Seeking Advice About Adult Daughter

Updated on January 26, 2013
A.M. asks from Saint Louis, MO
15 answers

My adult daughter (30) lives with her boyfriend over 800 miles away. It's not a question of me not accepting her boyfriend because I do. I have visited her a couple of times and we've had good times. However, she communicates very little with me or her dad and even with the rest of the family. She was adopted at 3 mos. but she is our wonderful daughter who grew up in a loving, warm family. I'm wondering if some of her feelings are deep rooted because she feels so detached from all of us. I usually write her once a week or everyother week. I don't bombard her with contact. I know she is busy with her own life and work; however, her dad and I would like to feel a part of it. She doesn't return texts, calls, or emails. When I do write I always just share what's been going on in my life, ask how things are her way, and compliment her on work that she sometimes puts on FB.
It seems like everytime I'm on FB, she gets off. I have never tried chatting on FB with her unless she would start up the conversation. I just think this is so unusual. It's such a cold relationship. I hate it. I'm wondering if there's something I've said or done to keep her from any communication. When she did need some money to get caught up on her car payments, she had no trouble texting me back and forth. I would like a closer relationship with my only daughter. Any suggestions or advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

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answers from New York on

You should go talk to a therapist. Sounds like you might be a bit depressed since she moved out. It will make you feel better. And it will also help you determine how to take the next steps with her.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from St. Louis on

Every time you post it is basically this same question. There is nothing abnormal about your daughters level of communication, she is an adult, she has a life.

Your need to communicate so much is what is abnormal. Sure if there is something major going on you communicate more but just day to day? I would go nuts if my dad needed me to communicate with him at a certain interval to make him feel loved. My older two live on their own, I don't hear from them often but I know they love me.
I know I posted this before. I was adopted and this, and all your posts, could be written by my mom. She cannot fill what you are lacking and your needs actually hurt her and drive her away. She can only love you, she cannot heal you.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Hi A.,
I've read your previous threads, which are all about your adult daughter. You express your feelings and disappointment very well in not having a closer relationship with her.

I wonder why she did not move out of your home until she was 28 years old? And that was only 2 years ago at best?

Most daughters go through a normal time of separation in their late teens/early 20's, and have that opportunity to spread their wings while off in college. Then they rejoin the family when they have had time to fulfill their wanderlust. I've experienced this with my 24 yo daughter already. The last 8 years were full of her attempting to set boundaries, and now she is so loving and kind and appreciative off the guidance and support we have given her over the years.

One comment you made that shocked me in an earlier post is that your husband would be mortified if he knew who she was living with. So, is she still living with a black man? And your husband is totally against this? I would think that would drive a wedge into her staying in touch with you, as I imagine he is around a lot and it's hard to talk with you intimately if your husband is over your shoulder.

Finally, keep doing what you're doing..calling, sending letters, etc. She sound like all late bloomers who need a little space to be themselves. She'll come around. You sound like such a caring and openhearted mom.

I also sense fear in your posts, as you frequently mention her adoption at 3 mos of age. Yes, it's quite common for adopted kids to search for that biological connection. Perhaps you should be open with her and understanding about this topic? Is it something that she needs to know and figure out?

You communicate very well, so please tell her, that you miss her and that you love her and that you want to be closer with her. Never stop telling her that you love her...

OK, one more thought, when she moved home, or she came home crying after the break up with a boyfriend, why would you not ask questions? I ask my kids questions ALL.THE.TIME. They have the right to say they don't want to talk about something, and I would respect that. But by not asking, it would feel like your not my home.

Sorry you are missing her. I hope this all improves with time.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Allowing our children to grow up and move away (figuratively and literally) is very difficult to do. A few years ago I heard a great question: "Your kids are making plans on what they are going to do when they leave home. What plans are you making for you for when they leave home?"

As parents, and especially as moms, our world has become raising our children. What do we do when that stage ends? We become so identified with being a mom that we don't realize there is supposed to be more out there for us. We are supposed to raise our children and then move on to a new adventure.

What do you have in your life that is just for you? What do you have in your life (besides being a mother) that really helps you to feel passionate, strong, delicious, satisfied, or content?

You will always be a mom, however, it is time to be a different type of mom. You will still keep in contact just like you are. You will still be curious about how your children are doing. The key is to be able to let go of the expectation that your closeness will ever be the same again. Your daughter has the right to her own space right now to explore her own life and learn about being an individual outside of her family.

This doesn't mean that you will not have a relationship with her or even a close relationship. It just means that you release the expectations of how it "should" look and allow for what it is. Find peace with the idea that she is grown and there will be distance. Just because she is distant does not mean that she doesn't value you. She is in the middle of life right now. She knows you are there and she needs that. And, she needs to have the space to be on her own. She has not left you. She has not abandoned you. She still cares about you. She still loves you. It is simply time for a new stage in both of your lives.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Have you told her how you felt? What was the relationship like before she moved far away? Did you at one point not accept the boyfriend or their living arrangements?
Has there been turmoil between you and her or other family members before?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would recommend telling her directly how you feel and that you would like a closer relationship. I am not close with my mother (I am not adopted) but it's not anything she's done wrong, I just don't have anything in common with her other than blood. She is not someone I would choose as a friend. Your daughter may seek you out more once she becomes a mother herself.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

As the mother of an adult child, I suggest that you're trying too hard and are making contact too often. Feels like bombardment to me. I suggest that she's busy making a life of her own and may feel pressured just by the frequency of your contacts. I suggest you try reducing the number of your texts, calls, and emails. Perhaps just send one newsy e-mail every couple of weeks; two contacts/month.

My daughter and I weren't close until after she married and had children. We have always had open communication and she told me I was being intrusive with my frequent contact. I backed off. She matured (around age 30) and we talk several times/week now. It helps that we live in the same city. That did make it more difficult for me to back off but I did it.

Could you talk with your daughter, by phone, about how you're feeling? Tell her you want to feel close and ask her how you can be involved in her life. Be willing to reduce contact. Tell her you realize that she's busy and suggest that maybe she'd like less contact and that would be alright with you. I suggest that would be a good start.

Start slow. Learn as you go how she wants to relate with you.

Later: I think it's difficult for some children to make that separation from dependency on their parents which makes not having frequent contact necessary for them. Once they're confident in their role as an adult they can come back home so to speak.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I doubt that it's something you've done or said; it's probably more about her just growing up and making her own life. It's pretty typical really. But, there is no doubt in my mind that once she gets married and starts to have her own family, she will be much more receptive to your relationship and will probably really seek it out for your advice and counsel.

Just keep doing what you're doing and try not to take it personally.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

My best advice is to give her space. I know that sounds counter-intuitive considering she lives 800 miles away but the fact that she lives 800 miles away means she's setting some clear boundaries and trying to establish a life of her own at 30, which she should have done in her twenties.

She needs to be the one to reach out to you. Maybe if you're not so available to her by trying to constantly contact her day in and day out multiple times a day, but you try only once every week or once every couple of weeks by leaving a message on her voicemail, she'll be more likely to have a chance to miss you and call you back or even answer the phone.

She may be 800 miles away but she hasn't had a chance to miss you. Especially if you and your husband said some hurtful things to her about her live-in boyfriend or her choice to move away.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Hi, A.:
I understand how you much feel. In today's world, things are so different from the way life use to be. Technology has had a major influence on personal relationships.
Let her go. Get involved in volunteering with children, foster parenting, become a CASA volunteer with your local court services unit. Be a Big Sister.
Love your husband and get on another fast track.
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Richmond on

the best way to handle a child who only contacts you when they need money is to simple tell me, "you need to call me more often, and not just when you need money, honey" she might not even realize this is what she is doing unless you tell her...try it
K. h. or you could try what i did when my younger sister went through the same phase with me, i simply started answering the phone, " lorry's ATM machine, can i help you ?", she didnt even realize that was happening , until i pointed it out.we had a laugh and we got past it

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think that you are doing the right thing, and she will come around. It isn't easy, but sometimes we get so caught up in our own lives that we take those we love for granted. Just keep emailing and keeping the line of communication open.

Good luck!



answers from Washington DC on

My biological son is just like her. Selfish and self absorbed. He calls when he needs something because he has not come to the point in his development where he will take responsibility for his affect on others. Because you've made yourself too available, your daughter knows you do not protect your boundaries so she too ignores them. It's hard to really face that our children get to choose whether they love us or not. Be really honest with yourself and ask yourself if she treats you like you treat her. Now, what are you willing to do about this? Continue chasing her or simply feel the real sadness of an empty relationship?



answers from New York on

Wish I had good advice to give, but unfortunately our family is having a similar situation with my older sister and I don't know what to tell you.

Everyone has gone from fairly regular contact with my sister in the past to now maybe one or two phone calls A YEAR. In the past 6 years she has only visited my mother once for 3 days, my father maybe 5 times, my brother twice and my son, who was born shortly after she moved away, has only seen her four times (once when he was an infant and three times when he was a toddler. She has not seen him at all in the last three years. BTW, 2 of the times she has seen him I had to travel very far to meet up, so it's not like I haven't put in the effort). It sucks, because my son is very close with his uncle and all his grandparents, but somewhere he has an aunt who barely knows him. And so he barely knows her.

In our situation, no one really knows of a specific complaint behind her separation, if there is one. She did get remarried and this may have something to do with it. But it's not like anyone did anything really "wrong", so I'm not sure you should beat yourself up over what is going on with your daughter. It might not be you at all - it may just be her.

In our family, we're all just keeping the lines of communication open with her and not doing anything to shut her off, in case she wants to "return to the fold", as they say. I think that's the best you can do. You can't really force someone to stay in frequent touch.

Best of luck.



answers from San Francisco on

I'm changing my answer to ditto Tiffany's.

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