28 answers

My Adult Daughter Doesn't Seem to Need Me

How do I get my adult daughter to share the ups and downs of her life with me? I know that she's got a very busy life with a full time job, a beautiful 4 year old son and a great husband. I also know that there are days when she's just plain exhausted. I can relate to all of that. But what hurts me the most is that, rarely does she call me to just talk about what is going on...good or bad, happy or unhappy, joyful or sad. I feel that she doesn't need me. My daughter is very wise so I do not offer advice unless asked and I am always interested in whatever she does tell me about whether it's work or play or friends or family. I often tell her how proud I am of her and her decisions & that she's a great Mom. My question is...??? What am I doing wrong that makes her not call me to share things with? I know they often ignore phone calls (caller id) from grandparents, I've witnessed that. My husband and I leave messages just to say "hi...give us a call", which may be returned or not. Is it us, me or her? Don't know what to do. This past weekend after having left 2 messages, when she called back, I jokingly asked her if she was avoiding my calls. She got all defensive and hung up on me. Sometimes I only know whats going on if I read it on facebook. It hurts. Advice welcome.

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What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

The responses I've gotten from you all are great! Thank you. Just to relate a bid more, we live about 3 hours apart. I (we) visit bout once a month and during the summer months (when I'm not working), I'll go down and spend a week. Most of that time, the "kids" are working so I get to enjoy my grandson and help out with projects like painting, yardwork, etc. I love it and i know they appreciate it. I do have a full life...my husband and I are still working (thankfully!) and I volunteer my time as ombudsman for our local Coast Guard station and I am secretary and public affairs officer for the local CG Auxiliary flotilla. At any rate, I'd like to extend my thanks for all the good comments and advice. My Mom and I have a very good relationship. She is often one of the first people I call when there is something I'd like to share. It's hard to imagine that someday she won't be there so I'm very gratefull that I have her know and will cntinue to enjoy the conversations that we have...about once a week.

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I have 3 adult children - my biggest piece of advice is - LEARN TO TEXT! 90% of my interaction with my adult children is through texting. That is the "language" that young adults and teens speak. My daughter that has a child texts with me almost daily, but I know she refuses to answer her dad's calls and her grandma's because she "isn't in the mood to talk". I think things are just different than they were when we were young moms!

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Tension lies between what you have and what you want especially when they are so far from each other. As an adult she will not "need" you like you are expecting her too. If you have done your job as a mom right she will have friends and her husband to confide in or just be a very private person. How were you with your parents and grandparents? This may give you some insight into where she is in this matter. However I would encourage you to accept it as best you can.

Reduce your calls to perhaps every other weekend or something else even more reduced. It can be overwhelming to receive calls from one more person (even a mother) wanting anything from you.

In the meantime there are mentoring programs for girls where you could find fulfillment with someone who really wants to have that kind of relationship. You may want to check with your local child protective services agency to see what programs they are connected with or even check at your local church.

You see to be a caring person but need to have more contact with the outside world. Perhaps as you busy yourself with others that do need you like that your daughter's life will slow down enough to realize she "needs" her mother in some kind of way.

I hope this helps and I praying the best for you.

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You're pushing too hard, C.. It was wrong of her to hang up on you, but by calling and leaving those kind of messages enough that she feels guilty over it, she's getting defensive when you call her on what she's doing, even jokingly.

You've done a good job raising her to be independent and a mom. Now give her some space. If you don't bother her as much, she'll come around.

That being said, enjoy facebook. It's like being a fly on the wall, and that's okay. If you don't push on FB, you'll learn more. When they visit and you take pictures, you can put them on FB too so that she can see how proud you are of her and her family.

That being said, get more involved in other activities that will keep you busy so you won't have as much time to worry over it. Empty nest syndrome is tough, I am sure. (In 5 more years it will hit me.) And I'm sure my boys will be the same way.

All my best,

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It's not that she doesn't need you, she's just busy and exhausted. My parents guilt trip me about not calling, not visiting enough. Well, between working part-time, getting the kids to school and daycare, managing homework and all school and social activities, shuttling kids to after school activities, making dinner, cleaning up after dinner (husband is often not home because of working long hours so I do it all), doing bedtime, the only sliver of time I have for myself is at the very end of the day. I don't feel like talking. I bet you she's in the same boat.

My best advice is to be flexible. If she's on Facebook and seems to communicate well there, email her through Facebook to check in with short messages. Email works best for me because of my daily demands. I just don't have time to sit and chat with anyone, but can type at the computer for five minutes at the end of the day.

I don't think it's personal, she's probably just a busy mom. DON'T guilt trip her. I promise you that's the last thing she'll respond to when her plate is full already.

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I understand. I am a loving mom and I was a bratty daughter. I can tell you that my mom used guilt to keep us close. I hated it, resented it, I did not respond to it. I used to just grit my teeth and listen to her whine until I decided I was done. I avoided her calls because there was a 3 minute complaint and apology session every time. Then I just stopped calling her. I did feel so very guilty and still do. She's been gone 4 yrs now and I still have trouble forgiving myself.
What I have done differently with my very independant grown up daughter is give her space. Even though she's just across town, I drop little care packages, funny cards, stickers, glitter, whatever in the mail every now and then. Even just a gift card to Starbucks lets her know I am thinking about her. She gets a smile when she opens it and a smile when she uses it. i offer help quite often, but never insiuate that she needs it. I invite her regularly - no pressure - to do fun stuff that we both might like. I let the conversation flow natuarlly. I do ask about her frineds, her job, etc. I also use her chosen form of communication - texting! I text her what I'm doing and ask about her day. I avoid facebook spying unless invited. Everyone needs thier private space. So, if she says there are pics on fb, than I go get them. If she doesn't invite me to her fb, I avoid it and never never never comment on her wall or ask her about the things I see there. I've been told theses are serious breaches of mother daughter etiquette! It's a lot of work. I really try to stay connected and work on growing our relationship. With all relationships, you have to grow with them or you grow apart.
Theres a lot of room for misunderstandings, so I often tell her my motives - hey I really miss being needed and knowing what's going on in your life. Sorry if I'm getting on your nerves, but I love you more than Christmas.

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I'm sorry you're feeling so hurt. You know your daughter better than I do, but some people are just not sharers. My mom can call and say "How are you?" and I'll say fine even though all 3 kids have the flu and my husband and I had a fight and the toilet is backed up (ok, this never happened but I'm making a point :-))

I don't know why I'm like this but I guess I don't really see a point of burdening someone else with my problems especially since she's out of state and can't really help anyway. Sometimes when there's good news, like husband gets a promotion or we're taking a vacation or something I feel like I'm gloating about our success so I don't tell people about those things either.

If she doesn't answer your calls or hangs up on you if she feels threatened, maybe just write her a quick letter explaining how you feel. You could even send her what you wrote above. It doesn't have to be angry or a guilt trip just very matter of factly tell her that you'd love for her to talk to you whenever she can just to keep you in the loop. I'm sure she's not doing this to hurt you it's just that she's busy and sometimes we just take for granted that our loved ones will always be there.

Good luck,

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It sounds, from reading your post, as if you are a little hung up on your daughter (pun intended). :) I am also a grown adult woman, who has what I consider to be a very normal relationship with my mother. My mother lives 5 hours or so away from me, and has since I moved out in college. If she were to call me twice in one weekend just to say "hi...give us a call" I would think 1) that there is something really wrong/important and she doesn't want to say it on a message machine; 2) she is having the beginning stages of dementia and doesn't realize she called already when she made the 2nd call; or 3) both 1 & 2. But that is me and my mom. What is your relationship with your daughter like?

Do you have your own full life, or do you live to hear about your daughter's? Do you or have you always spoken by phone multiple times during the week just to chat it up without something specific to discuss (like travel plans or an upcoming event)? When you have witnessed her ignoring calls, have you considered the circumstances (they had guests: you)? Do you call during the dinner hour (or the time when she is trying to prepare it), or when she is just getting home, or when she is trying to get the 4 yr old ready for bed, etc...

There is a lot of information that you did not include in your post, and I suspect it is because you don't HAVE that information. Maybe you should ask your daughter if you are calling too often or seem "needy" to her. Maybe your daughter IS very busy and doesn't have a lot of alone time with her hubby. With a small kid, a full time job, and a great husband, alone time with him is probably a highly prized commodity. Or alone time (just her) might be what she is trying to keep.

Just some thoughts that may help you see it from a different perspective.

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Yikes.. She sounds like a young mom with a very busy life.

You sound like a wonderful mom. You remind me of my mom.. Many times, she would call or email and I just really did not have time to answer, when I did it was very late at night or extermely early in the morning. I worked retail so I could not take calls during the day. When I was a store manager it was worse, because I was there 12 to 14 hours a day. I barely had time to see my husband and daughter..

I made a deal with my mom. I told her loved her and missed her. That I was thinking about her, but to please try not to put any pressure on me, because I already had enough just trying to get through the week.

She told me not to worry about her, just to once a week send her an email saying we were alive and well. She also said if we EVER needed anything or any help, she was there. That we should not feel any guilt about only calling when we need something. Boy did that give me peace of mind and heart. My husband and I did start calling on her a little more for help. Sometimes, she would call my husband and offer to pick up our daughter and meet him at the house so he could feed her and get her ready for bed, while my mom prepared dinner. Sometimes, she would be there when I got home, but most of the time not..

My mother also ALWAYS had an open door policy. If we ever wanted to see her, she pretty much dropped what she was doing so we could go and see her. I hated that a few times, she canceled going out with friends, but she said she would rather see us than them.. Mind you, this only lasted for about 2 years, then once our daughter started kindergarten, our schedules were a little more settled and out daughter did not need all of that physical care..

Send her a funny card. Let her know you love her and do not want to add any pressure to her or take time away from her family but that you miss her and any time she wants to call or see you, you will be there.

Let her know some of the struggles you had as a young mom with a young family.. Offer the services you are willing to provide.. Meet the service people at their home. Pick up daughter from day care. Watch daughter every Friday or Saturday night so they can have date night, but promise her you do not want her to feel like she has to respond all of the time, just a few updates, every once in a while on her time to let you know they are still alive and healthy. ..

I am sending you strength. You sounnd wonderful.

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I have adult children too and it does hurt. The thing is we did our best to make them independent and it is actually healthy that they don't need us. We did our jobs in raising them to take care of themselves, right?

I am learning my place in my children's lives as well, but I do feel my expectations are bit lower than yours. If my kids check in every week or two then I think I am doing fine. However, at the advice of a friend I did have a talk with one of my kids lately because my husband and I were feeling a bit ignored. It helped. This is sort of what I said.

"Besides being your Mom I am a woman with feelings and wants. You have a busy life now, I have a busy life too. But I love you very much and I would like to ask you to be willing to schedule time for me. I like to share what is going on in our lives."

I'm not sure what your expectations are C., but I do think we are allowed to ask to be part of our children's lives as long as we aren't invasive. Plus we don't want to be an added burden to their already busy lives. So......if you could schedule a call or a lunch date or a family dinner once in awhile maybe that would help you feel part of your daughters life. But keep in mind it is a good thing that she doesn't "need" you.

I believe Mom's like you and I should do our best to create a life of our own where we don't need our kids either. We want them. We love them and absolutely want to share with them. Offer yourself as a babysitter if you haven't already.

Also I would recommend avoiding criticizing overtly, or quietly. The teaching days are gone in regard to our kids. I suggest not offering too much advice, unless you are directly asked. Or if you feel you really want to, then ask permission before giving it. I know I didn't want my Mom giving free advice, no matter how good it was. I wanted to figure out things on my own as an adult.

One more thing. That your daughter hung up on you under the situation you described I am wondering what else is going on. My guess is there was a critical undertone to the conversation to begin with unless your daughter was just having a terribly stressful day. Be honest with yourself, were you quietly chastising your daughter? I think it's better to tell your daughter how you feel rather than point your finger, and then be realistic with expectations.

I hope I didn't make any assumptions to your situation. I hope this helps. I know I am still struggling knowing my place with my kids. I think this will be an ongoing adventure as we age.


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