Seeking Advice for Angry Parent of Adult Child

Updated on November 16, 2012
D.D. asks from Hickory, NC
27 answers

Why am I angry with my adult daughter who is married and expecting her first child. They have very limited funds and I am always feeling like I need to help them with bills and food. They say they don't need it, but I feel guilty because my husband and I do very well.

We raised her to be self dependent, but here we are now.

How can I draw the iline with her and still help without feeling like we are making it possible for her to be depending on us?

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answers from Boca Raton on

I think Marda P. really hit the nail on the head - I would read and re-read her post.

Good luck and I hope this gets better for you. <<hugs>>

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

You are getting some pretty negative replies.

I assume you are angy because you wanted more for her. You wanted to know she would be self sufficient - not just today - but when you are gone. And you don't know that she will be. Now she is having a child - and you don't know that she will be able to provide for that child the way you provided for her. And you feel guilty. I would too. However - it is her life now and she gets to decide how to live it.

I would set up a (secret) college fund for the child. Someday he/she may need it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Are you angry or disappointed? Probably the latter and acknowledging that might help. So what if you help them financially. Times are tough. I partly keep working to help my kids if they need it. That is if they're working super hard and I can make it a bit easier on them. Lots of parents I know have gotten help from their parents. Is she hard working and honest and trying her best? If so, be proud!

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answers from Portland on

D., I've been there with my daughter. We spent several years after she first moved out feeling very upset with each other. What I eventually learned is that I could not give help or advice unless my daughter asked for it. She's now 33 and has 3 children. She frequently asks me for help, now. We are very comfortable with each other and I still follow that plan. I am able to offer help from time to time but mostly I wait for her to ask, which she does.

I, too, like to help. I've learned to let go of feeling the need to help. I do not want to make other people uneasy in order to fulfill my need. I'm still available to help when I see that someone needs help but I'm careful about the way in which I offer the help. I don't immediately offer help unless I know that the person might be open for help. There are many people who do not want help. That is their right to refuse help. And when I offer I ask the question, "would you like help with such and such?" Then I ask what can I do to help you?" I do not come up with a ready answer. While we're discussing this I offer what I'm able to do.

I learned that much of my need to be helpful was learned as a child. Helping was an important part of my self identity and gave me self esteem. Helping was my need and insisting that I help was a way of meeting my needs but did not help others when they didn't want help.

I suggest that your daughter is young and has to first prove herself to herself before she will be able to accept help from you. As a parent, it's important that you honor her need for independence. Many children have a difficult time separating from their parent. That is a developmental stage that I suggest your daughter hasn't managed yet. When you insist on helping you are holding her back from becoming an independent adult. She has to feel separate from you before she can come back to being with you.

I suggest you read up on Co-dependence. The relationship you want with your daughter sounds much like being dependent on her because you want her to be dependent on you. I learned that I was co-dependent and learned ways to not need other people so much.

Why are you angry? Your daughter is telling you what she wants. That is good. My daughter was just angry with me for years and I never understood why until I was in counseling and learned to stop helping her. Only after I, with difficulty, stopped helping, was she able to tell me what she needed; that she needed my emotional support but not physical support. She also told me that when I helped her with housework or by giving her things I thought she needed that I was telling her that what she did was not good enough.

15 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on, she tells you not to help and you do anyway, and then you're mad at her about it?

14 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Let me see if I understand this. She is married and expecting her first child. They wish to live within their means but you *feel* you need to help them with bills and food. They tell you they don't need it but you feel guilty because you have done well.

Do I have all that right?

Stop helping her!!! She doesn't want your help, she is not asking for your help! You are trying to make her dependent on you!

For god sake at least wait until she asks for help!!

13 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

They have said they don't need your help so I don't get where you have to draw a line. Seems like THEY need to draw a line since they've told you they don't need your help, yet you continue to insist on helping them.

Back off. If they need your help, they'll probably ask. They are trying to be independent but you are insisting on making them dependent.

My mom used to do that also. I finally told her that when I tell her about my problems, I am just asking for emotional support, NOT for her to fix my problems. I wanted to do that on my own. She finally backed off and guess what? I did just fine on my own. It was nice to know she was there if I needed her, but it was also really nice to know that I didn't need her.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Fargo on

Hi D.. By your post, I understand that you are giving them money even if they say they don't need it. I think your anger is misdirected. You can stop giving her money at any time and I think that it's best if you quit now so that you don't harm your relationship with your daughter by being angry at her for something that you are choosing to do.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Why are you mad at her? It doesn't sound like she is destitute or starving on the streets. It sounds like she has just not risen to your say "We raised her to be self dependent, but here we are now".

She is telling you that she does not need the money. My husband's parents were always better off than we were. We never asked for anything. It was nice when they bought us the rare box of diapers when the kids were small.

Bottom line...don't give her any money if you are going to be angry about it.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Why are you blaming her? She is telling you, that she doesn't need it. YOU are "feeling like I need to help them with bills and food."

Back OFF. If they need help, they will ask. You should be angry at yourself, and your anger is unfairly misplaced.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Accept the fact that just because they aren't living up to YOUR Standard they are OK. Think back to when you both started your family - were you well off or were you like they are?

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Let her know that if they need help, let you know.
Otherwise butt out!
Their finances are their business!
No need to get angry just because the live a simpler life.
If you must contribute, start a college fund for your grand baby.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

It seems like you need to draw a line with yourself.
They say they don't need your help - so don't help them.
Keep gifts small.
Every time you feel an urge to give them some help (that is over the top) - stop - then secretly put a token amount into a college account for your grandchild.
That sort of help will be fine.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

If she is not asking for the help, stop acting like she is.

My mother used to do the same thing. It's a big no-confidence vote from a parent when they still treat you like a dependent. You might want to figure out why you feel compelled to buy them food or bills if they aren't asking directly for them. Even if you think they have a problem, this sort of relationship isn't healthy for them, or for you. This can really have a weird affect in your relationship with your grandchild too, if you are not allowing the parents to be adults.

Let them figure out their own situation. If and when they ask, you and your husband can figure out if you want to give them a gift, or a loan. You can still make them a nice gift for something for baby--say, buy the crib or a good stroller or carseat-- that's a common way for prospective grandparents to gift the kids and to honor the baby.

If you feel you *need* to do more than this, then maybe it's time to get some help from a counselor or trusted advisor/mentor on the matter. Maybe you are angry because you keep giving them things and yet you don't see their behavior changing, or maybe you don't want things to be so hard for them. I don't know.... However, if you are raising her to be self-dependent, your actions aren't sending this message.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My advice is to accept that they have a different standard of living than you do.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

She's not asking for help, but yet you still feel like you have to send help? And then you blame her for not being independent enough - even though she didn't ask you for anything?

Plus you're angry about it????

It sounds like you might be a bit co-dependent. That's not a bad thing, every family has a little bit of it - but from an outside perspective you seem to need her to need you, and that's not healthy.

Check out some websites on co-dependency, or a great book "Co-dependent no more".

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Is she asking for help? If not, then you are putting these feelings on yourself. If you didn't help, would they still have food on the table and be able to pay their bills? If yes, then you need to stop comparing where you are and where she is. If they are not asking, and they don't need your help to survive, but you keep trying to "help" because you think they should be in a different place financially or whatever, you are just going to make them feel crappy. Considering how tough the economy has been, unless she's been an irresponsible screw-up, you need to lighten up. Either give because you want to, or stop the anger trip because she's not "measuring up".

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Two things: first of all they say they don't need your help, so if you are offering it anyways for whatever reason, it is not like they are "mooching" it off of you. My guess is that you daughter would rather not get anything from you, then you giving her things and being angry about it.

I don't think this has anything to do with what she is doing or not doing, but you seem to have some emotional issues with your relationship with your daughter. I don't think it is normal or healthy to feel guilted into helping out, even after you have been told that they are ok, and then being angry about it.
I would suggest that you address your issues, either by doing some serious reflection on your feelings or even better by seeking counseling.
Good luck.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You raised her to be self sufficient. She is but you are feeling disappointment because you wished so much for her (believe me I know). I would enjoy what you have worked hard for and made for yourselves. Do not be disappointed in her. She is simply not what you had planned in your head for her to be. She sounds like she gets along, lives a simpler life and will be asking if she needs it. We are of a generation where we worked hard and tried to inspire our children to be all they can be. And that is not always what WE want them to be. At the present this is all she can be and it sounds like it is satisfactory for her. Enjoy her first child, give present to the child, help if needed, be there for her. Love her, love her little family and relax. You aren't enjoying what you have done. You are allowed to enjoy your life now. She is living hers. Get to know your husband again!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You feel angry.
You feel forced (to help).
You feel guilty (because you are well off and she is not).
You feel incapable (of drawing the line, or making her independent).

All of these can change but only you can change your feelings.
Seek a professional to help you change your actions, your feelings and find some peace and happiness. You deserve to be happy. I would imagine your daughter would be glad to have a happy mother more than all your money. This is poison to all your relationships.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

You just said that "they say they don't need it."

It doesn't sound like she is mooching off you, so it sounds like you are the one with the problem.

If you are well off financially, as you say, and your daughter and her husband are good people who are working hard in life, then I see no reason why you can't help them out.

I think your question is unclear, because on one hand you say they don't ask for money, but on the other hand you say that you are making them dependent on you.

I don't think you have any right to be angry, from what you have written.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

So, you're rich & she's poor. She doesn't ask for help & in fact states she doesn't need it, but you press it on her anyways. And then YOU are mad at her.


Your post makes you sound very emotionally manipulative.

Maybe you should tell her you want immediate repayment of everything you've given her? Or get yourself into therapy to figure out why you're mad at your daughter over your own behavior.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

She will ask for help when she needs it. When my hubby took his 65% paycut we didn't know what to do but we would do it. Hubby works a lot of hours at his jobs. I went back to work full time. My parents sent us $50 a week to help only with groceries for about 3 weeks. That helped and we managed. Then they stopped but we never depended on it, it was a nice gesture on my parents part. You can't give a drunk a drink as Dave Ramsey says. Hugs to you. They will be ok and you will be too.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

You said they don't need it. So why are you giving it to her then getting mad she is not self dependent.
Most new couples just having children always struggle. I did, my parents did. We all make our own way. If someone helps along the way that is so wonderful.
I feel if I did very well I would'nt mind helping my daughter out, I would feel good about making things a little easier. Unless I am missing something here It seems to be your choice in helping her.
I am not being mean I am just trying to understand why your angry.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Start putting some money into an orthodontia or college fund for this baby and any more who come along. Do not tell your daughter every time you make a deposit in this fund.

No adult child wants to feel she can't make it - if you are paying for basic bills and even groceries, that's the message that you are giving her every single time you write her a check. And it's an insult to her husband as well. I think you may wind up causing more resentment through your generosity.

Are you afraid you won't be needed? I'm sure there are many things you can do as a mother and as a grandmother that do not detract from your daughter's feelings of self-worth. Do you feel you let her down in some way in the past? If so, you can't "buy" her back to you!

Resist the urge to lavish incredible gifts on this baby. Ask her and her husband to name one large item that they would like to be the gift from you and your husband. Then stick to it. You can oooh and aaahhhh over the baby, and you should! But do not tell her how to raise her child or what baby items she should buy. Let her friends give her a baby shower - as her mother, you shouldn't anyway. Go to the shower and be a great guest, complimenting every single thoughtful gift that others give her.

Be delighted that you have raised a self-sufficient daughter, and remember that she needs a home full of love more than a home full of stuff.

You can let her know that you and your husband are approachable if she ever has difficulty, without constantly throwing money at her.

And consider talking to a professional counselor to help you deal with your anger. There are enough changes coming in your family that make it worthwhile to get things straightened out now rather than later.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I suggest you look at her lifestyle and possible needs as if you were a stranger. Perhaps knowing too much has made you more aware of her deficits.

I know many families that have multiple children, one had 12, and the family income is very limited. They did fine and had a home full of love. Emotionally those kids did not miss a single thing. They are still very close and loving.

I think that if she needs something she should feel the doorway is open to ask because you love her.

You might also make a gift to her, in her name only, a trust fund/monthly deposit or some other source of independent income. If you put it in both of their names it becomes their income and if they ever divorced he could claim half of it. IF it's in her name only then it's her inheritance/income and not his in any way.

We had an estate attorney come to Relief Society one month and he went over stuff like this. In the LDS lifestyle couples get married for life. There is hardly ever divorce, not unheard of but super uncommon. He did say that with the LDS traditions of a lifetime of marriage that it might seem rude to do something that is only in your own child's name but life does happen. What if they did divorce?

The attorney was talking about all kids of things, like leaving your kids your estate, setting up a monthly trust account where they got a monthly deposit from a larger sum of money. That money could not be used for anything except drawing interest and stuff but she could do what she wanted with her deposit.

If you bought them a house it would be in her name only, if you bought her a car it would be in her name...there is nothing that would make him feel worse though. If he thinks you think he is underhanded or a cheat then it might undercut their marriage strength so be careful if you do decide to visit with an attorney and consider some sort of "inheritance" that is given before you don't need it anymore. After you are gone there are all kinds of taxes and time for probates, it's often easier to say to an adult child something like this....

"Sweetie, dad and I went to see an attorney about drawing up our will and he suggested we do some things with our money before we pass away so it will be less of a financial mess. We want to set up a bank account for you so that you don't have to wait for us to die before you can enjoy what we are leaving to you. Here's what the attorney suggested."

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

Perhaps you could put your need to be needed into helping as a volunteer to newborns or something. Or take up a hobby.

What your daughter is trying to say to you is to let her do it herself. She is trying to make her way in the world good/bad/ugly with her husband. As a unit they are trying to find their way and their standard of living.

So please back off for now and help when asked. You will save a lot of anger and resentment on both sides. Time to cut the cord so to speak and let her do her own thing. Other people have given you good advice so I won't repeat it. We all want to feel needed.

the other S.

1 mom found this helpful
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