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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.

Clarabum Sun 25-May-14 14:05:14

I have a similar relationship with my mother. It was an emotional roller coaster growing up with her. In my teens, she left and left my sister and I with an abusive father. I was expected to raise my younger sister whilst my dad had a breakdown and my mum started her new life(and still was not happy). I emotionally detached from her and haven't relied on her since.
I now find it doesn't come naturally to include her in my life as she's rarely been there. She 's maybe been there in person but not in spirit.
When I had my dc's, she proclaimed how much she loved them yet did very little to offer practical help.

My dad pretty much actively participated in our lives. He'd visit, he'd babysit and we spent time together which ultimately repaired our relationship. We are very close now.

Perhaps it might be an idea to offer ways to practically show her your love for her and her dc?
Perhaps say you'll babysit so she and her husband can spend some time together?
Book a nice lunch for you together? I'm not saying that you need 'things' to prove you love her but you need to invest time not a text in your relationship.
My Granny always says "Your love is what you do, not what you say" and I think this is true.
A load of words when you haven't been emotionally available maybe won't mean that much to her. Perhaps she wants you to be emotionally and physically present in her life for these words to have any merit?

I could be speaking totally out of turn but it's what worked for my dad and I.
My mothers relationship with me is still very much fractured. I phone her but it's when I feel strong enough as I know i'm going to get an hour long rant about her life with a 30 second "how are the kids, oh i better get the dinner on, BYE" flung in at the end.

Hope you sort it out. You sound like you love her very much.

Rebecca2014 Sun 25-May-14 14:12:04

My mum is my rock and I always phone her up if I have exciting news or something bad has happened, both my sisters do actually and I hope in the future my daughter feels the same way about me that I do about my mother.

I know you are hurt but like some other posters have said, how they were brought up by their parents has damaged their adult relationship with their mother. Maybe worth writing an letter and have it out with her but I hope one day you have an close relationship with your daughter.

turnaroundbrighteyes Sun 25-May-14 14:23:46

Will reply properly later as I have to go out (thanks to others who've been there), but just wanted to caution OP to think very hard before opening a can of worms with her daughter. My Mum and I have a very good relationship in a lot of ways, in others it's limited. She's never appologised and probably never will, I'd like her to, but I think that the main reason she wont is that although I've been more open with her as an adult/ mother myself when she's hurt me she doesnt have a clue how bad things were for me as a child / teen. To tell her would cause her a whole world of hurt that wouldnt change anything and, really, even though I wish I'd been more vocal back then, now she doesnt deserve. If she hadnt been more appreciative of my point of view and compromised on our current relationship now, yes, I'd have to tell her....

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 14:27:09

I am deeply sad to read some of these posts... I thought my relationship with my mum was extraordinary and have never confessed any of my feelings about it before.

Rebecca2014's post made me even sadder because, if anybody asks - I will tell them that my mum too is 'my rock'. She isn't but she's a constant so I just translate 'constant' to 'permanent' and apply that likeness to 'a rock'. My mum doesn't exactly 'boast' but I know she 'revels' in telling other people about our close relationship. She must know deep down that all isn't rosy but I think she has an innate ability to 'gloss over' anything that threatens the picture she has.

Outwardly, I do all I can to keep up appearances because she needs that, she needs external validation in her skills as a mum. Inwardly, it makes me shudder. It's not possible to tell my mum, however gently, about what went wrong when I was a child, she doesn't accept it, gets angry and says that I didn't understand as I was a child... yada yada yada. Everything I say and everything she says - has to go through a 'mum filter' to make sure there is nothing that could harm or upset the balance of what she perceives is our relationship. It is truly exhausting - and not at all honest.

I feel as if I'm 'making up' for the love and support of four children, plus a husband, and I resent her for needing that so much. I know I won't have her forever and that too makes me terribly sad. sad

OP... I'm sorry. Your thread has become a place of catharsis for me but it must be very, very uncomfortable reading for you.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 14:29:47

x-posted with turnaroundbrighteyes again... bloody hell, yes to all everything she's posted. Can of worms? Check! Keeping the floodgates firmly closed? Check, check!

alphabook Sun 25-May-14 14:45:43

Unfortunately I also feel like my mum could have written that post.

I have a very difficult relationship with my mum...she has had depression issues ever since I can remember, however she completely refuses to acknowledge she has a problem that she can do something to fix. Everything is someone else's fault, my dad left her almost 15 years ago she still has him under her thumb and makes him feel guilty for everything that's wrong with her life. I also suspect she has high functioning autism/Aspergers as she has extremely bad social/communication skills. Whenever I speak to her she witters on about inane things, goes on about how crap her life is and asks endless inane questions, which means a lot of the time I end up ignoring her calls/texts because I just don't have the mental energy to deal with it. I always get back to her within a few days, but most of the time if I haven't got back to her within a day she messages me again, which makes me feel even more stressed about speaking to her.

She is single and has almost no friends she she has spent the last 15 years being obsessed with finding a boyfriend, at the expense of putting any effort into making and sustaining friendships. I then feel under a lot of pressure to be there for her, but it's extremely hard work.

It's obviously impossible to say whether any of the above is applicable to your relationship with your daughter as you haven't said what other social support you have and what your mental health is like now, but that's my experience from the other side. My advice would be to give her space - send her texts and emails but don't pressure her if you don't get an immediate response.

alphabook Sun 25-May-14 15:00:38

Re-reading the thread I really want to reiterate the point that others have made about meaningful contact. For me, feeling obligated to reply to my mum's texts/emails reciting what I've done over the last week is not meaningful communication, even though my mum is constantly wanting to know what I've been doing. I much prefer actually spending time with her than dull small talk over text. I know it's difficult as you live so far away from each other, but I bet you'd both be far happier with your relationship if you saw each other every couple of months and felt less obligated to maintain the small talk via text/email.

DesertRose1958 Sun 25-May-14 15:22:40

I also made mistakes as a mum due to circumstances so one day I got the children together and said sorry to them. I told them I hadn't know any better and that I always tried my best even when doing my best was doing it wrong. That said, I have a fab relationship with my children, they all live very close by and we spend a lot of time together, I think I can say we all see each other a few times a week at least. We like being together and Im fortunate enough to be allowed to be a very hands on granny to my 4 grandchildren. I had to say sorry to my children for failing them the way I did at times and tho they said there was no need to and they were very compassionate towards me when I did, I really feel that it strengthened us.

Say sorry to your girl, shown her you are human, yes there probably was nothing different you could do at the time you were letting her down because its more than likely all you could do till your light bulb moment. But those days have gone so try giving her a heartfelt sorry for not knowing any better or for being able to be better at the time. And personally I believe no child is ever too old to be told they are loved and adored.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 15:31:44

Lovely post, DesertRose thanks

livingzuid Sun 25-May-14 15:46:07

Just looking at your post again - she comes to you still for advice and your opinion which is surely more valuable than meaningless trivial chit chat? She comes to you on the things that truly matter, such as her health, but you seem to rank that as less important over wanting to know her day to day activities? That seems very sad to me.

Aren't you pleased that, in spite of all you both went through when she was a child, she still turns to her mum for comfort and support and your opinion is clearly respected?

Sending small things in the mail might to you be nice. Does she want them though? To you, asking her about her day might be what you want to hear about. As a busy working mum, does she really want to have a shallow conversation at the end of a long day? I suspect you may need to re-evaluate your expectations. It reads as all about your needs and trying to atone for the past but not how this benefits your daughter. And it's far more important for us to be able to call on our mothers for advice and support than discuss what the kids did at school that day. Perhaps there is no need to feel so guilty and your daughter accepts what was?

You obviously love her, but I would suggest a rethink here about what really matters.

Viviennemary Sun 25-May-14 15:50:59

She is being thoughtless. I don't think there is much you can do about that but I think it would be a mistake to give a speech on how you want more contact. You just have to keep in touch and be there if she needs you and hope that you might become closer in future.

MooncupGoddess Sun 25-May-14 16:10:35

I'm not sure the DD has children - can't see any reference to them in the OP?

OP... it sounds really hard. But sending her pointless little messages isn't really working, is it? She probably perceives you as quite needy, and given that you weren't great with her emotional needs when she was younger she may find it hard to make an effort with yours now.

Maybe just back off with the messages, but try to see her a little more often?

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 25-May-14 16:12:42

Being old enough to remember a time before mobile phones, I was "forced" to ring my mother every week at a set time. If I missed the time (was late) I would get the usual emotional blackmail, If I missed it completely there would be hell on earth.
It got to the stage where I couldn't go out on a specific night as I would have to stop and ring up my mum. (It really doesn't go down well when on dates, out with mates, or work colleagues.)

I honestly dread to think what she would be like with a mobile phone.

the short of it is give her her space.

livingzuid Sun 25-May-14 16:33:54

True mooncup not sure where I got that from sorry. Good post.

I don't see how she is being thoughtless. Why? By not pandering and responding to every message she is being sent? Why is that necessary? It sounds exhausting and I know I would just end up getting resentful.

livingzuid Sun 25-May-14 16:33:54

True mooncup not sure where I got that from sorry. Good post.

I don't see how she is being thoughtless. Why? By not pandering and responding to every message she is being sent? Why is that necessary? It sounds exhausting and I know I would just end up getting resentful.

Clarabum Sun 25-May-14 17:37:01

I've just noticed that too. I think I manifested children. Oops!

FrontForward Sun 25-May-14 17:47:40

Your daughter obviously loves you but doesn't need the same contact with you now, that you do.

Accept that and stop feeling guilty over the past. You're reading too much into this and will push her away if you try and make her meet your needs

Igggi Sun 25-May-14 18:00:14

I contact my mum far more often now I'm older and have dcs. In my 20s and working full time - well it probably seemed like I didn't have much time for her.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 18:25:00

Reading your first post back again OP... I would probably ask my mum for advice on health stuff too - not because I need to (I don't, I would see my doctor), but because it makes her feel needed and bolsters her self-esteem. That's a big part of my mum's life and her problem now because actually, she isn't needed in that way anymore.

endlesspossibilities Sun 25-May-14 18:28:00

I've been in tears this week over the lack of contact from my dd. I almost could have written op's post.

I hope my dd doesn't feel like many of you seem to, - that I'm needy, or controlling, or I was unavailable when she was a child, or whatever. I know I was the best mum I could have been but we are all human and we all make mistakes.

My dd is 22 and away at uni - a plane ride away. Something I encouraged her to do, helped her in every way I could.

Over the last few months it's been getting harder and harder to communicate with her. In the first couple of years we'd have an email occasionally, a Skype every couple of months, sometimes a quick chat on FB. Over the last six months it's been harder to do even that. Then I'd get a FB message..sorry busy with Uni work, or evening job, etc...but no news: she lost her phone, and she doesn't answer when I ask if she's got it back or if she's got a new one.

I hope the reason she's not communicating is that she's happy, busy, loving life and making plans. If that's so I'm pleased, although it still hurts to be left out of all of it.

It's hard to move from being the centre of her life to being a mere spectator..or not even that. But maybe that's what I have to do.

I'm not in her face all the time - I'm sure I'm not - but maybe her take on it is different. maybe that's what she's telling me. And now I need to back off.

I miss her and it hurts.

theresnowheretohidewithachip Sun 25-May-14 18:33:43

Wow, a lot to read here. Thanks so much for taking the time to reply everyone and so sorry some of you have had to grow up with mothers who were not there for you at times.

No, dd hasn't got children. But she works hard and is often v tired and I absolutely respect that. I also respect and understand that her husband is the most important person in her life and that's how it should be. I don't expect or want to come first in her priorities.

I would hate for her to feel she had to contact me out of duty or expectation. I just wish things were better. But as many of you have pointed out, growing up with a parent who was often unhappy and depressed, can have very serious consequences for the relationship.

I have apologised to her and she seems to have accepted that. I said I wished I'd been able to get myself more help/support and also wished I'd had the courage to leave my ex-h so she didn't have to grow up round an unhappy relationship. I said I wasn't the best parent at all and am really sorry about that and wish I could change things.

No, sending little messages isn't working that's for certain. I tend to only send one on a fri to say have a great weekend and love you. I don't word it in a way that demands or expects a response but that doesn't mean I don't feel sad when I don't receive anything back saying "thanks. "

She does contact me if she has a problem with her health or is upset about something she can't talk to her DH about and I am glad she feels she can. I don't tell her what to do, but to help her work out what she could do or try. I'm not socially unaware (I don't think anyhow). I have lots of really good friends and I'm busy and out and about. I don't expect her to fill any gap in my life. That's not her job. I just wish things were better between us.

I will stop with the Fri text message and emails and I think I will let her contact me when she needs to. I think the thing is that while I feel needed at times, I don't feel wanted. And that makes me regret so much about the past. And so angry with myself that she may have grown up not feeling secure or wanted at times.

I am incredibly proud of the person she has become despite not having an easy childhood. I've told her that. I don't put it down to what I've done or not done, just that she has had the strength of character and determination to not let it define her.

You have given me a lot to think about and I'll read the thread again this evening in more details. Thanks everyone.

DesertRose1958 Sun 25-May-14 18:34:57

Endless when did you last see her?

If its a while ago is there any way you could go and see her? I ask because how do you know all is well in her life?

How are children to know they are loved and wanted if we don't actually convey that to them?

I couldn't and wouldnt let your very sad situation go on. I'd go knocking on her door and say lets sort this out, what ever 'this' actually is.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 25-May-14 18:40:29

OP... I meant to ask you... Do you have any other children or just your daughter?

MrsRuffdiamond Sun 25-May-14 18:44:16

Do you know what? It's been an epiphany, reading through these posts.

As an only child, and one of an unhappy marriage, I became my mum's 'confidante' at a very early age. I have felt responsible for her emotional well-being all my life (she had a dysfunctional start to life, which she never seemed able to shake off), and have memories of incidents which made/make me cringe - she wrote a letter to me when I was on a school residential trip for a week, age 10 - handed out in front of everyone blush When I would return home from university (practically every other weekend, out of duty), I was greeted as though she hadn't seen me for months sad. She was hurt that I was annoyed by this, as I suppose that is what she had craved for herself, but I'm afraid I pushed her away because I felt smothered.

I have just realised that it must be partly as a consequence of this, that I have adopted the 'I will always be here for you, but I don't have any expectations of you' approach to separating from my children. Ds1 is away at uni, and I text him occasionally, call him occasionally, mostly to reassure myself that he's ok! He will sometimes initiate contact, and it's always lovely when we do get in touch, but my overwhelming feeling is that I am so happy he is enjoying life too much to be thinking of us all the time. I speak as one who had pangs of sadness every time I passed his empty room when he first left!

I would never want any of them to feel obliged to text/ make calls etc. because I hope we're secure enough in our relationships and happy enough in ourselves not to need constant reassurance. (I'm not saying this in a smug way at all. I just wish it could have been more like that for my mother and me).

MooncupGoddess Sun 25-May-14 18:46:00

I dunno DesertRose, often forcing a confrontation makes things worse, and if the daughter already feels crowded it wouldn't exactly help matters.

OP - if your daughter has children in the future your relationship may well get closer again. Lots of people are not terribly close to their parents in their 20s (God knows I wasn't) but see much more of them in later years.

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