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,
D.

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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,
K.

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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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C.,
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.

Best!

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First of all, I would like to congradulate you on raising a well adjustest, well prepared, independant daughter. It looks like you did a fantastic job giving her the life skills she needs. Give yourself some kudos for doing that.

Now, the hard part. Give you daughter a little space. You have let her know that you are there for her and that you love her and she knows it. So wait it out and let her come to you if she wants to discuss things with you. It may be hard.

Also, facebook is a way to connect. So use it. Just be sure to give her some space.

Consider that her exaustion and lack of calling might make her feel guilty; especially knowing how important it is to you. That guilt might be getting in the way, and the more you call, the guiltier she feels and the more she pushes it off. Or, perhaps not. Just try to look at it from another perspective and be patient.

Hang in there.

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Im sorry your daughter hung up on you--that is rude. I can tell you there are times I call my mom to say hi and it ends up in an hour long conversation about nothing. I dont have the time to be on the phone for an hour. Personally I hate the phone and usually dont answer it. If you are close enough to her maybe suggest going out for a bite to eat or a movie. Maybe she just needs a break and is feeling a little overwhelmed.

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...Judging by her reaction to you, ie: defensiveness and then hanging up the phone on you... I would say, that yes, she was avoiding your calls.

next, sure she may be busy and exhausted as you said... but that is no excuse. AND she has lots of time to update her Facebook and go on it. So she can't be SO busy that a simple phone call is too much trouble or time.

Next, many offspring, once the have their own lives/family... they 'forget' their parents. Don't call. Don't write. And act like the parents/the Grandparents are irritating.

I have a sibling like that. SO busy. SO busy with life and family. SO many responsibilities etc. But really, everyone is like that. She is no different.
BUT, for my sibling... even when my Dad was ill... she spent NO extra 'quality time' on him or with him. She said, she was "too busy...." Then, my Dad died. And guess what? She, ONLY then, fully 'regretted' being SOOOOO busy... and that that took priority over her Dad.

It was a real rude and sad lesson for her. About life. About appreciating family.
She, used to do to my Dad, EXACTLY what your daughter is doing to you... and she'd complain to me about how 'irritating' our Mom & Dad were with their calls and just wanting to chit-chat.
My sibling.. would do ANYTHING, if she could just chit-chat with my late Dad, now. Because, she misses him... and its too late.

...for you, Live your life. And have total fun doing it. Don't bother, with calling her... or for any holiday Dinners etc. Because, that will be met with 'irritation' or avoidance too. And some adult kids... always treat their Parents like they are such a 'burden.' It is sad.

Or... you just tell her what you have told us here. Print out your Post AND the responses. Then show it to her.

all the best,
Susan

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It's great to get news, but it's great to give news, too! When my mom was traveling after she retired, I couldn't always call her when I wanted to, but we got lot's of post cards. Find an interesting activity or hobby that keeps you busy, and don't be always waiting for your daughter to give you a call. A message from you saying "I've joined a bowling league! My schedule's hectic, but it's a lot of fun! Talk to you later!" every so often and she'll be calling you asking what's going on. She's busy and her plate is full, and there are days after chit chat at the office, with parents/teachers at school, and more with parents at my son's activities have me chit chatted out. Some days I want to make dinner, clean up, go to bed and read a book for some quiet time and picking up a phone is the last thing on my mind. Be there for her, but don't be waiting on her.

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Why don't you invite them over for Sunday's lunch (if you live close, that is). If she's tired she'll welcome not having to cook and you'll spend some quality time together. Also offer to run errands with her when child is along, I would have liked that...Go to movies together. Go to farmer's market together, go to flea market together...just excuses to be together. Life goes fast and you'll not be around forever (sorry if I mention that!), so, since your daughter is busy NOW, it could be a good idea to share her busy-ness with her. It sounds like your lves run at two different speeds and that's normal for two women at a very different stages of their lives. If you can't think of anything wrong between the two of you, then it's just life happening. Good luck.

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At this point, she shouldn't need you in most ways. She is an adult now. She will choose what and how she communicates with you. I know you desire more then that, but she has a life outside her parents. That is healthy. I am a lot like you daughter. I am married with a child now and we deal with things within our own family. I simply don't desire t tell my mom everything, I am not a teenager anymore. Both of my sisters tell my mom everything and run to my mom, at the slightest hiccup. They have grown into needy adults, who can't make decisions on their own and are creating VERY needy children. She probably isn't avoiding your calls. I know I don't always answer the phone when my mom calls, if I am busy, or trying to focus on something else. I know a conversation is not short with my mom and I call her back when I have enough time to spend on the phone. My mom used to ask me question after question, about wanting to know what's going on in my life. I finally had to tell her, that if there was something she needed to know, I would never hesitate to tell her. (I was more kind and gentle then that phrasing.) Your daughter simply doesn't need you, in the way you want her to. That is a good thing. She might be feeling pressured by you.

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Sounds weird. But try not to take it personally.
I don't call my folks much, but I send periodic emails to let them know what is going on--just a few sentences.
You shouldn't think you are doing anything wrong. She may be just busy, tired, stressed, afraid of disapproval or guilt (this may be unjustified). Or maybe she is just private.

Anyway, don't blame yourself. Things may get better.

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Dear Mama, She is married now with a family. Yes, it is nice when you get to talk to her. But, don't put a guilt trip on her about not calling, or waiting too long for your tastes to call. That can be so frustrating! Give her some space. Your relationship is different now. She should be sharing those things primarily with her husband, not you. So, perhaps that is what she is doing. I know a mother who used to threaten to call the police if her children didn't call her back within a certain amount of time if she hadn't heard from them. She said it was because she was worried that something had happened to them, but it sounds more like manipulation to me. (No, my mom did not do this to me!) I find that emails work best for me and my mom though. She sends me emails and I send her emails. We rarely talk on the phone (I am NOT a phone person.). We get to share our lives with each other, but are able to do it on our own terms and time schedule. Maybe that would work for you, too.

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HHmmmm, I'M an adult daughter too who doesn't call my mother enough. And I'm a SAHM and my kids are older, I am not that busy or tired anymore. I have a good relationship with my Mom, but I'm not a phone talker and never was. She used to come once a week to dinner which was wonderful, but she is getting older and I've moved slightly farther away and she does not like the drive. I cannot go 'visit' at her house as she is very embarassed that she cannot keep up with her housework (too many sick cats and arthritis), so it makes her uncomfortable when I'm there. I DO go to help her frequently but it's always for a specific purpose, like cutting the grass, putting AC in the window, running errands, etc. Like the previous poster I would be communicating with her constantly if she would use her computer or cell phone (really all day I am talking with other family members via facebook, email, or texting). I don't avoid her calls but do groan a little since I know I will be on the phone for a long time, which I hate. I would say, I know it's an age old problem for one generation to shun the next generation's means of communicating, but I wish my MOM would further embrace the electonics available to her to talk to her kids, so maybe that's your answer! Good Luck (think I'll go call my mom now, tehehe).

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I love my mom to death, but i rarley tell her what's going on with me, good or bad, unless it's a MAJOR good i don't tell her anything negative so that she doesn't worry. You're not the only mom experiencing this. Could it be that you're having a hard time with "empty nest syndrome....belated?" like you said she's smart so just let it be for now, hun i don't talk to my mom but once a month for about 20-30 min at a time, i havn't seen her in almost a year and i'm only 15 miles from her. Don't feel hurt by this. just give her her time and space and she'll come back.

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Oh my, I see your pain. Did you have an argument in the past that was not resolved that you could think of. You might want to write her a letter expressing what you just mentioned here and see if you get a response. State only how YOU feel and what you want, not point finger or blame, because that would only make it worse. I don't see why she would hang up on you after you jokingly asked if she was avoiding your calls. Maybe there's a communication issue going on. For her to avoid grandparents, there must be something she is not telling you. Sit down and talk to her about it. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

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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What a thankless thoughtless and unappreciative young woman. I speak from experience.
at this point, NO ONE but God can change her. She is what and who she is going to be for the rest of her life. Her 'ways' can be tweaked but its doubtful it will come from you. She wouldn't dare let that happen. Still, moms don't give up. BUT don't push too hard or you WILL PUSH HER AWAY and then you will feel even worse.
I would seriously consider a new hobby if it were me. Pray pray pray pray and do your best to live YOUR LIFE IN A WAY THAT BRINGS YOU A SENSE OF PRIDE. ESP WHEN FACING ADVERSITY BY THE INSOLENCE OF someone who should be loving you UNCONDITIONALLY for you are MOM!
don't give up EVER tho, but don't smother her either. You seem to have a good clear head on your shoulders.
I know this sounds harsh and that's because it is INDEED harsh. Far WORSE than they could imagine.
I hope things work out for you.....
sometimes things DONT work out so be prepared.
I can't stand the bandaid of "everything happens for a reason." That's not at all true.
SOMETIMES...
ya know- THINGS HAPPEN. AND THEY SUCK. And nothing ever REALLY CHANGES. Hoping for the best still for you.
I tend to repeat this one often. as if WILLING it to happen(I wish) as follows:
"and this too shall pass."
Good luck,
P.

How was your relationship when she was growing up? Your relationship with your daughter now sounds a lot like the one I have with my mom. We had a horrible relationship when I was growing up and now she seems to think I need to call her for every little thing and tell her everything. It wasn't at all like that when I was younger so why would it change now. I am a strong independent women who has a great marriage and a wonderful child but my mom is not my friend and I don't feel the need to share every detail of my life with her. Sorry to sound harsh. On the flip side my SILs have a best friend relationship with their mother and speak daily about everything but their relationship growing up was quite different from my own.

I am dealing with the same situation.

Wow, Mom you did a great job at raising a very independent young woman who makes great decisions. Kudos to you. Do you realize how momentous that is. But, Mom I think its time for your to redefine your parenting role. before she did need you and now she doesn't need you as much. But your kids always need you. Start enjoying your life and getting involved with other people.
This is a good time for vacations, new house plans..refocusing the attention from parenting to something else. My kids are gone except one (he's 21). I have been involved in theatre, painting and just catching up on juicy gossip over coffee. You did your job Mom, relax.

I don't like talking on the phone either. I go to school full time and work full time. The whole entire weekend is eaten up with homework and housework. My mom is in the same boat you're in. I just wish she would understand that I want to spend TIME with me. She is unwilling to meet with me alone ONE Sunday afternoon a month for lunch. I feel guilty because I had a much closer relationship with my dad than with her. He's gone and I miss him so much. I just want for my mother to quit hounding me about calling her and spend some time with me.

I feel for you. I myself have gone though something like this & it hurts. My daught is 41 & still thinks that I am a bad grandmother she even told my grandson that I was dead so thats why here cant see me.It all seemed to take place after my devorce. She was in college & was taking sides when she needed something & I told her dont play games with me & your father. So maybe she resents me for that so she couldnt get what she wanted from me I dont know.Still to this day I cant figure it out .I would love to be in my daughts life but she keeps bushing me away so I dont bother anymore. I figure if she wants me this time she is going to have to come around to me & then on my terms. I am getting to old for these kind of games .I just dont trust her anymore & I know thats not a nice thing to say. What really got me is when I drove all the way to Miss. from N.Y. & when I got there I cleaned her house for her & she was on the computer telling everyone that she has a maid cleaning her house & they ask who it was & she said its my mom I almost fell over & went to the bathroom & cried but didnt let her know because I wanted to see my grandson at that time.By the next day she started to pick a fight with me & get me all up set so I decided to leave & she wouldnt give me my car keys or my purse & I told my grandson to call his father & she wouldnt let him. After ten mins. she gave them to me & thats when she told my grandson that I dead. She has everything that she could think of . Her husband is in the service & she travels alot. I do think that the one thing that she is missing is LOVE & wont let anyone get close to her. I hope that someone out there can relate to this because I have been holding it in for many years & just for me to write about this for someone to read has helped me to get it out. Advice welcome.

My daughter is the same, she never answers my calls and after several attempts I finally asked her via text, which is the only way she may respond to me, and was on the defensive about how busy she is. I know she's busy, she has 2 small kids but I would love her to share their day to day life but she's shut me out. I was a good mom. did everything for her and respected her and now she disrespects me. I've cried about this, read books, talked to counselors and they seem to think I should just let it go because it's her issue not mine but that is really hard to do. I'm 60 and I have to go the rest of my life like this. It hurts. I have a son who responds to me all the time and 2 younger daughters that don't ignore me. She doesn't even answer when I call to wish her Happy Birthday which was this month.

I would LOVE to know the answer to this. My daughter is acting the same way. She is 19 and in her sophomore year in college. It was always just the three of us for so many years (me and my two daughters). I feel dumped.....

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