My Adult Daughter's Relationship with Me.

Updated on September 03, 2012
K.P. asks from Salt Lake City, UT
24 answers

My oldest daughter who is 36 has had a very close relationship me but she is also very selfcentered and nasty if I do something to upset her. On this go around I asked her some questions about going out of town right after she got a new job. She has a daughter that is 9 my grandaughter who we love very much and are very close to. My daughter is divorced and has made some bad choices in her adulthood.
I sent her a letter about what my feelings were on how she treats me and talks to me. She did not answer and did not call. She is saying things to me like You were lucky you got to come an Ashtyn's birthday. She screams at me all the time we are on the phone when we are having a disagreement. She is now starting to threaten me using my grandaughter and saying If I don't watch it I won't be seeing Ashtyn. There is so much more detail but its' taking up too much room. Help I hate being in a fight with her but I also hate how she is treating me.

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answers from Boston on

If she is treating her own mom this way. Imagine how she treats her daughter!! I know this will be hard for you but until she either gets help or stops her harsh ways with you. I would stay clear of her. Sounds like she needs tough love from you. Good luck!

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answers from Casper on

If she intends on using Ashtyn as a punishment or reward, I would cut her short. As much as it pains you to not see your granddaughter, it would be better for her if she didn't have the struggle between being allowed to see grandma and not being allowed to see grandma. Hang up on her when she screams.

Show up if you're invited to a birthday party, but otherwise distance yourself. If Ashtyn comes to visit, keep it happy and upbeat, but invite your daughter to leave your home if she gets out of control. Simply tell her "you may come again when you act nicely."

Your daughter may have issues with you as a grandma, mother, etc. but that does not excuse her behavior. If she has a problem she needs to communicate it with more love if not diplomacy.

Remember you don't have to be in a fight.

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answers from Detroit on

Hi K.,

If I were you and my daughter started screaming or cussing at me, I'd hang up the phone. Do not allow yourself to be abused. You are her mother and deserve respect. She has to know that you have boundaries. She may not always agree with you or you with her, but both of you need to learn boundaries. Mother and daughter relationships can be a whole lot of drama sometimes. My mom is 84 years old and I'm 41. I also have a "second" mother, my sister who is 63. Although my mom and sister are close to me, they both can easily get under my skin and I too can get under theirs too. My mother is awesome and we rarely argue, but my sister and I have had some very nasty fights in the past. I've learned in my 30's from my husband that when my sister and I fight: It takes two to tango--be the bigger person and walk away if you don't want a war. I stay away for awhile, let her cool down. Is she wrong sometimes--yes, but I know I too can be wrong. There are certain issues I avoid discussing with her because I know they will set her off. I also know and am fully aware not to overstep my boundaries about certain things---and in time she comes around, so it works. I live by this philosophy when it comes to these two relationships: Love is about forgiveness--forgive and forget the bad times, learn from them and then move on while trying to do better the next time around.

I hope things get better for you:)


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answers from New York on

My mom passed away 3 weeks before my oldest daughter was born and there isn't a day that I don't wish she could be here to see even just a little something. My heart goes out to you because it seems like you are the "catch-all" of your daughters anger & frustration which is pretty sad. It blows my mind when I see or hear some people with the way they disrespect their mothers and I will admit that I wasn't always the easiest person to get along with, and I'm still not but I knew how far I could push things with my mother and I don't think I ever really went that far past that line. It sounds like your daughter may be feeling all of what she has done up to this point and rather then asking for you to help her sort it out, she is lashing out at you. Maybe if you try telling her that you are there to help her discuss things but that you won't allow her to treat you like you are the one that has caused all of this. As far as her using your grandaughter as leverage, I know someone who plays the same game and it's a horrible game. Good luck with all of this.

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answers from Boston on

If she is treating her own mom this way. Imagine how she treats her daughter!! I know this will be hard for you but until she either gets help or stops her harsh ways with you. I would stay clear of her. Sounds like she needs tough love from you. Good luck!

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answers from Richmond on

Ugh, I'm that daughter... well, not to that extent but I know I'm a real b!tch to my mom sometimes. We had a VERY strained relationship for years and years and didn't even begin to mend things until I had children of my own. Coming from her side of things, I would say that your letter really hit home for her, and she know's she's being hurtful and hateful. Personally, my mother did the same thing and I initially reacted about the same way because, although it took a while to admit, she was right and I was ashamed and embarrassed but too damn stubborn to admit it. You've said your peace, and as long as you've told her how much you love and care about her, the decision to continue to mend the mother-daughter relationship now rests on her shoulders. I came around because I did recognize that while my mother will ALWAYS make me want to rip my hair out, that's just how she is, and not matter what, SHE'LL ALWAYS BE MY MOTHER. My mom is a very negative person and is always out to bring someone else down with her... and all I can do is brush off her negativity and choose, as an adult, to maintain an adult relationship with her. It's so wrong of your daughter to threaten you with not being able to see your grandbaby, but she knows that that is what is going to hurt you the most. This is one of those inner battles she is fighting with herself, and she is the only one who can fix that. She needs to grow up and be more adult about your relationship, and your relationship with your daughter. I hope she comes to this realization sooner rather than later. Life's too short for petty arguements like this, when you had the best intentions. Best wishes!

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answers from Chicago on

I am afraid to say this as I am similar to you. I do not want to lose those I love. But it is funny how if you stand your ground, do not be available for her, people seem to change when we do. Surely your grandaughter is being treated terribly her, too and you can set an example to her that human beings need not be treated like this. Your grandaughter loves you I am sure and you can be available for her. Call her often. If mom blocks the phone calls, write her a letter. You use the computer so email her. Go around Mom. Ashtyn is nine years old and probably knows how selfish her mom can be. I have the most selfish sister who reminds me of your daughter. Funny though she can make her husband and boys jump just by being her b------ self. I was always like you and would look at her in amazement that people seem to be afraid of her and do her bidding. Do not be afraid of your daughter you are on higher terms than her. I am sure I could talk to you for hours about this and please vent, vent to us. She is emotionally blackmailing you. Do not permit her to do this.

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answers from Sacramento on

You should hate how she is treating you because it isn't acceptable. By holding your granddaughter over your head like a carrot she is exerting her control in the relationship and until you deal with that she will continue to control and manipulate you. As hard as it may be for you, you have to stand up to your daughter and be mom again even if that means not communicating with her unless she speaks to you civally. Give her YOUR terms and conditions (the same ones any adult relationship would have-no screaming or disrespectful behavior) and if she doesn't meet them tell her not to contact you until she can stop acting like a teenager and start behaving like an adult.

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answers from Tulsa on

Hi K.,

You may not like my solution for your situation. I'm a peacemaker, it's the way I was born, and I don't deal well with confrontation. But I do know how to smooth over people problems. I'd like to make it clear here that I do not condone the behavior of your daughter. Placing your grand-daughter in the middle is unexcusable. My mother and my grandmother could hardly stand the sight of each other. When we were all together there always was an underlying tension. And each were vocal about the other to the four of us girls. We were stuck in the middle, sometimes blamed ourselves, and had to walk on egg shells when mentioning one to the other. Don't let this happen to your grand-daughter.

First, it probably wasn't the best move to write your letter to your daughter. If you had issues it would have been better to face her in person. A lot of things can be said with body language and the tone of your voice that simply doesn't come through in a letter. But that point is moot. You did it and now how to fix it.

If writing is your forte then another letter, this time one of praise and an appology, wouldn't be out of the question. Address the issues that are already in the open...don't bring up any new ones. Offer words of encouragement, love, respect and wisdom. But this is not the best solution.

The best way to handle this, IMHO, is to have a talk with her. One on one. No one else around. The cell phones turned off. Set ground rules to begin, no shouting, no calling names, no blaming, really listening to the other person. Both of you should agree to the terms.

Once this has happened then you need to bring up the letter and expand on what was said. Make sure she knows that this is coming from your heart. Let her know if your feelings have been hurt. DON"T accuse, belittle or blame her. Accept the blame for your part in this misunderstanding. Have a list of possible solutions written down so that both of you can go over them and choose what will work for you both.

Not only is your relationship with your grand-daughter on the line here, but the one with your daughter too. Forgive her mistakes, love her unconditionally, praise her often, be a positive aspect of her life and respect her right to making her own decisions and mistakes. You completed your job of raising her years ago...let it go.

When my daughter, now 29, left home for the first time I gave her a present. I had cut the apron strings off my favorite apron and had them framed. She gave me a puzzled look. I then explained the phrase "tied to your mother's apron strings" (—Idiom:.tie to someone's apron strings, to make or be dependent on or dominated by someone: He has never married because he's tied to his mother's apron strings. Origin: 1535–45). My gift symbolized her freedom as she became an adult...I'd always be there for her...but I would untie those apron strings and let her journey into adulthood be untethered. Have you untied those apron strings?

Good luck and God bless.

W. Q

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answers from Cleveland on

I feel for you. I have had the same problem with my oldest daughter. She is very rude. The last time it happened, she started to get mad at me because I haven't watched her son overnight so she could go out and get drunk with her husband. I have a little boy as well, and it just is not something I would want him to see, (her drunk) besides, I don't want him to lose sleep. I taught her differently and I dont know why she is like she is. She has gone her own way and is very controlling. Anyways, the last time I just told her what I felt, and left it at that. I didn't play into her control game. Apparently, she thought I would just get all upset and react. That way I would be watching my grandson over night. I didnt. I just told her she was not right and didn't call her any more.She tried to convince me to watch him by telling me that I wasnt spending enough time with him and I was hurting his and my relationship, he by the way is one years old. Because I didnt play along and get upset, She appologized a few days later. I don't know if that will help you in anyway, but I found that when I argue back at her about things it just gets worse. I am not saying you do, I really don't know, but I did at one time, and stopped. That really helped me. I hope this works out for you, and remember, it's not your fault. Try not to blame yourself, That's the trap I fell into.

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answers from Lafayette on

Most people do not want to hear about their bad choices. Maybe you think they were bad and she doesn't. At any rate, they are in the past, and what you both should focus on is the future. Ashlyn needs you to be in her future, so the way to do that is to try to find a way to calm the tension with your daughter. Focus on the positives, and do not allow her to get in screaming fits with you. Hang up the phone. Agree to disagree. Ask yourself whether it will matter in ten years. If not, drop it. My mother used to say "Build bridges, not walls".

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answers from Salt Lake City on

First, I'm sorry that your relationship with your daughter is such a difficult one right now. I'm sorry that it is causing you pain. I offer what follows not as a critique (I don't know your situation at all and it would not be my place to speak for or against either of you), but rather as an example of how you might be able to approach a difficult relationship. Here's what has helped me.

I am the daughter in a difficult mother-daughter relationship, and some years ago now I came to what turned out to be a revolutionary conclusion - I cannot fix my mother's behavior. The only person whose behavior I can control is my own. So I stopped (or at least tried to stop - I am human, after all) trying to "fix" what I perceived as my mom's problems and focused on the part I could control - my behavior toward her. Things like not letting her draw me into arguments. Not worrying about being right. Being courteous even when in my own opinion she was not. But also not allowing her to usurp my authority in my own house.

I also stopped trying to please her, since in her particular case, trying to do so is an exercise in endless frustration. I listen when she offers her opinions, but I do not necessarily follow them - I have strong beliefs of my own, and they do not always match hers. But I don't argue with her about them any more. I thank her for her input, and then I make my own decisions. And even when she annoys the living daylights out of me, I still make sure that I tell her I love her. Life is too short to do anything else.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

I'm sure this situation is much more complicated (and, of course, you write that it is). If the problem were mine, I would do two things: (1) seek the advice of a professional, and (2) let her problems be HER problems and not mine.

If a man acted towards your daughter the way your daughter acts toward you, what would your advice be? If any neighbor or friend were having this sort of problem, what would you say (if asked)? The behavior is clearly unacceptable.

Adult children are accountable for their own acts, so there's not a lot you can do about her. You've expressed your feelings, and she has responded, and now you need to decide what to do about you.

I really recommend that you talk to a counselor about this because I'm thinking other questions: how does she treat your granddaughter? Is she on drugs, or anything else? If there is abusive treatment toward a child, something needs to be done. But it will need to be done professionally and coolly, and not in retaliation - I think you know what I mean.

On the other hand, if your daughter is just hateful against you, that's still a very difficult problem, and you are too valuable a person to be treated in such a way time and again.

If it will make you feel any better (but this doesn't negate anything I've written above), people who behave that way are often taking out their emotions on you for reasons that have nothing to do with YOU.



answers from Provo on

Look all you can do it love your daughter. She is an adult and her choices are her choices. You are her Mom and you need to pick her up when she is down and not make it worse by telling her how you feel. It sounds to me that your daughter has a red personailty which relates to fire. Fire can be your best friend. It can cook your food, it can keep you arm and it can give you light but it can also burn your house down and scare you for life. Make sure you let your daughter know you are sorry and you love her and want to be there for her and No Matter what You will be there for her and support her in her choices (even though you may not agree with them) Do not push her away because you will get burned and so will that cute grand daughter. Family is first.



answers from Minneapolis on

I have a daughter just like that. I have to be very careful what I say as not to upset her. If I don't do what she wants, she takes the grandkids away, I am not allowed to e-mail, phone, or write. This has happened 5 times and it usually lasts for about 6 months. This last time she told her brother that I was dead to her. I now feel that I have had enough and really don't care if she comes back because it will happen again. I really hurts that I can not see the kids as I love them so much.


answers from Peoria on

I am ss for you , my daughter also is disrespectful to me, sometimes when she has a problem she cant handle she calls me in a rage. I am certain it is the influence from the friends around her. She compromises her choices because she has some kind of fear to be alone...for whatever reasons. Be strong, guard the relationship you have with your husband and dont let her attack that too. I share your awful suffocating pain of this destructive relationship. YOU and your husband need to go talk to someone that has a degree in counseling so you both can cope with this situation that might not change.

I have a weak heart, sometimes i really worry i might have an attack, and my daughter would be crushed. Because of my health, i do not confront her, or argue, i give in.

In my heart i believe God will mend this terrible realtionship, because he promises that the way you raise a child they will not depart from it, and like you we always were close until she graduated from high school. I believe she will come back to the way she was raised to behave. Try to be patient, God sees your pain.

i read all the advice written to you on this page and there is a wealth of wisdom. I have a situation where my 28 yr. old daughter refuses to have this sit down, face to face talk. She will raise her voice and say impatiently to me,"I am in school full time, i work, and i dont have time for this! Do not get me upset with more problems!" This heartfelt sharing never happens. It is my cross to bear, i never thought we would ever live like this, we were so very close all her childhood.



answers from New York on

I also have a problem with my 35 year old daughter. We use to have a close relationship but not anymore. Ever since she got married to an Old School Italian she has changed. She has two daughters 5 & 7. We just found out that the 7 year old has OCD. If it weren't for me they wouldn't even know it. She has been seeing a child psychologist but my daughter tells me to mind my own business. It is between her and her husband. I disagree. I am suppose to ignore my granddaughter when she says something to me. I had told her she could always come to me with her problems. Once the things she was saying, for instance. they (people in her head are telling her to take a knife and stab me in the belly. Then she says "but I won't do that I love you. I told her we had to tell her Mother because I would not always be around when she has these thoughts. It seems to me that the bad things "they" are telling her to do is mostly to her grandmothers, grandfather and mother and father. My daughter just told me to stay away from her children for the last time. I am tired of being controlled and I am going to speak to the child psycologist that my granddaughter is seeing. Hopefully he will speak to me. My daughter is having her 3rd child and is due in March. I am at my breaking point. My daughter and I have had quite a few arguements just about anything I try to advise her but she thinks she knows it all. I don't know where to turn now as she is using the kids against me. I love them so much and do not want to lose them. They live one town over. HELP



answers from Anchorage on

I think it is horrible that she would hurt her own daughter by using her as a pawn against you. I would avoid talking to her about anything she does and just put all my focus and love on my granddaughter. It sounds like she can not handle having her choices questioned right now, so just say nothing (I know as a mom it can be hard), ignore her if she gets mean, and just love that grandchild with all you have.


answers from Pueblo on

I think you need to get to the core of what is bugging her. Children are used to taking their frustrations out on their moms when something is upsetting them, and this can easily become a habit. Your daughter sounds extremely stressed, confused and upset about something, so instead of focusing on how she is hurting your feelings, I would turn it around and start focusing on why she is so upset. Tell her that you can see that she is really upset, and ask her what is going on in her life that is upsetting her so much. Listen to her story, instead of telling her what not to do. She may be a grown up, but you are still the mom, so don't take her nastiness personally. Tell her that you just want to understand what is happening for her, and how she feels, and that you want to be her friend.
As soon as you let your ego get in the way, and start getting hurt about her comments and screaming, your ego is just going to rub against hers, and this can quickly become a destructive pattern. So, reach out to her, tell her you want to make things better, invite her out for a cup of tea somewhere, offer to watch her daughter when she needs a break and just try to be supportive. Like you said in your post, she has made some bad choices, and I'm sure she finds it difficult to cope with the consequenses of those choices. So, give her your compassion, love and understanding, and realize that her nastiness is just a hidden cry for help...



answers from Denver on

Sometimes adults can act worse than a child and I venture to say that your daughter will not change her behavior. She is charged about something and one thing I know is when people seem to attack those they love it is usually because they need a release and the people closest to them are the ones that get it. Sucks huh? Anyways, I'd say your best recourse is to sit down and really analyze your position. Sounds like your grand daughter is your primary focus, you don't want to lose her.

If I were you, I would do anything in my power to ensure that I didn't fight with my daughter. I am sure it is a TALL order but you have to do it. She will always be confrontational and difficult, it is who she is. She has created a rough life for herself and this is who she has become. When she starts in on you, just say, "I am sorry you are feeling this way, I wish I could fix it for you". Also, do not EVER offer your advice unless she asks. I know as a mother this is the hardest EVER but she is an adult, so you gotta let her lead her own path without judgement from you.

I bet after a month or so of you not playing into her fits you will find a much more tolerable relationship.

Good luck!



answers from Boston on

I don't believe that this is all there is to it. Either you have been a doormat for your daughter her whole life-so she's always treated you badly-if so then shame on you as a mother for allowing it-OR something else, probably big has happened between you two, and while probably both parties share in the blame-you probably did something REALLY wrong in order for her to hold her daughter against you. It sounds from your posting that despite the fact that your daughter is an adult, you feel the need to openly question her decisions, and you criticize her-she "has made some bad choices in her adulthood." If she has, that is up to her, whether you like it or not, and you should realize that if you have done something to hurt, or undermine her, then you ARE lucky that you get to see your granddaughter.

Perhaps she is simply nasty and self-centered, or maybe there's more to it-and the way you talk to her is what brings this out. Is she really being nasty, or is she asserting control in her life, and telling you to butt out, as well as telling you why she's upset? Listen to her the next time she yells. Is she simply saying things like "you're stupid and worthless?" Or is she saying things like, "When I was young, you always did things like that and it was hurtful," "How dare you criticize the way I choose to live MY life," "You are NOT my child's mother, so don't tell me how to raise her or discuss your opinions of me with her?"

Besides writing her a letter detailing how much she hurts you-why don't you try opening up a dialogue about what you two can do to improve the situation and what you need from each other to do this. Then, be willing to make changes yourself, otherwise, you will never be able to overcome this.



answers from Denver on

Would she be interested in seeing a counselor with you? Maybe your daughter has some old anger issues with you and this is how she's dealing with it?



answers from Denver on

I am in your daughter's place at this point. However I don't involve my kids or anyone else. It's just between me and my mother. I have thought about what would make it right for us, by thinking about what I would do if my kids were being this way towards me. unconditional love by a mother is the only way to go, I believe. ( so much harder towards anyone else other than your kids) I would apologize if I'm annoying my daughter, or making her feel bad, and if it's unwarranted she will see it over time, and learn to change when she feels the love. For me, I don't feel the love, from my mother, which I desperately need. For her, it's all about control!! That's what makes me want to scream!! Therefore the attempt to make her feel out of control!!! Could your daughter be doing that to you, by not letting you see your granddaughter? ( which I do believe is wrong, regardless).


answers from Port St. Lucie on

Love yourself enough to walk away. Your daughter is abusive, I went through something simular with my adult daughter. It came to the point where I had to tell her to leave my house, I threw her out twice, she is in her late twenties, and know it was not permanent, but it was to get her to walk away instead of me having to. Pick your battles well. In this society, there are more and more sociopaths, borderline personality disorders,,,etc. If she uses her child to black mail you, I feel sorry for your grand child. Because if your daughter stoops that low now, imagine what she is going to be like in your grandchilds future. She needs therapy before it really gets bad, you love your daughter, but love yourself more.


answers from Norfolk on

Has your daughter been evaluated for a thyroid problem? My sister is hyperthyroid, and if she does not take her medication regularly, she becomes quite irrational - a lot like how you describe your daughters behavior. You probably can tell when an argument is brewing. When you see the signs, come up with an excuse to end the call "There goes the door bell - talk to you later - gotta go!" and hang up. Don't feed her need to argue.

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