May 08, 2011,
C.B. asks from Garden Grove, CA on May 07, 2011
My adult daughter is angry at me but she won't tell me exactly what I did wrong. I don;t agree with my daughter and her husbands punishment methods but I don't say anything. My grandchildren are very close to me and they call me when they are upset or angry or worried and I listen to them. If it is something detrimental to them I discuss it with my daughter, if it isn't it stays with me.
There has been concern by my grandchildren because my daughter and her husband have been fighting more recently and that worries them. On Easter my eldest granddaughter was grounded and doing chores. The family was on their way out for the day and decided that my granddaughter wasn't doing the job requested fast enough or enough so they just left with the other kids (she is 16). This upset her and she (without prior knowledge) rode a bike two miles to my house.No one called me back or even let me know where they were. She spent the next 5 hours with me. Her parents picked her up without my knowledge, in fact she could not say good bye to me nor was she able to pick up her things. The next day she called me to apologize for not saying goodbye. She said she was out of school and asked me to bring her purse to school so she could get lunch, I did this. I needed to have lunch too so I took her (as I said she was already out of school for the day) the two blocks to get lunch and then took her back to campus where she was to meet her mother after her mother got off work.
I had e-mailed my daughter and asked her why they left her at home and told her that my granddaughter was very upset and I thought it wasn't nice to do that to her especially on a holiday. Please let me interject here that I always stick up for my daughter and her husband with the kids and am on my daughters side even though I don;t always agree with her and I have never said anything to my daughter regarding her parenting style, it is none of my business, but I was concerned and I guess it made her so angry that she answered my text with "you have no idea what you are talking about and you never back me up. Although I love you it's not always to do". This is devastating-she told me that if i wanted to see the kids I would have to call and make an appointment with her husband and only be allowed to see them in their home from now on with them present.
She has never called me to ask how I am, she only calls if she wants me to baby sit, and I never say no...no matter what I am doing I change my plans for her. When I am there I clean, do laundry help with projects even help her paint the walls if necessary! She did tell me a couple years ago that she always wanted to be a mom like me because I was always so supportive and loving and never judgmental. My kids have always been my top priority. I know my daughter and her husband are having issues and money is a problem, as well as dealing with four children and a teen daughter who is a great kid but likes to push her moms buttons as her mom pushed mine. My daughter said I didn't do her any favors by supporting her and sticking up for her when she did something wrong in school...she told me she will be changing her style of parenting now. I have been kicking myself wondering what I did to make her so angry at me. I have always been there for her, she could always count on me for anything, I would give her my last dime if necessary. She did not even call and wish me a happy Easter nor did she thank me for her Easter gift. Tomorrow is Mother's Day and I have plans with all of my other children and I sent her a card and a gift as I always do on special occasions, but I will be devastated if she doesn't at least call me with a mothers day wish.... This is really bothering me. I haven't spoken to her since Easter nor seen my grandchildren whom I miss terribly. My best friend told me to just leave it alone and give her space but how can I fix it if she wont talk to me? What should I do to make this better?
So What Happened?™
Thanks everyone for your answers, all of you were helpful and understanding, even as harsh as some things were to hear the fact that you really understood was awesome. Many of your things were different from my situation but the fact remains you are correct, I always want to "fix" things and make all OK for my children, not always possible. I did raise my children to know how to cook, clean, be responsible for themselves, etc. I guess because my kids have been my top priority (married and a mom at 17) and I have been so "available" it's difficult to hang back from what I have known for 37 years.
As much as I don't want to invade their privacy I still want to be involved with their lives. As far as my grandchildren are concerned I have never discussed their parents with them unless they bring it up and then I always tell them I am sorry they feel like they do but they have to listen to what their parents say and that I love them and will be there to listen. Thank you all so much for your quick response and wonderful suggestions, it is such a help knowing that you "get it". I will let you know if and when my daughter decides to talk to me. I will also let her know when she decides to let me talk
J.R. answers from Glens Falls on May 08, 2011
I have an adult daughter, too, and I would echo the other comments about the distance you have to maintain sometimes to convince them you are not interfering in their lives. In her early 20's, I still related to her as "mom", in her late 20's I tried to use a standard of "would I say this to a friend?" or "what would I do if this was a friend?". In her early 30's, when she was planning her wedding and was extremely emotional, I basically said nothing. I said "Oh" a lot with varying inflections. Like "oh, thats too bad" or "Oh! That's beautiful!" or Oh my, seriously?. I had to give up all opinions on anything for months (even if she asked for an opinion) and as the relationship got a little warmer, I've tip toed back to a little less than "friend" level on some things...slowly. Sometimes, it's hard to maintain relationships with adult children so I feel for you. But remember, you have to have reasonable boundaries, too, to protect you from being hurt. I don't think calling your SIL to set up appts is a reasonable boundary - that's demeaning - so hopefully at some point in the future this can be fixed.
In the circumstance with her teen, I can kind of understand where she is coming from. The teenage years can be very difficult and my daughter used to call her dad (we're divorced) whenever we argued or I tried to discipline her. It's pretty frustrating to be trying to keep a teen on a path when the teen has another adult they can run to who will reinforce that you're wrong or you're unfair (even by actions, I'm not implying that you actually said her parents were wrong). If I were you, I would lay low for awhile but I would ultimately apologize to her for becoming overly involved in the situation. Ask her to have lunch, clearly state your apology. Ask her advice on how she would have liked for you to handle the situation. Let her vent about what she feels you did wrong and nod your head a lot while you listen. Declare your strong intent to handle circumstances like this differently in the future (should they ever present again). If all that goes well tell her you understand their reaction in setting the boundaries that they did but it's very uncomfortable for you to call your SIL to set up appts and you're asking that they reconsider that based on your new understanding of their feelings which you will respect. And for awhile, (sorry) I would only see your grand daughter with them present at least until they regain trust that you are not undermining them. (My opinion would be different if you felt that the situation was abusive but you've stated that differing parenting styles is what we're dealing with here.) Enjoy your other kids today and I hope you hear from your daughter, but if you don't, don't lose hope! Don't try to support your position with your other kids though - if anything is said just say it was an unusual set of circumstances and I didn't know what to do and ended up using bad judgement so I hope she gives me another chance.
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G.T. answers from Modesto on May 07, 2011
Well, youre a mom and you want to "fix it" but she's a grown adult having some marital issues that are basically private until she decides to confide. I believe your friend gave you the right advice. Just leave it go and your daughter will talk to you when she's ready. In the meantime try not to meddle and come between your granddaughter and her mom. It wont be easy. Be there for your granddaughter to talk to, but don't overstep any boundaries.
While your daughter is having issues with her husband, rather than worry you with the stuff, she sounds as if she would appreciate the space, and also knows that her mom loves her unconditionally and can put up with with some lousy treatment for a time.
Enjoy the rest of your kids tomorrow, try not to gossip with the others and make your daughters issue bigger than it already is.
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A.C. answers from Jacksonville on May 08, 2011
Well, as someone who has had many issues with my own mother over the years, I think your daughter sounds like a spoiled brat. My sister and my mother butt heads all the time because she thinks my mom over-steps her boundaries with the grandkids. I tell her every time by asking for/accepting so much help from my mom (constant babysitting, running kids here and there, cooking, cleaning, etc.) she has blurred the lines between parent and grandparent.
My best advice would be (as hard as it is) to back off from helping so much. If they want to spend time with you, great...if they need a favor, you are busy. No bailing anyone out, no cleaning, if a grandkid runs to your house, you send them home. If your daughter asks you to babysit, you remind her of her rule that they must be present for you to see the kids. I bet she changes her tune real quick. My sister always gets up on her high horse, then climbs back down the moment reality sets back in. Yes, you need to adjust your boundaries, you are the grandparent, not the parent. But you are not the only one, your daughter must realize her part in this as well.
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M.P. answers from Portland on May 07, 2011
My daughter and I have had difficulties in the past that sound similar to what you're describing. Based on my experiences I would guess that in part you've become the target for frustration over how her life is going. She knows that you will love her no matter what.
I discovered over time that part of my daughter's difficulty with me is that I was too involved in her life. I, too, cleaned and helped with housework. She seemed to take my help for granted. She finally told me that it was her house and she didn't want me to do her housework. Now, a couple of years later, she will ask me for held and expresses appreciation. And I can ask if she wants help and she will say yes or no.
I learned to not get involved in anything unless she asked me to get involved. That was a very difficult transition for me. I'm a problem solver and helper. Helping came naturally for me. I learned that my always being ready and willing to help was keeping us from developing good boundaries.
I suggest that boundaries are an issue for you too because she is keeping away from you. That is the ultimate boundary and sometimes has to be done before two people can get back together in a healthier way.
I think I understand your pain. I felt rejected, unappreciated and unloved. You've tried to not say anything when you've been concerned. I suggest that much of this anger has built up over time because the two of you haven't talked about how you were feeling as you went along.
Perhaps now you feel angry because you tried so hard and it didn't work. And it feels like she'll never come around to share your love again.
There is hope. Both of you will work this out. I suggest she does need this space to discover who she is without you and you need the space to find a way to feel a part of her life without being so involved. You will rebuild your relationship based on honesty.
Honesty is difficult. We have to know when to talk about something and when to be quiet. You were right to not talk about her parenting style. It isn't your business. I suggest it's best to not ask questions based on your grandchildren's conversations with you. Their relationship with their mother is also none of your business. That was a really difficult lesson for me to learn.
And so I've become a listener mostly. Most of the time I see my daughter's and my grandchildren's conversations as a way for them to vent. I work at not getting involved in solving a problem, tho I'll make observations about how relationships work and how the child might do things differently if they ask for this information. I'll make suggestions to my daughter only if she asks me outright for my ideas. I present this information as ideas only.
Earlier I probably would've done the same as you did with your 16 yo granddaughter. Now, I hope that I would take her back home and tell her she has to do what her parent's told her to do. I would sympathize with her but I would also tell her this is something she has to work out with her mother.
I think the incident with your granddaughter is why your daughter is so angry. The fact that she wouldn't let your granddaughter say good bye or get her things tells me she was very angry then. And when you e-mailed her she became even more angry. It probably felt to her that you were interfering. And if she knows you took your granddaughter's purse to her and took her to lunch she would be even more angry. I suspect she knows because how else would your granddaughter get her purse. Your actions felt to her that you were supporting your granddaughter and not her. Because you asked in e-mail, she had only the words to figure out how you felt. I've found that it's best to not talk about potentially misunderstood things in writing because they are usually misunderstood.
Because of her anger she is overstating everything when she makes accusations. I learned in therapy that when someone says "you always" or "you never" it is their anger talking and is totally unrelated to how they would feel if they weren't angry.
You are hurting big time but you may have to wait until she calms down. She will eventually talk with you. In the old days, I would write to my daughter and apologize. She rarely accepted my apology nor did she mention it later when she did call to tell me to never do "that" again. I would then apologize in person and it was usually a beginning to our rebuilding our relationship.
I did feel better after having written the apology once I accepted that I was writing it for my benefit without expecting a response from her. I learned to not mention anything about how she hurt me. I would tell her that I loved her, missed her, and was hoping that we could get together again soon.
This, too, will pass tho I'm sure it doesn't feel like it. What is happening is a normal part of maintaining relationships as circumstances change. As you mentioned she is having difficulties that influence how she thinks of what you do and say.
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M.B. answers from Phoenix on May 08, 2011
For now, you can't make this better until your daughter's anger subsides, or when she gets over it. She's not going to talk until she is ready. I would just say back off a little bit and let them handle their affairs. I know it is hard to just stand by and watch when we know there is a better way of doing things.
Really, you just need to be there when they need you. Right now, your daughter is defensive against you. What ever it is that she thinks you have done wrong will only get worst if you do stay aside for a while.
Just trust that things will turn out for the best. In the meantime, do something fun for your self.
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E.M. answers from Honolulu on May 07, 2011
Sounds like you raised your daughter like my mom raised me, but just to be on the safe side, I will give an example of what my mom did in "going to bat" for me. I would do something wrong in school or make a mess of stuff and get a failing grade, but I never had to worry, because my mom was connected and as soon as I knew something was going on, I told her and she fixed it, I never had to learn HOW to fix anything. In fact she somehow did the same thing in college for me. Then I got married and well, I had NO life skills. Hubby didn't pick up on it at 1st, but with time, well it was very obvious that I was not up to speed. I didn't know how to handle money (mom handed me a credit card and car at 16!), schedule a doctors appointment (mom just told me when I needed to be there), or even how to wash dishes (Mom did them every night)! Sure I had GREAT and almost perfect grades in school, but without life skills that is worthless! Because of that am not as "nice" of a mom, I will not deny it, my 5 year old does dishes with me, the 3 year old sweeps with a cut down broom, the 1 year old, well he does hand me 1 piece of laundry to fold at a time...
Now it the above is all wrong the rest still applies.
Sounds like your daughter is being hard on her teen because she very likely feels she needs to learn the basics, though she might have taken it too extreme. She could feel you failed her in not teaching those things (even though she would have "hated" you for making her learn/do them as a kid/teen/young adult!) She could just be lashing out at you because you are a safe person to lash out at and because when the fighting gets really bad with your spouse you sometimes have to blame someone else. In that case it would be you, you are a safe person to lash out at because she knows you will not judge her and will always love her.
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S.M. answers from Kansas City on May 08, 2011
You don't have anything to fix. I'm not saying that you have done everything perfectly. I don't know that I would have done anything different than you have. What I do know is that your daughter is having a hard time and lashing out at you. She's looking hard for a place that things have gone wrong. More than likely her arguments with her husband stem almost entirely around the teen daughter. They are both in a bad place.
The hardest thing I've ever had to accept as a parent is that nothing I do or don't do will make my kids turn out the way I wanted them to. I have had to learn how to be happy for EVERYTHING they are as well as what they are not. I do love my kids and feel I was as non-judgmental as I could be. But I had strong ideas about how I felt they should order their lives. Your daughter is at the cross roads and it's only beginning. Don't you remember feeling this way? How many daughters did you raise? Teenage daughters are so HARD!
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L.G. answers from Eugene on May 08, 2011
Your daughter is married to an emotional batterer and has become like him. In most states a 16 year old can decide where to live. If she wants to live with you let her. It seems your daughter has issues with her daughter turning into an adult.
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