Mother / Adult Daughter Question

Updated on May 31, 2012
M.H. asks from Madison, WI
15 answers

When I was a child, due to unfortunate circumstances, my parents divorced and I ended up living with my dad during school months and my mom during the summer months. It was very sad for my mom and I to have to separate when I was such a young age. And unfortunately because I lived away from her she was never there when I had school issues, friend issues, etc. Certainly not the way she wanted, but that's how it was. My dad and her were on very bad terms so I rarely got to talk to her and it was all pretty superficial when I did get to talk to her. Even to this day my mom and dad pretty much hate each other.

Once I was an adult, I was able to come live with my mom through my college years. So that was nice to have that time with her.

So fast forward to me as an adult with my own family now. I live over 100 miles away from my mom now. She isn't able to drive due to health reasons, so we don't get to see each other too often. Although we talk/email on a weekly basis. She is also in a town that her and my stepdad have only lived in for a few years. So while they get out often, just the 2 of them, they don't really have groups of friends that they do stuff with. So it's really just the 2 of them.

My husband and I have been part of our church for many years now and we've made a lot of friends and acquintances and we really feel a part of our church community. We were both new to this area and joined this church and have built many relationships over time. I love having friendships/relationships with people outside of a work environment. And this is the first church in my adult life that I have settled into, so I really feel blessed.

My mom came to see us recently and we had an event at our church. I never really discuss just how much we are involved with our church or how many friends we have because my mom has always seemed to react - I guess hurt, not sure - whenever I've had a best friend or group of friends. I think now that she has been here and saw our church and all the people/friends coming up to us, she realizes that we are part of our church community and we have many friends at the church.
She didn't seem hurt at all when she was here so I was glad.
But since then I let her know about an event at church only because it will conflict with a family type event (she won't be attending). And she starts asking me about who all will be at this church event. It's as if now she will be on high alert anytime she knows I'll be at a church event. Although there are many things I do at church that shes not aware of.

I feel sad if my mom's feelings are hurt by me having friends, but yet I can't just be a hermit and never develop friendships/relationships so her feelings won't be hurt.

Does anyone else relate to this type of experience?
Do you think my mom feels envious that I have friendships? Or is she maybe hurt because she isn't the friend in my life?
Just wondering if anyone can relate to this?

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answers from Colorado Springs on

It could be that your mother wishes she had been a bigger part of your life before - and now that she sees you with friends and church activities of your own, she feels as if she's lost out for good.

You can't be her little girl any more (except in her heart!), but you can keep inviting her and including her when you can. Keep on being gracious and loving to her as you live your life. She seems to be in the process of sorting things out; you can't do that for her.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

In reverse.

I'm DYING to grill my son about every minute he spends at his dad's house. The kids he plays with, what he's doing, etc.

But I don't. To MISquote a Monty Pythonism "No one needs the Spanish Inquisition!!!".

He sees 'that look' on me though, sometimes, and interprets it as hurt. I'm not. I just want to be there for him. To know what's going on in his life. It's WANTING. Longing. And knowing if I push for info, it's only going to push him away.

Now, my son's 9... and this whole divorce land thing is new to me... so it coupld be something completely different. But each and every single time he asks me if I'm hurt about something, it's when I'm having a longing/missing out/don't want to put my stuff on him moment.

Don't know if my stuff helps you, but you helped me. I couldn't figure out what to say in those moments. Which vexes BOTH of us. Now I do. "No way kiddo. I just want to grill you for all the gory details but don't wanna put you through the spanish inquisition! What you're seeing is towering self control." and then the wink/laugh and plop on the couch.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

I think... she is sad... because she cannot be a part of your life, nor is nearby you.
She is not hurt that you have friends and a life... but that, she is not there to experience it with you. And she is probably lonely.... not being able to be there with you etc.

She is not hurt that you have friends.
She just has not been a part of your life. And that makes her sad, probably.
Just like being homesick... but for her daughter.

She is not jealous.
Think beyond that.
Put yourself in her shoes.
She is your Mom. And has not been in your life due to circumstances while you were younger.
Now she is certainly older. When older, adults have a different sense of how they fit into, their child's lives. Even if you are an adult and she knows that.
Her life with you, was sporadic. Only when you were in college.
And perhaps, she really enjoyed going out with you when she was visiting you, and to your church events. She has nice memories of it.
She was with her daughter.

Don't think she is trying to impede you.

But, you have a life, you are close with other people/friends etc. And she never had that... with you.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Providence on

I think she is asking this because she wants to be more involved with you and your life. It appears she has always wanted this with you, and to have a good, close relationship. She might just want to know more about you, your church, and what you do with your life. It's a good thing to have a parent very interested in your life. If she didn't ask, I think you would feel the opposite.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

It sounds like your mom might still be hurting from missing out on so much of your growing years . . . but even if that's true it's not your problem imho. You did not choose the divorce or the way your life went.

I would think it's also possible that your mom has emotional problems that she has never resolved (and who knows - maybe it played a part in the divorce). But once again, that's not something you can fix.

I would just continue to be loving and kind to her (it sounds like you are). What else can you do? You're an adult entitled to your own life.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Hi there, no, I cannot relate to you on this subject. My mom was a SAHM and life was great for me growing up. I'm not saying that to brag to you at all, I'm saying that just so you know how I grew up when I tell you what I'm thinking. I was thinking that maybe your mom is trying to find some way to "connect" with you. She was with you at church, hence the reason she is asking about so-and-so, and if they will be at the event. She is trying to start up a conversation, and try to connect with you in some way. Do you struggle to have a nice long conversation with your mom? If so, maybe this is just another subject that she can come up with. And she also may feel a little envious as well, seeing how you seem to be successful in the friendship department, and it doesn't seem like that her and her husband are too much. I don't think you are doing a thing wrong, just keep being kind to her and don't tell her anything you don't want her to know. Having a church family is awesome. Don't change it for anything.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I, too, agree that your mom misses you tremendously and more than likely has many sad feelings about being separated from you during your childhood. I'm sure she wishes she were a part of your close community that you've built with your church, just so she could be closer to you in proximity and closer to you in heart. I think I'd make a very serious effort to spend more time with her going forward. Have the two of you really ever had a heart-to-heart about those years growing up apart? To me, it sounds like she's also a little lost in this community she's living in which she has no real close ties, other than her husband. Sounds like she's never really healed from a traumatic earlier life. Living without my child would certainly cause me some mental trauma, I must say. Best wishes to you and your mom ...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

She's not jealous - she's happy you have friends. She's either disappointed her visit with you isn't getting 100% of your attention, or she's not that "churchy" (no offense).

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I'm not sure envy is the right word. Maybe wistful?
It could be she's living vicariously through you.
I would not assume her feelings are hurt.
Try not to read between her lines - I don't think she means anything by it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

I have never had this experience, I have to say. Most moms are glad for their children, young ones or adults, to have friends.

I'm sorry if your mom is really this way, but it isn't normal and it isn't fair to you, and you shouldn't let this affect your life at all.

Calling and emailing and seeing her when you can is what you are able to do, and that's fair and appropriate.

Answer her questions and don't let her make you feel guilty. If she tries to discuss it, listen to her, and tell her that you are sorry that she feels this way, but friends are important to you. Friends as in plural. Tell her that you are happy that she is a friend, but first and foremost, she is your mother. And when your children are grown, you, as their mother, will be very happy for them to have friends. It's the way things should be.

Hopefully she will listen to you.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Why not forge a stronger relationship with your mother by talking to her about what you are seeing or feeling? That would seem a far more noble endeavor than asking us to reading into your mom based on your side of her story.

Why not ask her how she feels about your involvement in church? Why not let her know you have some concerns that she doesn't have many friends? Why not find out if her life is fulfilling to her or ask her about her facial expressions?

Get to really know the heart of the woman that is your mother both of you and others could benefit from this exercise of love.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Redding on

You are an adult, what you do in your time is what you do.
Don't let your mom make you feel guilty when you've chosen plans that don't include her.
This happens to me frequently with my mother, she thinks if my husband and I are going out of town to do this or that she should be able to tag along.
Not happening.
It's not about "church" it's about your mom not having anything else to do or creating anything else to do and she wants you to fill in that gap for her.
I fill in the gap when I can, but I do not let my mom mess up my normal married life with my husband and friends.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My Mom (and Dad) always came first and foremost. I always just lived minutes from them, even though I know everyone doesn't...I guess we had an unusural relationship....I always felt so sorry for them in their older years because they had no one outside of our family...and we all took care of them on a daily basis. But from early Mom was my best friend and my Dad so funny...even in his 80's. Us kids always used to joke and say...we don't need outside friends...none of us have outside friends to this day....we all have each other to include their spouses and children...that makes about 14 of us in many more friends do you need! I am happy and so are they. My daughter and I have the same relationship as me and my might say it is inheirited...but whatever...we are happy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Appleton on

I think your mom is lonely and maybe unsure of how to forge good friendships. She may also have a lot of guilt about your childhood. Mother's who do not raise their kids but only visit or have visitation suffer from a lot of assumed community judgement. Even if she didn't suffer from the judgement of others she may have felt unable to have close friends because they might find out she was a 'bad' mother. I'm not saying she was a bad mother but she may have felt she was because you were living with your dad.
Since your mon doesn't have any close friends where she lives would it be possible to have her and your step-father move closer to you? Maybe you can get her to move into the same city you live in; once she gets settled you could take to events at church and other places such as the senior citizen center ahd hopefully help her make some real friends.



answers from Rapid City on

I think your mom is happy for you to have friendships and envolvment in the church. She asks you who will be there because if they are ones she had met, it gives her a connected feeling. She is lonely for you and probably in some ways, wishing she had that friendship in her life. Perhaps when you are there visiting her and your stepfather, you can get them to go to a church and see if you can get her involved with people there. Also check out the senior center and see what they have to offer. Here in our little town they have Bingo each monday, cards on thursdays and sewing bees on tuesdays. You may even mention to one of the women that your mom is a bit shy about making friends so they will take extra care to make sure she is encluded. Teach her how to make friends of her own and she will be busy and have the time of her life.

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