Hi all. This is an on-going discussion for parents of grown children who are estranged. Tell us your story, share our pain.
karenj - I agree with what you wrote and it is a hard thing to do - coming to grips with the fact that the child you took care of and protected can now do it all by himself/herself; however, a great part of my son and DIL's estrangement from us is because, while on one hand they wanted to be recognized as adults, on the other hand, my future DIL, not my son, was "demanding" money from us, telling us she would decide where the groom's dinner would be held and we would pay for it, we would pay more money toward their wedding than her parents, even though we were limited to 60 guests and her stepmother/father could invite 120. When I said no, it would be split even, they got mad at us and told us we could not come to the groom's dinner at all, we could not invite anyone to the wedding but expected us to stand in the receiving line and receiver DIL's guests, my son allowed her to swear at us, and when I asked her to stop swearing, she respondeed with "f _ _ _ you". I would have to agree with the minister who married them when he said they are very immature and she is a drama queen to say the least. Two counsellors describe her behavior as having a personality disorder. Behavior like that makes it hard for a parent to treat them as adults don't you think?
I cannot comment on the actions of either you or your DIL, as I was not present.
Right or wrong, the relationship between a mother and (as in your case) a DIL is a power struggle, whether both parties recognize it as such or not. (I have a feeling that men don't realize this)
The facts are that she will always win, as she holds all the cards (your son's heart and, in future, your grandchildren)no matter WHAT kind of person she is.
Is this fair? Absolutely not.
I am not defending anyone, I have been in both positions. This is not a battle you can win, and your son will suffer the most if you keep fighting it.
Finding some ground where you can keep your dignity, and still remain part of your married childrens lives, is difficult indeed.
Best wishes and good luck to you.
You asked about my website, Estrangements. I set it up in early 2001 as a place to collect and provide information about family estrangements. I knew that being a mere layperson, that I would not be considered qualified to write a book on the topic. I didn't consider myself to be qualified or disciplined enough to write a book. But I knew that I had been impacted by estrangement, had suffered great pain from being estranged, and that it was an experience that people don't talk about much with the people that they run into every day. People talk much more about losses due to death and divorce but they don't talk much about their estrangements.
There wasn't a lot of information on it. It made me feel better to know that there were other people, even seemingly successful and "normal" people, smart and intelligent people, who were also experiencing estrangement. I list them on the site. I found and read a lot of books on the subject. I researched online and continue to do this research. I add this information: the names of celebrities and others who are estranged, links to online information on conditions that are catalysts for estrangement, links to support groups, miscellaneous links, lists of books on the subject, also movies, plays and poems. I put it all on the website and I also write a blog.
I haven't been writing much in the blog for a while because my daughter reads my blog and because I feel less and less inspiration to write there. Since my daughter has mental health issues, I have come to feel inhibited to write as frankly as I would write if she didn't have those issues. She reads my blog regularly despite not talking to me. I can't bring myself to write in an uncensored way there any more, I am aware that when I write about her it seems to trigger her manic side.
I often include the link to Estrangements on my posts here on Gardenweb but I don't include it all the time as I dislike the thought (which might not be true) that people might think I am pushing my site on them which is not my intention. The site is there if people want to visit it. If no one wants to visit, that's okay too. I created it as an information center and people can use it or not, visit it or not. I do feel good about creating it as there isn't much else good that has come out of experiencing family estrangement. I am providing the link below:
Here is a link that might be useful: Estrangements: The Website
love2garden, Another thing you asked about was bipolar disorder. This is also known as manic depression. A person with this disorder experiences periods of depression, periods of mania, and periods of feeling normal. Although they may believe that their periods of mania are normal too even though they aren't. While in their manic states they can do many reckless things or they might experience great creativity. The "seduction of mania" is something that you will see references too. It feels great to feel all powerful, tremendously creative, super intelligent, super duper Wonder Woman! But then the piper is paid when the person comes back down to earth and realizes the damage that has been done. Or they go into a depressive period and feel enormously self critical and perhaps even suicidal (for some).
I have links to several online sites on the Linkspage of my Estrangements website on the subject of bipolar disorder as well as other disorders.
As I've mentioned in past posts, I never saw evidence that my daughter had mental health issues when she was a child or a teenager. My mother had had serious mental health issues for all of my life. My daughter did not seem to be anything like my mother. She is still not like my mother in most ways but now I do see some similarities in the lack of control over some of her behavior and a lack of empathy for others. An attitude of the world spinning around her rather than having another center to spin around.
My daughter wasn't diagnosed until in her late thirties which is probably unusual to have a diagnosis so late. But then she never has liked mental health professionals so she might have put off going to see anyone as long as possible. It might be that her own fear kept her from getting a diagnosis until recent years.
Here is one link about bipolar disorder that I am providing below. There are more links about bipolar on the Linkspage of Estrangements.com.
Here is a link that might be useful: Bipolar Disorder (on National Institute of Mental Health)
karenj - I agree with you but why does it have to be a power struggle? I was excited to have DILs since I only have sons. After my husband and I were treated so nasty (we had never encountered that kind of behavior before), I dropped them a note inviting them for Thanksgiving, called my son inviting them for Christmas (and always saying if they had other plans that was fine too but just wanted them to know they are included), in Jan. called my son to have lunch, telling him let's start a new year not hurting each other but loving each other. He wrote back that he wanted no calls, emails, birthday cards, etc. from us and that he would contact us when he felt like it. That is just plan disrespect. Before when they sent a nasty email, they called to try to change it. This time when I received the note, I have done nothing. He has made it clear he does not want any of his family in his life so that is the way it will be. His aunt and uncle and cousins are quite disappointed in him and they also are not contacting him. Everyone figures if he only has her, he can't blame anyone else for his problems. He was raised in a Christian home, always funny and talking all the time. Once they got engaged, his MIL to be told me she thought my son was so serious and never talked much or smiled much. Humm......
Thanks so much for the great answers.
Would you please give me your opinion?
Here's the short version: My daughter (22) still wasn't home by 9 a.m. on Sat morning from an all nighter Friday night. I simply asked her to find another place to live as soon as she could and that in the meantime maybe she could get a few of her things from our house and stay wherever she had spent the night at.
Now I'm feeling terrible. Maybe I should have given her more chances/notice. She had just told us earlier that she felt entitled to party, so I felt that more chances would only prolong the inevitable. (This was not the first incident, and the week prior I had set a ground rule of 2 a.m. and she couldn't keep it)
Am I over reacting? Should I have just kept quiet and let her come in whenever?
I'm not sure there is one right answer to what you are asking about your decision to ask your daughter to move out. I remember that you said that you and her father had been doing a lot of things for her that she was probably capable of doing herself. I don't know what the ground rules were for her living with you. If one rule was that she had to be in by a certain time and that rule was clearly stated, then she knew that she was breaking the rule. Thus, she as an adult made a decision to break the rule, knowing that there would be a consequence.
If someone breaks a rule and that rule was established as a condition of living in the house, then it makes sense that she can't live in the house. I would not feel guilty. I would think that she is learning an important lesson. If she works at a job and her boss says that a job must be done a certain way and she doesn't do it the way that the boss says to do it, then she'll be out of a job and the boss will not be feeling guilty. No one who is an adult gets to do whatever they please without consequences.
If you now feel uncomfortable with the rule, you can open the subject up with her and discuss what the rules would be for her to live with you and decide on something that you agree works for you and her. But whatever the rules are, it makes sense to expect that she lives by them if she has agreed to do that and live under your roof.
Since she has found a job and is looking for a place to live, this consequence might be good for her.
If you do change your mind, it does make sense that you have some rules and that you make it clear what the consequences are of breaking them. And stick to it. If you threaten but don't follow through, she will know that and do whatever she feels like doing.
Thanks so much for the response. The ground rules were/are simple: be home by 2 a.m. or call and let us know where you are; Get on birth control pills right away; and take care of your (her) dog.
I don't feel bad about the rules, I think they are fair, and am going to stick to them.
Here is an excerpt from an e-mail I sent her right afterwards:
"You are throwing away an opportunity by not staying home with us and abiding by the ground rules. You may think you will be happier moving out because you will have the freedom to party whenever you want with no one to tell you otherwise. However, where ever you go, you will have to pay rent & utilities, hence work longer hours to afford it, and will be locked into your job. You have a chance to find new opportunities and directions for your life if you stay home and make use of your free time by doing something constructive and not partying. (You've already been out of college for almost a year now, and have been partying quite a bit since then.)
We have not had any problems until recently, since the VOV music festival. Since then you've cut back your work hours to three days and party seven; no more saving money, trying out a college class, taking walks, or anything else positive. For a while, you were getting up and jogging, watching what you ate, taking little trips to the park, and even getting to sleep before midnight.
We were there for you when you needed us, and we will always be there for you if you should need us again in the future. You are always welcome."
What I'm trying to grasp at understanding is her perspective; it totally eludes me. Am I missing something here that's obvious? How does it read to you? Why is she so very angry all the time at us (even before this latest incident)? When I was growing up I had absolutely no parental support and had to rely upon myself only, I would have been thrilled if my parents offered me a leg up in the world.
My daughter has complete mood swings, almost completely different personalities. For a while she will be 'normal', and then for a longer while she will be almost 'evil'. During her normal periods, she says thank you for everything and hugs us; and during her off times her facial expressions become a nasty sneer and she says how ignorant (among other things)we are. My husband says that Mr. Hyde has almost completely taken her over now as we never get to see Dr. Jekyll anymore.
I have read your posts carefully and am now going over your website. It is truly wonderful! I never knew Gerard Depardieu had trouble with his son. I congratulate you for all of your hard work in keeping it up. I totally agree about your daughter reading your posts and am glad you are sensitive to the damage it might cause her to read the truth.
Any light you can shed on this would be greatly appreciated. I suspect I'm just going overboard on the guilt trip thing.
You sound like an eminently fair person and parent. I too had to make my own way financially when I was young. Yet my daughter flunked out of the first college that she went to (that was paid for by me and my ex.) Then flunked out of the second one (also paid for by us). She worked in a gas station for a while before she realized that working in a gas station for the rest of her life was not a good career choice. Subsequently, she ended up taking a better job and then going back to school which she had to pay for herself. After she graduated, she had good jobs for years before she changed her mind and decided to do something else and became self employed.
When she estranged herself from me, I was shocked by the level of anger towards me that she had. I didn't understand it, where it was coming from or why it was there. There was nothing that I could say that was right. She was 29 when that occurred.
I have never understood the anger. About 10 years later she became angry at her stepmother and then her father too and she estranged both of them. I don't think that there is anything that either of them could do to change the situation although they might not even want to change it now.
So where does the anger come from in your daughter? I don't know. There is the possibility that she might be suffering from bipolar disorder. Some who have it do show tremendous irritability. Some can have irrational thinking. Most do abuse either alcohol or drugs. They may overdo just about anything.
Or maybe your daughter is just in the throes of being young and reckless.
Then there is borderline personality disorder. Some who have that also have bipolar disorder. Those with borderline personality disorder often are self destructive. They tend to be extremely emotional and sensitive to abandonment. If someone can't be there for them whenever they want them to be there, they can feel as though they have been let down, betrayed, abandoned. They will idealize someone and then decide that the same person is worthless and they'll go from idealizing them to demonizing them. I have links on my website about that disorder too. There is a Yahoo group for parents who have kids who have that disorder. With those kids it is very important to have structure and boundaries and rules and to stick to them.
I don't know why your daughter is acting this way. If it is a longstanding pattern of behavior, maybe she does have something that has a name and a treatment program. Or it might be that she is involved in something like drugs that are affecting how she thinks and feels. What do they do at those parties? Then it might be something like drinking. Alcoholism can happen in any age group.
At the age of 22 chances are that you aren't able to control what she decides or whatever it is that she considers a priority. She is still VERY young and may figure things out on her own and change direction as she has to face consequences. So keep that in mind. There is no way that you can control what she does with her life. She is going to have to make mistakes and learn.
If you think that her pattern of behavior might indicate that she has a condition that would benefit from treatment, you could talk with her about it some day. Although she might not react well. But you would have opened up the subject and maybe made her think about it.
It's awfully tough being the parent sometimes.
I turned off my cell phone last night and got the first good nights sleep in three weeks!
Thank you so much for your answer!
The bipolar description doesnÂt exactly fit, except for the alcohol abuse, but the borderline personality describes whatÂs happening to a ÂtÂ. She is extremely sensitive to abandonment, and vacillates from idealizing me to demonizing me (most of it is directed at me, though hubby usually gets the verbalized backlash as soon as he opens his mouth to say ÂitÂs a nice day isnÂt it?Â). Since she has been the center of our world while she was growing up, I know she feels IÂve betrayed her by not tolerating her behavior and asking her to leave.
You said that your daughter was 29 when she estranged herself from you, how old is she now? I guess I'm quite a 'newbie' in comparison...:) as it's only been going on and off for around three or four years now with us.
My daughter graduated college (BA Fine Art) in April of last year. During her last two years of college she worked at a downtown restaurant as first a hostess, then a waitress, and now a bartender for the past year. Since sheÂs a bartender now, she drinks on the job, and afterwards, sleeps all day and gets up to do it all over again. (There are alcoholics on both sides of our family tree.) IÂm not that sure that drugs are not involved, and if not now, they soon will be. She has fallen into the crummiest group of kids that hang out downtown and she will do just about anything to impress them.
I really appreciate you going through everything with me. ItÂs very reassuring to know that IÂm not alone. I respect what you have to say immensely. It is all very objective, as youÂve been through it too. I read on one of your blogs that you didnÂt feel like going back over your estrangement problems lately, but you have helped me tremendously and IÂm very glad you did.
I think that some people, when they're young -- when they're teenagers and in their early twenties -- can go through a period where they experiment with alcohol and drugs and when they get into partying as though it is a lifestyle. But most people grow out of that. As your daughter is only twenty-two, she is almost still a kid. The more she encounters the realities of life, the more she will realize what life is really like. Depending on how she feels about herself and what her goals are, she will have to make decisions at each turn. So there is hope that she will eventually make decisions that are good for her. As I keep repeating, she is still very young. I know of another young woman who even left home for four years and is now only twenty-one and is going through the process of reconciling with her family who had almost given up on her.
You just hope that she doesn't do something enormously stupid while she is going through this.
I have quite a few alcoholics in my family. We have a Scandinavian ancestry and it seems that there is a high rate of alcoholism among Scandinavians. Since I have a scientific background, I tend to look at that fact and wonder why, in terms of evolution, that is. I have read that moderate alcohol consumption can increase the levels of good cholesterol (the HDLs). So my theory is that maybe my Scandinavian ancestors lived longer due to their consuming alcohol, thereby keeping their HDLs high? But regardless of the reason, I have a whole slew of close relatives who shouldn't drink but have drank and some still do drink.
So years ago I went to Al anon and found it to be a savior of my sanity. You are probably not at a point where you think that your daughter has a serious problem with alcohol. If you get to that point, I highly recommend going to Al anon. You could even go before you get to that point so that you could ask questions and familiarize yourself with that group. The guidelines that they offer are so helpful. The guidelines are ones that make sense no matter whether you know someone with a drinking problem or not. Their guidelines would be helpful for someone who has a relative with another disorder too ... like borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder. BTW, those with borderline personality disorder do also tend to abuse alcohol and drugs.
My daughter is now forty-one. Another thing that she does that might not be helpful for her bipolar disorder is that she does drink. I don't know how much she drinks. I only know that she does drink. I also know that drinking alcohol is not recommended for those who are taking medication for bipolar disorder. That alcohol can make the medication not be particularly effective.
I thought that my daughter would have been aware of the risk of her having a drinking problem due to the widespread alcoholism among my relatives. But maybe she thinks that she is the exception and that if she loves to drink, her love of drinking has no relevance? I think that is called Denial.
Anyway, I think there is hope for your daughter, regardless of how badly she has been acting lately. One thing that I wish I had not done when my daughter was a similar age to your daughter is that I was too quick to try to help her when she did something irresponsible. She didn't live with me at the time but she didn't have to pay rent as her father was paying the rent for her. Her father and I had just divorced and I lived in another state. So in my anxiety to be a good mother and to be a nicer better kinder more generous parent than my ex and to demonstrate how much I loved her, I was super generous at Christmas time and when she lost her only wheeled means of transportation of getting to college (which was within a long walking distance), I replaced it with a new bicycle. Which doesn't sound like much but in retrospect it is the principle. --- If you lose your one and only bike by not securing it, mom will buy you another.
So if I could do that all over again, I would not have been so quick to jump in and be the savior super mom. Not that her irresponsibility after that was my fault. It wasn't. But by jumping in and doing things like that, I was not helping her learn about life. She had already flunked out of one college at that point. She had not had to assume responsibility for anything at that time.
We value things more when we have to work for them. Or when we have to walk to college (as I did) rather than have someone buy us a new bike or a car or whatever.
Thanks, I will hold on to the hope, that like you said, she will grow out of this stage as she gets older, she is not yet a fully developed human being.
You are so on target when you say that 'We value things more when we have to work for them'.
My daughter had a full scholarship to our state university, and grandma bought her a newer model Eclipse to go to school in. Within 3 months, she lost her scholarship due to bad grades, and she drove her car off a mountain road, totaling it(luckily she escaped with only small scratches)So in order to continue with her education, she had to take out student loans and buy a car for herself on payments. Later she did admit to me that she didn't appreciate either one because they had been handed to her on a silver platter.
My DH and I also made a serious error in judgement with her. After she graduated, we let her move into one of our rent houses. She agreed to pay rent (a reduced amount), however each month was a knock down, drag out to get it from her. We are not wealthy and rely on that money to pay our bills. When she and her BF split up six months ago, I offered her to live with us. We ended up with serious damage to the house and we had to do most of the boxing up and moving for her. All of this, in retrospect, sounds like what you're talking about. The real lesson we're teaching her is that we'll step in and take care of the consequences/problems for her, and that's not a good message. I guess at the time you don't realize what you're doing in an effort to be a super parent.
I don't really know what to look for if she's using drugs, but I know the first time I saw her 'loopy' from drinking a few months ago, I went in the bedroom and cried.
Part of me thinks that it might be better if we didn't see her for awhile. We like a drama free, peaceful routine. This is way too hard on both of us. My husband is a generous and kind soul who is baffled by this and keeps saying 'what'd I do?' (it's hard to see him hurt).
Well, I hope all is well with you now, and that you enjoy a peaceful routine.
Best wishes, and thanks, Jan
My daughter just showed up and told us that she's buying a house here in town for herself. I told her she could stay with us again until she could have her closing. She said that she has already qualified for the loan - imagine that!
I'm so happy for her. She will finally know what it's like to be the responsible one. She did find a good set up where the house has an efficiency unit in the basement that she could rent out, or stay in the basement and rent the top part out.
She was very cordial and said that she needed to get her own place anyway. This is too cool, as I was so worried about her, and of course thinking the worst.
She will not be able to descend too low or she will risk losing her house, and I know she won't do that. As I said earlier, she only appreciates what she's had to work for, not what was given to her, that's probably only human nature anyway.
I still have my doubts about her mental health, this hasn't solved any of that. But at least now she has a positive direction to move towards instead of stagnating. Whew, it was sure hard not to cave in this past week, and I couldn't have done it without your help!
Well, that sounds like good news! She's taking some positive steps and assuming some responsibility of her own! That is great! I'm glad to hear that she was cordial. She may have been in agreement with you more than you know.
As for mental health issues, some people have them but also function quite well most of the time. My daughter has done very well regardless of the diagnosis of bipolar and whatever else she might or might not have.
I think you did great this week and you need to give yourself a pat on the back and credit for making good decisions. You did good! :-)
I hope that more good things are on the horizon for you and for her. It's nice to hear good news for a change!
I think you asked me how I am doing. Most of the time I am working very hard at making a living or at volunteering for a nonprofit. I would love to take a vacation but can't do that for some time. I think about my daughter every day but it takes up a minor part of my day. I wonder how she is and how she went in such a different direction that took her away from me. I don't think I will ever be able to understand that. For me the worst thing is that she has been diagnosed with a serious mental health problem and after having a mother who has had almost a lifelong very serious mental health condition, it seems very unfair to me that it has struck my daughter too. I am very angry at mental illness. That may sound ridiculous but I feel as though I have been robbed of two people who were very important to me. But no one said life was fair.
I hate mental illness. It is a cruel horrible illness that doesn't let people be all that they might have been. I hate it!
You've really opened my eyes with regard to mental illness. Your hatred of it is justified. If it were cancer instead of mental illness, you would not hate it any less, it would only be more visible to the world, but it robs the quality of life nonetheless.
I am very happy to hear that you think of your daughter only during a minor part of the day. That is what I shall strive for also.
The funniest thing about my daughter is, that although she appears to hate us, she just had to take us by her new prospective house yesterday and ask our opinion/approval. Once we told her it was great (as it will keep her grounded in a way that we were obviously powerless to do) she dropped us off at our house and went on her way. I offered her to stay at our house while she was waiting to close in about 3 weeks, but I have a suspicion that she's vilified us to her friends so much that she can't do that and still save face. If I had allowed her to drag this misbehavior out, she would have blown all of her savings, and probably lost her job as she was never there when they needed her anymore.
I am still going to research borderline personality disorder as her getting a house hasn't solved her mental issues. Even when I become more aware of her issues, I doubt she will let me help her, but it definitely help me to understand the dynamics of what is happening. As you said your mother had problems, so did mine. I guess I worked overtime trying to make sure that my daughter never had to face the problems I did growing up.
I smiled when you said you are from Scandinavian background and that they tended to consume more alcohol. My DH is from Slavic descent and my background is mostly Irish/Italian and all three countries are also known for their alcohol consumption, and our family tree is riddled with red noses :).
Thanks so much for giving me your feedback this past week. It really helped to hear from someone who has gone through similar problems and survived (quite well).
I'm pretty sure she's going to go back to ignoring us now. She made it clear yesterday (once we told her we liked her house), that she was going to have a big house warming party and we were not invited. While she was renting a house from us last year, she made a big deal about changing the locks and telling me it was to keep me out. I was floored because I would never visit her uninvited, and wouldn't have even known the locks were changed except that she told me. So much will never be resolved between us. Maybe as you said, simply growing up/older will help her. I will never understand her anger, and will just accept that it exists.
I was delighted to hear that you volunteer. I too was thinking about doing something along those lines. I hope that you keep up with your estrangement work, because it's desperately needed. It seems that although a lot of parents are estranged from their children, they don't like to talk about it because it seems like an admission of failure as a parent, and so much of our self image is wrapped up in being a 'good' parent. It's
especially hard when you see and hear of other parents with 'pollyanna' relationships with their adult children, and of course, during the holidays.
We too wanted to make some vacation/travel plans, but we won't be able to afford it for awhile. (We were even thinking about maybe just getting a Amtrak pass and winging it, maybe next year.)
Well, today I'm going to reorganize my self/priorities, and draw up plans to make our guest bedroom back into a craft room for DH and I.
Write again and let me know how your doing.
Well everyone, it's been a while. This is harder than I thought it would be. While death is a natural part of life, estrangement and abandonment is not. While I am having difficulty dealing with the powerful emotions of my mom's death, it is intensified by my daughter's estrangement. You can't imagine how many times I have wanted to pick up the phone and call my mom. You can't imagine what it's like to be without a family.
A very good book on Borderline Personality Disorder is "Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder" by Paul Mason, M.S. and Randi Kreger. I take it off the shelf and reread parts of it occasionally. I bought it years ago because of my mother's illness. Borderline Personality Disorder has some connection to Narcissistic Personality Disorder too in that the person with BPD has a similarly way above average self centered attitude towards the world and the people with whom they have relationships. It is as though only their feelings count. No one else's feelings really count. You might be feeling upset because you learned you have diabetes but it means nothing to them because they got a scratch on the bumper of their new car. And you are not being sufficiently considerate of their feelings about that scratch. Or you might have something else to do that makes you not be at their beck and call and then you have betrayed them and let them down and you are beneath contempt. In both conditions there is a mind boggling self centeredness.
I think that is a great idea to do something with that room that is for yourselves.
BTW, a tip I received from a therapist years ago about coping with my mother and her illness was to ignore everything she did that I didn't like and to praise the things that she did that I liked. This turned out to be excellent advice. The problems (prior to taking his advice) would be the worst when I would react. Once I stopped reacting to the things that were most likely to upset me and I made a point of saying nice things about her better behavior, then there were no opportunities for argument. It stopped conflict in its tracks. Since my mother was EXTREMELY manipulative and out of control, this was challenging but it did work -- to bring the level of conflict down to nothing for a very long time.
Today I have come down with a cold in my nose and I am feeling a bit under the weather. But it is sunny outside today for a change so that's good.
I went to my nieces house for her son's birthday. While there, I was informed that my daughter, after my husband called to tell her I was in the emergency room and that my mother had died, phoned my brother. Neither my brother or sister-in-law would speak to her, but my niece was there. She answered the phone. My daughter asked her what was going on, as if my being in the emergency room and her grandmother dying was some sort of plot or scheme against her. My niece told her everything that had happened and how I found my mother. She told my daughter that she needed to be with me, that she had differences with her parents too, but that she could not abandon them and that I really needed her. She asked my daughter if she was afraid of her husband and if he had ever hurt her. Daughter replied, "No, is that what they're telling everybody?" My niece said, "No, but you can't seem to go anywhere or do anything without his permission, you can say anything and speak for yourself. She stated she was glad she had her husband to "fight her battles for her," and that she enjoyed him making decisions. She said, "I don't know what you've been told and I don't want to discuss this, but I'm afraid of my mother, not my husband. I was up at 4:00 a.m. this morning bawling my eyes out, confused yet again. I'm still griefing over the loss of my parents, feel guilt over not being there when Mom died and this is just mind boggling. I cried out to God again. My spirit is broken. It makes no sense. I never NEVER laid a hand on my daughter. Once again, my mind reeled with memories of wee morning talks, as she would curl up in my bed, shopping, color guard and dance team competitions, when she was real young, Scooby Doo, milk and cereal and being there and supporting her in her every endeavor. God help me. Grant me peace with this. Grant me peace with you. May my relationship with God be strengthened through this in some way. May it serve some purpose. I've just got to believe this. I just have to.
I am so very sorry to read of your pain - and it seems trivial to say that I DO agree that nothing happens without a purpose
The only sensible advice I can give you based on my own experience (so very much like your own with daughter and manipulative sil etc) is too take as much care of your own physical health as you can at the moment - think of it as a very important factor in your relation with God and with others.
This isn't easy - I am suffering terrible palpitations as I write and have ben struggling with my own health since all this cropped up. I'm trying not to give strength to the aweful negitivity of the situation.
Hopefully others will come up with some coping ideas - I know it seems impossible just now but you will cope.
Read a few of these stories and feel both sorry and relieved. Mostly sorry. A few years ago I would have never dreamed we'd have a story like this.
My wife and I have been married for 25 years. We've been steady, no talk of breaking up or anything like that. We have two children, a 23 year old son who moved away a couple years ago and a 20 year old daughter who still lives with us...sort of. The daughter is the one with problems.
When our son was born, my wife quit her job and we became a traditional family. I worked a steady job and earned the money. Wife took care of the house and kids. Tried to do fun stuff on the weekends including frequent visits with both sets of grandparents, aunts uncles, cousins etc. Went to church on Sundays.
All was good till the daughter turned about 13 or so...eighth grade. For a couple of years before, she'd became a little bit mouthy but still compliant. During eighth grade, she became openly defiant to us and her teachers at school. She started using vulgar speech, and would actually cuss us out when we'd talk to her about any of these behaviors. She began a relationship of sorts with a boy in her own grade around that same time or shortly there after. Nice enough kid, but the daughter was literally obsessed with him. In high school, she'd get up at 4:30 AM to get ready and get to school way early just to see him. Though she got to school hours early every day, she was late to her classes every day. Every time we or the school staff would try to talk to her about this, she'd blow up and go into an insane tirade about her boyfriend. She was expelled from school a few times over this. We hoped and prayed this was just some kind of hormone driven phase that would pass. It didn't. Took her to a couple of therapists, took nothing to get her to demonstrate her out of control behavior in front of them. One had the sage advice to her to imagine putting her cares into a balloon and letting it float away. What a crock. None suggested any further in depth evaluation of her mental health.
She rather suddenly withdrew from our family completely. Seldom ate meals with us, would just come home and disappear into her room. She'd refuse to go anywhere or do anything with us. She would pretend to be nice when she wanted something though. The only person she was fooling was herself if she thought we were falling for it.
We did manage to get her through high school which I consider a huge achievement under the circumstances.
When she turned 18 and had graduated from high school, she moved into an apartment with that boyfriend she'd been obsessing about for the previous 4 years. We told her we didn't approve which she already knew, she's too young, etc. She did what she'd done for years, disregard everything we said and did what she d*mn well pleased. Of coarse trouble started in no time. Within 6 months she asked if she could come back home to which we said ok, but she has to work or go to school. She started hair hair school already. She hit it hard and completed a two year coarse in about a year. She also started seeing a high school drop out with no job and no ambition. Nice enough fellow, but he's a bum. Dresses in black, has piercings in his nose and lip. Daughter started doing the same. A very off putting look to employers and we told her so. Since then, she got a job, got fired...lazy bad attitude. Got another job, quit, had same evaluation. Offered several more jobs, didn't take any of them. In the mean time she's racking up bills and burning through what little money she had. Her car needs tires and an oil change...actually needs a whole new car. Insurance coming due in a couple of months. School loan to be repaid, a credit card at a jewelry store where she bought that bum something on credit for several hundred dollars. We sneaked a peak at her bank statement. She's got $60 as of Saturday. She lays in bed till 10 AM, then goes and hangs around with that bum till after I go to bed...we never see her.
My wife and I have been planning on moving to where our son lives for sometime now. I had job offers that I passed on due to ailing parents, now deceased, and waiting for the daughter to get her act together. We finally had enough. Called her on her cell phone...another bill she won't be able to pay. Told her to get home, we've got to talk. She asked if we were kicking her out. I said we'd talk about it when she arrived.
First I told her we love her. Then told her we're putting the house up for sale...it is now. That I'm taking the next job that comes open where we'd been planning to move. I told her she needs to come with us and make a fresh start, that she's not ready in anyway to take care of herself if she elects to stay here. That we and her brother are who really loves her and want to help her. Having said that, I told her I've been letting the tail wag the dog all I'm going to. Told her bad things are going to happen and there will be consequences if she ignores her financial responsibilities, that the car will quit if she ignores it as she does, and I'm not paying one more dime for this nonsense because she's not learning a thing this way. Told her she's been creating problems which we've been covering for and now we're just ready to let it all happen so she'll have to deal with the consequences of her actions. I also suggested that she see a Dr while under my insurance to get an evaluation made. Told her to tell the doc her behaviors are getting in the way of her life and needs some help.
She's been fairly cordial since when we see her, but still plans on staying behind when we move. Told us last night her master plan is to stay at friends houses. She does this a lot now. Told her she'll run out of friends real quick that way, but she's still defiant. So, looks like by the age of 21, she'll be bankrupt over a few thousand bucks and who knows what else.
For years now she's been willingly digging herself into a hole and we've been disparately trying to fill in behind her. We've shelled out $12k over the last year on her behalf with no improvement in her outlook. Don't know what else we can or should do, but as far as I'm concerned, we're done until she's ready to be helped.
There's a lot more to the story, but that would take a book to write. Don't anyone even try to tell me in some circus side show phony Dr Phil fashion that we taught our daughter to be this way. We've been loving, supportive, safe, steady, involved parents. Letting her fall flat on her face is our last resort.
Dear Jankin: Sometimes I too have to refrain from writing posts, because I get heart palpitations. But this morning, I just sat down and let it rip. And Gary, I understand, the last thing you need is someone from the outside, looking in, making some inane assumption that you neglected or raised your daughter improperly. People who know us well, know we loved and cared deeply for our daughter. People who are merely good acquaintances...well, I don't honestly know what they think, but I would assume it reflects poorly on us. If God doesn't intervene in this, then I pray for the peace to get me through it. That's something I haven't enjoyed for a long time. I get snatches of it occasionally, but something seems to come up to remind me of the situation and I allow my peace to be robbed from me as I think about all of the "ifs." If I only knew that God had a purpose for allowing this to happen, and that God would indeed intervene at some point in time, I could manage so much better. It doesn't have to be tomorrow, next week, or next year, just at some point in my life time. But you know, maybe that's what I'm being taught...to trust God even when the circumstances appear impossible. God knows I'm trying so hard, so very hard.
Cornflakes - this happened because God gave us all free will - He doesn't like the way our children are behaving, and that is why we need to continue to pray for them. It is important for me to pray for not only my son but my DIL who hates me and I wait for everything to be fixed. You see, my problem is that when I pray that I am turning everything over to God, in my heart I am saying "but God, I have a few ideas for you to make things happen faster". Patience is a virtue - something we humans don't always have, at least I don't. I want instant results.
We need to focus on those who love us. Something I am also working on. My husband and other son are so wonderful and that is where I need to be.
But in thinking about my estanged son, I ran into a neighbor (young - 40) at the grocery store and she asked about my son. She said she has a girlfriend from high school with crohn's disease and the mood changes and what it does with your personality, you are up and you are down, you are nice and you are mean, could be playing into why my son has sent such nasty emails and refuses to contact us. But I still believe his wife is at least 95% to blame for cutting him off from his family.
I have been researching the physical effects of crohn's on the body but not the emotional part. Does anyone have any familiarity with personality changes with this disease?
I think I asked this before, but are there two "continuing" forums going? Both started on April 18?
You're doing the right thing. Just resist the temptation to rescue her when she comes to you begging and crying for help.
I think you are doing the right thing. You have done your best. They must learn from consequences.
All the best to you and your family.
After all of these years...and I'm writing this out of anger, I give up. I just give up! I don't regret one thing I said to her, one thing I did as I raised her. After all of the grief, agony, tears, hurt sleepless nights, physical problems, depression...I'm sick of it and I regret having her at all. I regret wasting my life and the last ten years wondering...ten years of confusion. I'm ready to move on with my life and whatever happens to her, happens. While I don't wish anything bad off on her, whatever comes her way, comes her way. If she lives, if she dies. I just don't care. I just can't bring myself to worry about this anymore. I'm going to die myself if I don't stop this and stop it soon. I deserve better. And while I feel somewhat guilty about letting go, I have to. It is literally killing me and robbing me from peace. What a waste of my time, what a waste of my life to spend it mourning for someone who hates me.
Cornflakes - I am so glad to see you express your anger. That is the first step to healing. I had so much anger bottled up and dumped it on my friends. I am amazed they hung in there with me. I just want to tell you it gets better but it is hard to work on it. For me, summer is just around the corner and my husband, other son and I spend lots of weekends at the lake and I spend time in my garden. That helps.
Can you set some goals for yourself - do some things that really will help you be happy again? As mothers we think we have to carry the burdens of the world - wrong! We deserve happiness too. Plan a trip, start a new hobby, etc. I go to Curves and while exercising I am working out some of my anger about my son and DIL.
Keep writing - it is a good healer.
Have any of you noticed this quote on the main page? It is so true - and this guy was king in 1936!!
The thing that impresses me the most about America is the way parents obey their children. - King Edward VIII
I appreciated your message Garden. I just do not believe that God wants me to cry anymore, be up all night anymore, or mourn my daughter. And, this may upset some, but I'm not going to pray any more about it. God already knows the situation. And, frankly, I'm tired...and he's probably tired too, of me asking the same things over and over. I can't have a right standing relationship with God until I have peace. And, I can't have peace if I allow myself to grieve daily over my daughter. Enough is enough. I know this is not going to be easy, that things will arise that will bring her to mind, but I vow to overcome this pain. She's not losing any sleep over it and truth be known, is prob-ab-lee enjoying the fact of how much she has hurt me. It's not worth it. And she's not worth it.
Ginny, any changes since your last posting? It's been quiet in here for a while. My daughter called yesterday...first time in 5 years. I could not get to the phone. I tried to call her back, but my call was blocked. I phoned my husband and work. He called her from his work number. She didn't answer, but he left a message on her squawk box and told her I had just gotten in and couldn't make it to the phone, but that I was available now and to call back. Fifteen minutes later, she called. I was shocked to hear her voice. All she said was, "I dailed the wrong number. I'm sorry," and hung up. If it were the wrong number, why did it ring 10 times? And, why would she call back to say she dailed the wrong number? Do you think it was a mistake? Or, do you think she wanted to talk? Her voice cracked and she sounded as if she may have been crying. I just don't know. And....I just discovered that our state now has visitation rights for grandparents. They had it always, but it had to be extenuating circumstances. Now however, it doesn't matter. I talked to an attorney and he said I could and would receive visitation if I pursued it. I just don't know. I feel she is indifferent enough towards me...that maybe the phone call was a step in the right direction....I'm afraid if I file suit, that she...especially her husband, will it their life long mission to hurt me with every chance they can. Input from anyone would be appreciated...has anyone else ever done this?
Cornflakes - I think your daughter clearly meant to call you but when you didn't pick up, she sort of freaked out and started questioning herself. I would give her some time. She seems to definitely be reaching out in very baby steps. I wouldn't pursue any court thing for visitation right now. I agree with njtea about increasing the distress.
You have waited 5 years. Hold tight a little longer and see if she tries to contact you again. That phone call, which I am sure was not a "wrong number" is hope.
Cornflakes! I am so happy to see you again. How are you doing? If I were you I would so persue your rights as grandparents, you are entitled to this and your grandchildren should know you! It is such a loss if they go through their lives without knowing what a loving grandmother they have/had.
Dear Garden: I am going to hold off and see what happens. The people I have spoken to agree with you...that it wasn't a mistake. But, I'm afraid to get my hopes up. It could be another five years...It might be never.
Anniebal: It was good hearing from you. How are things on your end? It's been a while. Any changes? Even though I haven't much to say, I've checked the web site frequently and have wondered how everyone is getting along.
I have read many of your posts here and have my own sad story to share. My only child (who we adopted at 2 months old) has dropped out of high school and left home to live with a boy 15 miles away. Her Dad and I gave her everything, love, attention and material things. She has now chosen this boy who is dirt poor and totally disrespectful to us. He doesn't work and they stay up all night and sleep all day. His grandparents who raised him are supporting both of them. It is a terrible situation. We hear from her once in awhile but our last contact was her boyfriend calling to tell me off with the use of extremely profane language because he was mad at something I said. This has been going on for four months now and I have think I have decided to take a break from even talking to he or my daughter. My daughter will never talk to me alone anyway, he always has to be there. I am so desperately sad and depressed. I have been seeing a good counselor and now am going to a psychiatrist to get my anxiety and depression meds adjusted to help me through this. I don't know how anyone gets through this. Her Dad and I loved (and still do) this child from the minute we saw her and we had no idea she was even dating this boy until the day she walked out with no notice and moved in with him. We are trying to get through every day one minute at a time. How does a kid walk out of a perfectly loving home with all the advantages and do this to herself and to us? How does anyone get through this?
It wasn't a mistake, Cornflakes. I, too, have received a couple of calls that my caller ID says are blocked, but I'm fairly certain they are from my daughter due to the times the calls are recorded.
Please think long and hard before you pursue visitation rights with your grandchildren. If your daughter and SIL are against it, it will only cause misery to all parties, children included.
I read your story above and am curious how things are going now. I believe you first wrote about it in April? What is going on with her now?
Cornflakes, I am as good as I'm going to be for a while I'm afraid. I was so concerned about you with everything that went on before you quit writing. I started an email to you, and just couldn't complete it, and I'm sorry I didn't contact you.
I hope you are feeling stronger now? You have certainly endured a great deal, especially in the last several months.
I know someone advised you not to go after the visitation rights to see your grandchildren, but my only concern with that is, is that you may never have a chance if you wait too long. I guess you need to ask yourself if the situation with your daughter and sil can get much worse? If the answer is no, then I'd go for visitation with the grandkids. Those kids should know you, and be able to come to their own conclusion about what type of person you are. They may end up being resentful to their mom and dad for not allowing you and your husband into their lives sooner.
My son has contacted us, but so far just phone calls. We refuse to continue this type of relationship, so there has to be some forward movement later this month. We've offered to pay for all of us to go to therapy, but were rejected. The rejection didn't surprise me, as I know my dil is afraid to confront a therapist and have that person tell her she needs to work on anything. I'm perfectly comfortable going to a therapist who neither one of us picked out, and hearing what he/she has to suggest regarding how we move forward. If the therapist states that I need to work on something, then I'd be happy to do so if it meant that the four of us could have a meaningful relationship (or at least the chance of one.) Even if it meant that we could only be cordial to one another, that would be a great improvement. My husband, who isn't for us going to a therapist since he is so angry, and believes they are almost completely at fault (with our mistakes being a reaction to their thoughtless behavior, which I agree with.)
My son must have had great difficulty telling me, since he didn't have the nerve to call and talk to me himself. He called my cell phone which he knows he stands a very good chance of me not answering. I only wish I'd been near it when he phoned.
I don't believe my dil has any intention of allowing him to have a relationship with us. I think she will continue to try and keep him away from us, hoping that he will quit caring.
We'll see what lays ahead in due time.
Anniebal - "hoping that he will quit caring" - that is such a scary but truthful line. I think about it every day. I am almost certain that the longer my son stays hating us with no contact to please his wife, the easier it will be for him to tell everyone he is an only child and his parents are dead. Scary stuff.
Is there anyone who posts in GW that has been in this situation and has had a successful re-connection with their "son"? It seems sons are less likely to reconnect with parents than daughters.
Annibal: I hate to hear that. I forgot, how long has it been now? It sounds like my husband and yours feel the same way in this situation. He wasn't like this initially, but in short time, he became very angry and when she phoned the other day, he seemed more annoyed by it, rather than thinking that she might have actually been calling to talk. I appreciate your concern. I'm going to a new therapist now, one that specializes in helping me get rid of this anxiety, as opposed to managing it through anti-depressants. I'm not taking them and I don't want to take them. I'm on a mild tranquilizer and have been for a long time, but would like to get off of it as well. Mother's Day was particularly difficult, this weekend isn't going to be easy either. We use to always enjoy the 4th as a family. I still picture my mother's face crushed in, laying in her blood. The doctor has assured me repeatedly that she was dead before she hit the floor. I miss her and Dad terribly, some days more than others. The same as I do my daughter. But you know what? I can better cope with their deaths, than with this abandonment. It's not that my daughter hates me...it's worse - it's that she's indifferent.
Cindijf: Your story touched my heart. I am so sorry. I think the most totally unselfish thing a person can do is adopt a child. I was adopted at birth and thank God I was! I don't know how a child can walk away from such a loving home. It sounds like you're just beginning this journey. Hopefully it won't be a long one.
garden60, yes it is a scary thing thinking that our sons will be away from us so long that they will quit caring. I know this is what my dil hopes will happen, I only hope she doesn't succeed or isn't right. Since my son is planning on a family soon, it will be very interesting to see how she handles a baby getting all the attention in place of her. Being narcisstic, this is going to be quite a roller coaster ride for my son I think, who naturally will have most to all of his attention on a new baby. I'm still hoping she doesn't get pregnant right away, and that there is time for him to come to his senses. I'm not even saying he has to leave her, but learn to deal with her control issues and put his foot down about continuing his relationship with his own family. I've heard that people with personality disorders can be dealt with (tho very difficult) once one recognizes the problem. There are many places on the net that give advice to someone learning to deal with this disorder. I know my sons loves her very much, so if he could just learn to control her (and not in the sense that she is controlling him,) then I think things could work out for all of us. However, she is very difficult and so controlling.
Cornflakes, I am so glad to hear that you found a new therapist and your working on your anxiety issue. Since anxiety and depression usually go hand in hand, there is a good chance that your anxiety was causing the depression. Good luck in quitting your medication.
I think your husband and mine are pretty typical of male reactions to such an estrangement. They are not as outwardly emotional, therefore they keep things in and I believe do get angry instead. However I know my hubby misses our son very much, and wishes he would get his wits about him. Who knows.
I can't imagine finding your mother the way you did, but you need to trust the dr. and what he is telling you. I am sure you mom did not suffer, she had already died, which lead to her collapse.
I agree we can move on from the deaths easier, and it has been stated as such in many of the books I've read. It is the fact that our loved one has chosen to not be with us, where as in death, almost no one makes that choice. It is a pain deeper then anyone can imagine (except those of us going through it) each day realizing we are still not reunited with our child. Thinking each day that anything could happen, and we may not be here for them. Realizing taht they don't understand this, or are ignoring the possibility. Our children are gambling with the future, and it could be a very high price they pay should they lose.
Cindijf, I too feel very badly for your situation. Since your daughter is so young, I still hold out much hope that she will mature and realize what she is doing is not right. Your daughter still has many growing pains to experience, and I believe in time, those pains will teach her what she is too young to realize right now. Keep the hope, as I believe she will be back.
I agree that nothing will be accomplished by pursuing the grandparents' rights to visitation. Being a cynic about attorneys, I am thinking that the attorney might have an interest in taking on such a case out of more interest in his own welfare than in yours. Because no matter what way it came out, no matter how much pain it caused you and your husband, he would earn money from it. I am sorry to be a cynic but I can't think of the attorney as being objective about it.
It's encouraging if your daughter did call you, even if she did not admit it or call again. There might be something going on that you know nothing about that will bring the estrangement to a resolution.
I hope that you are doing some good things for yourself that take your mind off of the pain.
I was in communication with my daughter for a few days but it did not go well. She was as hostile, derogatory, and obnoxious as she had been previously. So nothing had changed. I stopped the communication.
I was glad to see you on the board again, but hate that things remain the same for you as well. This is just horrible. I get to a point where I think I'm going to build a bridge and get on with my life...I do well for a while and then, I just laspe back into thinking about my daughter and grand daughter. They consume my thoughts and it seems no matter how hard I try, no matter what I do, my mind and heart always come back to them. Even if daughter were to miraciously come back into my life, things would never be the same. I wouldn't know who she was, who I was talking to and would be afraid to say or do anything. Just rambling...expression my feelings...hurt beyond belief.
I think about my daughter a lot too. Even though I accept that it is unlikely that we will be able to have a relationship again.
I've felt that hurt beyond belief feeling.
For me it helps to accept that this is the way things are. I am accepting that I will think about her even though we aren't in communication. There's no sense fighting it. The thinking just happens.
I have a lot to take care of in the rest of my life and that helps. So I am busy and I have to be busy because things won't get done unless I do them. This is good.
Is it horrible for me to wish bad things to happen to my daughter, in order for her to come back to her senses? Is it bad for me to wish my SIL would just leave her, lose his job...just all sorts of bad things to happen to him? Am I not entitled to be angry? Not to desire some type of ??? for a better lack of a word....revenge for the pain I've been put through? Does anyone struggle with anger over this?
You are not alone. I have so much hurt and depression that there are days I can't even function. I actually had to quit my job almost 3 years ago because I am a hospice nurse and I would get teary eyed everytime I saw an adult child treat their parent badly. I just wanted to knock some sense in them--Live is too short for this stupidness---why can't we all get along---I don't get it. I wish every minute of everyday that my son's GF woud break up with him and that he would lose his job---I just think he needs to be knocked down a few notches and relearn how to treat people ---especially the family that was there for him for his entire life until he met the GF. We did not raise him to be the selfish, uncaring person he has become. A few years with this girl seems to have erased every kind, selfless, empathetic bone in is body. I wonder everyday how he can life with himself. How will he feel if something happens to my husband, my 84 year old mother or myself---I get the impression since GF has to screen all communication--that he may not even know if anyone is sick or dying.
My 34 yr old son is Bi polar. there have been more than
20 suicide attempts. He stole my car once and was headed for the Grand Canyon to drive it off. He flew to LA when he was 14 and called me from LAX Airport. The list goes on and on. He is now doing life in prison. I have to work to
stay in his life. He has taken me off his vistors list many times over the past 16 years. I just wait until he realizes he needs me. He tries to manipulate me even from his prison cell. It worked for a while because I had so much guilt. It doesn't help that his older brother puts me out of his life on a regular basis. I feel like such a failure as a mother. I married and had children with the wrong man. I love them both with everything I have but after what I have been through I would never reccommend that people have children at all.We are not told how to be married or raise children correctly. I had nothing to go by. I just thought if I loved them enough it would be ok. I made so many mistakes.
It has helped me so much to read the stories on this website the last few days. I thought I was all alone.
Thanks to all of you.
It's been a long time since I've posted anything. However, I was just wondering if anyone else is out there? Ginny, how are things with your daughter?
Hey cornflakes! I'm still here, anyone else? How's everyone been the last few years? Updates? I really hope things have worked out for everyone.
My daughter got her own house and after two years realized how much work it was to keep up. Now she intermittenly speaks to us. We are on an 'off' period right now. She seems to be maturing, and we are not so much 'the bad guys' anymore, but still it's strained.
I think about you all from time to time and wonder how it's been with you. Check in and tell us your story, ok?