, because she wants to. So they are very different and I accept that, however I would be upset if either of them continually ignored a texts from me.

ExcuseTypos Sun 25-May-14 12:45:11

I can't believe people saying she's just busy. How long does it take to text "thanks mum, were off to the beach today, kids really excited"?

It's bloody rude to ignore texts.

Although I presume OP that you aren't texting her 5 times a day, every day.?

theresnowheretohidewithachip Sun 25-May-14 13:05:43

Thanks for replying. All your replies are really helpful and it's good to have different takes on this.

I don't get the feeling she ignores anyone else like this. I don't contact her every day. Just a text on fri to say have a great weekend and hope she's ok etc and to say I love you. Once a fortnight approx, I send an email asking how she is (she has stomach prob). I don't think it's unreasonable to get a teeny text back just to acknowledge it like Excuse says. She generally is polite, a good friend to her friends and when I did stay with her, she was never off the phone to them. So I am hurt because it feels rude. I don't want to know the ins and outs of her life, I don't want to interfere or intrude. I don't call her in the evenings because I know she's whacked out after work. But I would like to know if she's ok, and take some interest in her and her DH's lives.

I have lots of friends and lots of interests so I'm not sat at home feeling lonely and over-thinking. I just feel confused and hurt because she makes out things are ok between us, but her behaviour suggests otherwise.

When I email, I tell her briefly what I'm up to and where I've been. Though not about people she doesn't know etc etc. I send pics of things I know she'd like (animals, the occasional article, joke) and sent a special gift when she passed an exam recently because I was so proud and happy for her.

So, should I not bring it up with her again and just wait for her to contact her.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 25-May-14 13:19:11

I'd second the suggestion to phone a 'how are you?' rather than e-mailing or texting. Pick a time when she's not going to be tied up doing other things. It's less easy to ignore a ringing phone.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 13:19:45

My mum could have written your post, OP. In fact, I had to read it again to check that it wasn't her but I'm older than your daughter and live closer to her. I do the same things, write flowery birthday and mothers' day cards because I love my mum BUT it grates, it really does. When I needed her as a young teen she wasn't available to me and was quite horrible. I've never needed her since but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate what she's done for me.

My mum was also depressed when I was a kid and also made mistakes - and did/said some unkind things. She never kept confidences and now complains that I'm 'secretive'. I am - I do small talk and that's it. Even now, she's always telling me things about my brothers and their partners and it drives me mad. I cut her off when she does it, asking her not to and she says... "Well what am I supposed to talk about then?". That makes me so sad, she has no life of her own and isn't interested in making one, she wants everything to drop into her lap.

I visit her once a week for several hours and, although it isn't a 'duty visit', sometimes it's one that I'd rather not do because whatever time I spend with her is never enough - and it is for me.

Regarding the texting, my mother does this with abandon. It's got her into trouble with my brothers and their partners and she still thinks it's a great way of keeping in touch... long, long texts, managing relationships with them. Big mistake but she doesn't learn. I told her that I don't text. I'm not a texty person and whilst I don't mind the odd one, I see them as a functional thing, ie. I'm on my way. I don't want to hold a conversation by text. When does it ever bloody end? Endless replies... provided and expected. Ditto the endless media apps... it's madness! A text to me means that I take the information on it and act if needed; to my mum it means everything from I was thinking of her to send a text, that I want to chat and can she ring me for a long talk and when am I coming to see her next and can we have a day out? It's not surprising that my heart sinks although I'd never tell her that.

Take your cue from your daughter OP and mirror it. You've told her that you love her - and she's told you the same. Make your own life full and what you want it to be and stop putting the expectation on your daughter to fill it up for you. If conversations are nothing but a demand for information they quickly lose their interest and become stilted and resented.

You're geographically further away from your daughter but that doesn't mean that you can't plan a visit every couple of months, something to look forward to, or a trip somewhere together, somewhere you'd both like to visit.

What I'm saying is that 'familiarity breeds contempt' but then the reverse is also true. Make the contact meaningful and perhaps pull back a lot with your expectation of response. If you want to let your daughter know all that you are doing then great, post pictures on your apps and she can check in to see them if she wants to. No pressure. Don't make it expected of her, just that it's there and you're thinking of her. She's told you that she loves you, OP.

wickedwitchofwaterloo Sun 25-May-14 13:25:57

Lying has it spot on, my relationship with my Mother is pretty much the same as well, give or take.

But Lying has it spot on OP. I hope you can get something from what shes written.

turnaroundbrighteyes Sun 25-May-14 13:31:50

I'm sorry, but I think you are expecting way too much from her. From your OP you were emotionally unavailable to her so she hasnt been brought up to be naturally chatty to you. Yet now you are in a better place you want her to change and are hurt that she doesnt ?

Given her upbrininging isn't it great that she loves you and tells you she enjoys your messages? Can you not imagine her reading them and smiling and make that enough for you? It must have been very hurtful for her to try and engage with you as a child / teen and feel rejected, but from what she's said that's not what she's doing to you. Give her some slack, keep up the chatty emails without expectation and call her now and again or visit for a real chat. Maybe ask her how she'd like the relationship to be, how she'd like to hear from you and slowly rebuild a relationship you are both happy with.

Speaking from experience it really messes with your head when you have an emotionally unavailable parent, who you love, then have children of your own and realise just how "wrong" your own childhood was.

btw have you ever appologised to her for not being there?

Sorry if this sounds harsh, but surely you see that the most important thing is that she loves you and it's dual standards as the parent being upset for her not giving you what you didnt give her.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 13:33:39

x-posted with your last post OP.

I don't think your contact (from that post) is excessive. I just depends what you expect her responses to be. I think it is that which needs clarification. IWillIfHeWill made a good point when referring to the 'bus stop' that what is said can mean different things. I was nodding my head at that, it's very true.

What you said about your daughter interacting with her friends has also made me nod. She is different with them because they are her FRIENDS, not her mother. You are her mother and the relationship is - and should be - different. I know that some people value the friendships they have with their children but to me, that is something I would find cloying. My mum used to say that I was her best friend and it jarred so much; it's not my role to be her friend. I told her - gently - that she is my mum, that's 'higher' than a friend and I only ever want her to be my mum, no-one else can have that role.

My mum is also divorced, never been interested in finding another partner, which is fine, BUT she expects her children to 'fill in the gaps', ie. do tasks (my brothers, which they don't want to do) and me - ongoing personal and emotional support (which is wearing).

I'm thinking about how you can reach an 'understanding' with your daughter and I'd suggest that you wait until you are face to face, over tea and cakes or something - and say how you feel and ask how she feels about the contact, ask what works for her and would make her happy and secure - and then see where you can meet. It could be something very simple that is easily changed.

You sound very caring, OP and your daughter obviously knows that she is loved. Do you not feel loved by her? What would change that for you?

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 13:35:08

wickedwitch... I'm having a little cry because I feel like such a cow to write that. thanks

Timeandtune Sun 25-May-14 13:38:39

Could you go for quality and not quantity? Perhaps reduce the text/ email contact but plan a trip/ visit/ wee holiday for the two of you?

From my limited experience with DS1 who left home last summer the thing to do is to establish a more grown up and equal sort of relationship which will take you into the next phase.

Also wonder if you are feeling a bit of delayed reaction to the past and it might be worth speaking to someone ?

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 13:39:30

Gobsmacked at turnaroundbrighteyes post too, nodding vigorously.

bronya Sun 25-May-14 13:41:17

I sometimes don't speak to my Dad for months - we're both adults, and life is busy. He phones me when he wants a chat, at an appropriate time (i.e. after DS is in bed!) and visits every few months. Before I had DS I'd see him 3x a year or so, and phone every couple of months. It doesn't mean I don't love him or care about how he's doing - I figure if there's a problem he'll phone me, and if I need his advice I'll phone him. Day to day, our lives are pretty samey - nothing really to discuss! I'm sure your daughter is similar. If she's busy and happy, she won't think to phone you or text - she's grown up an left home!

wickedwitchofwaterloo Sun 25-May-14 13:41:49

Not at all Lying thanks It takes courage to write these things I think. It doesn't make you a bad person, sometimes you have to be honest for your sanity.

livingzuid Sun 25-May-14 13:45:01

I have a difficult relationship with my mother and so I write from the perspective of the one on the receiving end. Why would you want her to reply to your texts aside from the obvious? Because she feels obligated to? That is how I read this - because you've texted or emailed her she is therefore obligated to reply as it is the polite thing to do.

Why do you not want her to reply because she actually wants to? Then contact is meaningful - she's doing it because she wants to. It might be less contact but the cards and messages sound far more meaningful than some three word WhatsApp on a Friday evening when she's probably enjoying time with her DH and the kids.

Your messages and intent read as a bit controlling to me I'm afraid, even though that might not be what you mean. If she doesn't want to let you know, she doesn't want to let you know. You are her mum, not a friend and as your original post says, there is a complex background to your relationship already. It's not going to be the same type of communication she has with you as she does her friends.

If it is upsetting you again then you should discuss it with her. Or arrange more visits and face time which is far more valuable and fun for everyone as lying says.

But she should not be replying out of duty, guilt or obligation. It isn't right to try and force that onto anyone.

wickedwitchofwaterloo Sun 25-May-14 13:45:51

Oh goodness turnaround Very much this. My Mum tries sometimes to be nicer now and thinks this will heal what happened before, but then she flits off again and the cycle is repeated. I know things were hard for her though so I make allowances but it is hard sometimes when she wants to act like nothing's happened because she's having a good month/year or whatever.

OP. I think it's very obvious you love your daughter but give her some space I think.

livingzuid Sun 25-May-14 13:49:43

Gaaah X post. turnaround that is spot on.

Ifpigscouldfly Sun 25-May-14 13:51:49

I very much feel like lying. I speak to my mum often out of duty because it would hurt her if I didn't. She complains I don't confined in her, don't tell her things like I do my friends but she was like you when I was growing up and sadly people reap what they sow.

I love her very much. But I do not see her in the way many people see their mothers. It wouldn't occur to me to confide in her for example. She has very little info on my social life and boyfriends etc because I don't feel it's any of her business iykwim. If you learn to do without as a child you can't really come back around again.

I don't know how to help you - it's not really your fault and it's not my mothers either but it's just the way things turn out sometimes and it's sad. I'm sorry OP.

livingzuid Sun 25-May-14 13:53:31

wickedwitch you have just described my mother to a T. I can go months sometimes as I can't deal with the stress of it all. Sometimes allowing your children distance is the best thing you can do.

saadia Sun 25-May-14 13:54:35

OP have you ever addressed the past issues with her?

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