Why Do I Feel Guilty About Cutting My Disrespectful 45 Year Old Daughter Off?

Updated on October 24, 2018
D.B. asks from Fayetteville, NC
8 answers

I recently spent three weeks with two of my daughters, I have three and one son. The three weeks we spent together was at my own mother's house because it was my time to provide caregiving for her as she is 90 and should not be left alone too much. Anyway, I took my 45 -year old daughter with me as I had invited her to come visit and provided her transportation via railway. While we were there, my daughter became very disrespectful towards me and even told my own mother lies on me. The other daughter that was with me is 24, she just turned 24 while we were at my mom's and she also lives with me. Well to say the least, she too was disrespectful to me, but she did not perform in front of my mother as the older one did and has since apologized. This would not be the first time my daughter has behaved in this manner, I can recall numerous occasions. My daughter is a veteran and is considered bi polar, she suffers from depression and is receiving treatment, and that was the reason I invited her to visit, as she was talking about checking herself into a mental facility as she was feeling alone and tired of her situation which is a whole other matter entirely. When I asked her if she would want to come visit, she said yes and knowing she has no other way to get to me, I provided her transportation. I'm thinking this would give her the opportunity to spend time with me, her grandmother and her sister which she had not seen for about a year and possibly lift her spirits. She lived with me for a year or more after going through a divorce and being released from the military and a government job. I believe her depression plays a major role in what goes wrong in her life; not to make excuses for her, but she has gone to some things. Knowing that she has certain issues, I overlook some of the issues I have with her, but I've also come to realize that the way she behaves towards me is singular, as she does it to no one else. It's as if she has some type of vendetta against me. During the time that she lived with me, she stole, lied, pried into my personal belongings, disrespected me and even broke into my bedroom one day while I was at work. The simple chore of washing dishes proved too much for her. I actually initiated legal proceedings to have her evicted from my house, as she refused to leave on her own but never followed through with it. She had a very negative effect on my youngest daughter, now 24, this was over 10 years ago and whenever they are together, she still has that same effect on her, as she witnessed a great deal during that time. To get to my point, I put her back on the train for her to go home over one month ago, and I have not spoken to her since. She normally calls every single day, talks for hours, sends numerous e-mails and is usually in need of some financial assistance. She has sent me one e-mail since which I did not even read as it was not pertaining to anything personal. That's another thing, when she has been disrespectful to me and finally reaches out to me afterwards, she never, and I say never, apologies for her behavior or actions. I refuse to put myself in that position again, mothers get tired too! So why the guilt?

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answers from Washington DC on

i don't know why you feel guilty. probably because you're a mom, and this is your daughter, and presumably you love her and this is a complex situation generating complex emotions.

i think it's fine to have good solid boundaries around your relationship with your daughter, including not having her live with you, and i guess no longer taking her to visit your mother, or having her around your younger daughter.

i'm baffled by inviting her to come with you on THIS visit, though, in lieu of having her do the sensible thing and check into a professional mental facility as she wanted. did you think you would do a better job diagnosing and handling her PTSD?

it sounds as if you're punishing her with silence and waiting for an apology. under many circumstances that would make sense. but with your daughter, who has served the country and developed mental illness because of it, it seems pretty harsh.

surely there's something inbetween cutting her off completely and letting her live with and steal from you.

a little compassion would not go amiss.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think that you need to seek help for your co-dependent issues. You have a 45 year old who speaks abusively towards you - to the point that it affected your now 24 yr old still living at home (what?).

The common denominator here is you. What are YOU doing that is creating this situation with your own adult children over and over again.

Seek therapy for yourself and find out what your role in this is. Perhaps invite your other adult children to be heard as well as my guess is you will only tell the therapist how YOU have been wronged, rather than share the entire story. Clearly there IS more to the story here.

Good luck.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I suggest you can protect yourself without this drama. You know she's mentally ill, makes life difficult for you and is thinking of checking herself into a mental facility. Yet you invite her to visit instead of encouraging her to get professional help. When one has bipolar, a visit with mom, especially when that relationship is strained, is not going to help her feel and act better. Did you really think her visit would be helpful for either one of you?

I agree that spending time apart to recover from the conflict is a good idea. If you mean separation for years, I suggest you're adding to the drama. I think sending her back home was helpful for all of you. However, sending her back home should have happened the second or third day would have been better.

I suggest you feel guilty because you think a mom should sacrifice her own well being to care for your children. Seems you think you should've toughed it out and kept her with you. I suggest you also feel guilty because you and your daughter are angry. Consider that anger is the appropriate response. It is not your responsibility to make your daughter happy. As you see in this situation, you cannot help your daughter find happiness. You can take care of yourself by not inviting her in the first place.

I urge you to get counseling to learn why you feel responsible for your daughters happiness. Why you sacrifice your own happiness to do this.

I also suggest you read about codependency. Codependency is about needing to do for others in order for one to feel good about themselves. You can find information on the web. There are also books you can read.

I also suggest you learn more about a bipolar diagnosis and what you can
expect in the way of feelings and behaviour. If you're feeling that you, in some way, is a cause of her illness, know you are not. You have nothing to make up to her for her illness.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

There are many reasons why people feel guilty for things, and often it's because they think they are either responsible for causing it or responsible for fixing it. If your daughter is mentally ill, you can and should be sympathetic, but you didn't cause it and you cannot fix it.

If your daughter was really thinking about checking herself into a facility, I'm not sure why you decided to talk her out of it. Did you think that putting her in your mother's home with a sister who is 20 years younger would fix it? I think you might reconsider that - consider supporting her as she seeks more intensive treatment. She's got quite a burden to carry, but it sounds like you wanted it to be a family fun fantasy. That's unrealistic. You not only equated a visit with you with intensive, focused therapy when she was so down, you kind of encouraged her to run away from her problem and then you put her right in the situation that had been tense and problematic before (life with you). I'm not saying you caused the initial problem with lying and stealing, but you invited her into an environment with pretty bad memories for both of you.

Then you turned her illness into a "vendetta" against you. That shows a fundamental lack of understanding of mental illness (and you say she has more than one). No one enjoys being in the company of someone who is verbally abusive, but to turn it around as an attack on you is a big stretch.

You invited her, so you should pay for the travel - not expect her to be overly grateful for it. One would think that having everyone together was your idea of a gift to you - perhaps in terms of help with your mother, perhaps in pretending the past problems were over with, perhaps something else.

I think you should not try this again, and perhaps should ask your older daughter if it would help for you to attend a therapy session in her town so you could better understand her issues. You could get some respite care for your mother or perhaps have your 24 year old daughter be in charge of Mom for a few days. But mostly I think you should work with your own therapist to work through this guilt as well as the simmering resentment from a daughter who lied and stole from you.

Mental illness (especially in combination) are not well understood in many cases, and it can be difficult to find the right combination of talk therapy, coping skills and medications to find relief. You don't have to be with someone who abuses you but you really should achieve a better understanding than what you have, and develop a strategy for keeping your distance that you work out over a period of time with a trained professional.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I speak from personal experience when I say please try not to hold the disrespectful things your daughter does against her too much. Please be patient and try your best not to take things too personally, even when she misbehaves toward only you -- at least until your daughter has been on psychotropic medications for a while and has been deemed stable for a few years. She needs your support more than ever.

A person with bipolar disorder certainly can behave respectfully and in socially acceptable manners, sure. However, they can't do this consistently until they have been in treatment for a while and has found the right combination of medications to control their symptoms.

Please don't give up on her and help her through this. Even when she has been found to be stable, you need to continue to keep an eye on her because she will have periods when she'll believe she is "healed" or "cured" from bipolar disorder and stop taking medications when in fact, her compliance with medications was what kept her symptoms at bay, essentially making her "normal." The thing about mental disorders like bipolar disorder is that it's generally a life-long condition. It's not like other medical conditions like a broken bone that can be healed after treatment. This means she'll likely be on medication until she dies. But many people with mental disorders like bipolar disorder erroneously believe they're healed and stop taking medications after a while at which point the symptoms will return with a vengeance.

Please remember that people with bipolar disorder (or other mental disorders) with good family support do sooo much better.

Also, please seek therapy for yourself. It's very difficult to deal with someone with bipolar disorder.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

You have a toxic relationship with your daughter. Nothing you will do or can do will change her behavior and actions.

You need to focus on healing yourself.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I don't know why but it's a good question for a therapist.
It sounds like you all could use a real long extended break from one another.
Your daughters are adults - you are done raising them and have been for quite awhile.

It would be nice if everyone got along but you all don't.
If you met them in the street for the first time and they treated you like this - would you choose to hang out with them? I'd guess you would not.
So don't let the fact that you share DNA be a reason for continuing an association.
Take some time to emotionally close this chapter of your life - and then move on.
You can find some happiness - and so can they - just not with each other.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

You feel guilt because you are her mother. But enough is enough, and you are doing the right thing by giving her and yourself some space.

I disagree with you about the transportation issue. You invited her. You know she couldn’t afford to come otherwise, so stop fussing about the train ticket.

Don’t invite her to places anymore. You should have learned your lesson when she caused all that havoc while living with you. Why did you think things would be different? She is even worse now, if she was thinking of putting herself into a mental facility.

I would only spend time with your younger daughter alone. Not in the presence of your older daughter. You have choices here. You will always be her mother, but you don’t have to put up with bad behavior.

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