Avatar
Please consider registering
guest
sp_LogInOut Log In sp_Registration Register
Register | Lost password?
Advanced Search
Forum Scope


Match



Forum Options



Minimum search word length is 3 characters - maximum search word length is 84 characters
sp_TopicIcon
Daughter is coming home for a "visit"
July 29, 2005
2:15 am
Avatar
jwt
New Member
Members
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 30, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

I haven't posted here in a while but I need some other perspectives on a real problem for me.

Our 23-year-old daughter is coming back to our town from far away for a 3-day visit. We haven't seen her since last October when we drove 23 hours to take a load of her things out to her in her new home.

Our daughter has been very cold toward her mother and I for the past three years. The coldness began when we received a telephone call from someone we didn't really know in our town. They told us a story about our daughter's claim that she had an inoperable brain tumor and had only a short time to live. She had been telling everyone that we had abandoned her to die. All of this was totally untrue. We had been paying her tuition, room and board to an out of state university. Our conversations with her were filled with glowing reports about how well everything was going. It turned out that wasn't true either.

The other couple had discovered her lies and the con job she was playing on them. They were throwing her out their home where she had been staying. We went over there and found her sitting and shivering on the curb in winter clothes on a 100-degree day. She claimed that she was hooked on oxycoden. We took her to the emergency room and they could find no trace of drugs. She was totally out of control and threatening to leave immediately to go back to school. We knew she was a very sick little girl so we had her admitted involuntarily for a 3-day observation.

She was no better when she was released. We wanted her to stay home and get whatever treatment she needed before she returned to school. We told her that we would not continue to pay for her college unless she stayed and got some help. Nevertheless, she convinced a friend to pick her up and she left the next day.

We continued to pay for her food, needed clothes and medical care. We arranged for her to see the school counseling services. She went a few times and gave the doctors permission to talk with us. Their initial suspicion was that she was bipolar but were unable to complete their evaluation because she stopped going to see them. According to the doctors she was convinced that her problems were physical and not mental.

She had complained of severe headaches and saw a neurologist near the university for several years. From what we understand, the doctor never found a physical cause for the headaches.

She says that she graduated from the university and now has a master's degree from a university where she is now living. We don't know what to believe. We haven't seen a grade card since she was a freshman. While we want to believe her, we still remember all of the lies she has told us and everyone else for many years.

Other than medical bills, she hasn't asked for much financial support in several months and claims that she has a job. When we call, she is always too busy to talk beyond what is absolutely necessary to say.

I'm sure we will see her when she returns. However, right now, she says that she doesn't know where she will be staying when she is here or what her plans are.

She is our only child. We love her and worry about her all the time. We don't have a clue how to break through the wall she has built between us. Nothing we do or say seems to matter to her.

It seems that no matter how she treats us, we won't turn our backs on her. Maybe we just believe in the power of love.

I blame myself for being so busy with my career and life that I missed the warning sings that were there when she was a young as 14. So much of this might have been avoided if I had been a better parent.

This is so hard for us.

July 29, 2005
6:23 pm
Avatar
New Member
Members
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 29, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

~ jwt ~

I don't really know what to say - how to offer the kind of support you need. My heart goes out to you and your beloved ones.

I can imagine it must be very hard to let go of your adult daughter given the fact that you don't know where all this is heading. You wanna make sure your child is safe, healthy and doing well but past experiences have taught you that a great amount of uncertainty is involved where her where-abouts and well-being are concerned. Burdening you and your wife with a great deal of stress I suppose. I wouldn't be surprised if (mutual) trust is gone too. Anyway, you cannot "make" her be or act accountable to you even if you would like to keep her on a (financial) string. It's not my intention to hurt your feelings in any way, I am only trying to be upfront with you. However, I do realize my last remark may be hard to swallow.

And then there are these feelings of guilt you may have, probably combined with some inner beliefs or convictions of not having done enough. Or been enough for her. Because you may feel responsible for her "condition" or situation, the way she (her life) turned out so far.

You assume that "she" - the way she "is" - and you - who you "are" or have been as parents - are somehow connected or related (linear?). But the truth in my view is that the person she has become is actually the product of a whole range of factors (genetically determined or otherwise), most of which have probably been out of your control or influence from the very beginning. So what I am trying to say here is that even if she had been raised by different parents, she could have developed this more or less 'dysfunctional' (maladaptive) behavior. Moreover, as far as I can tell, "we" don't know why she does what she is doing (telling lies, overspending, evasive or avoidant behavior etc), do we?

by telling these lies about her medical condition to "strangers" - that she is suffering from an inoperable brain tumor and has only a short time to live - she seems to want to induce feelings of pity for her ("please feel sorry for me") and in addition, persuade people into taking care of her. By telling everyone her parents had abandoned her to die, she basically is giving you the message that you are an "inadequate" or "unfit" parent. As parents, according to her you were supposed or expected to come to her "rescue" but you fell short or failed to meet her expectations in this regard. So her behavior can be interpreted as a guilt-provoking strategy to get people where you want them (wrapping them around her thumb?). By playing the helpless and powerless (out of control) "victim". This is exactly the behavioral pattern you've been rewarding all these years with your obviously well-meant care-taking. So by making a lot of important decisions for her (f.e.: food, clothes, medical care), you are actually teaching her to be dependent on you ("learned helplessness") or on anyone else but herself which is undermining her sense of autonomy, in particular her feelings of self-reliance and self-confidence. As a consequence, now that she's come of age, she has never learned to take full responsibility for her own well-being. In a way, by continuing to take care of her (finances, housing, clothing), you are keeping her in the child-role by "rewarding" ineffective behavioral skills. Ofcourse she may be uncapable to properly look after herself because of some medical condition or personality disorder. She may need some kind of "structured" living arrangement (therapeutic group). As a therapist I assume you know what I am referring to.

You don't know how to break through the wall you feel she has built between her and you as parents. Your daughter may perceive her reality as divergent from your perspective. Maybe she feels her parents are the 'wall' you are talking about. I wouldn't know, but it certainly is a possibility to be reckoned with. There may not be a way for you as a parent to break through any wall whatsoever. Her repeated attempts to stay far away from home or to kinda "sabotage" your help may be symbolic of her (power?) struggle to break away from this 'caretaking' pattern where she's continuously put into the position of the dependent child-role, having to answer for everything she does.

Since, as you may know, I've read a lot of your previous threads about your family and work life, I'd strongly suggest you to arrange some kind of family therapy (family system theory) for the three of you if you all are willing and motivated to agree to it (where she is based out of your home, living at campus or somewhere else). The three of you have to be treated on equal footing (with your daughter attending her sessions separate from her parents). A family therapist is specialized in observing and evaluating your "family script" (role playing) and in intervention techniques of "re-writing" it (how to learn "new" behavior or reactions). You may all benefit from this. Not only your daughter. So its probably never too late to start again, creating a second chance for the three of you. What do you think ?

I hope this will be helpful to you, true

July 29, 2005
8:06 pm
Avatar
vesper
New Member
Members
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 29, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

jwt,

As a parent of grown children, I know how this must feel. I read true's answer and it read like a therapist. And as I guess, being new to this site, you are also. As therapists, the hardest job is our own problems and family. Who does a therapist go to for therapy?

Anyway, my advice. Welcome her with open arms. Tell her you want her to stay with you. Let her know how glad you are to see her and have her home. Don't judge what she is telling you until you have talked with her.

Good luck.

July 29, 2005
10:13 pm
Avatar
gingerleigh
New Member
Members
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 30, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Hey JWT. Welcome back. I wish I knew what to say about your daughter. I'm sure others will have better advice.

How are things going with you otherwise?

July 30, 2005
5:33 am
Avatar
New Member
Members
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 29, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

~ jwt ~ hello again !

what I meant yesterday by saying she could be involved in some kind of struggle to break free or away from you is, that she might do all the things she does - beating around the bush (circumvent), being sneaky or evasive about her activities or whereabouts, taking off all of a sudden etc.etc. - because it is her "method" or way to resist feeling or being controlled (maybe even wanting to detach?) - showing rebellious behavior in a passive, indirect manner (not openly) like people "going underground".

best wishes, your friend, true

July 30, 2005
9:00 am
Avatar
jwt
New Member
Members
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 30, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Thanks for the responses.

gingerleigh, how are things going with me otherwise? Tolerable. I cope day to day with things at home and at work. I may not be perfectly happy with either situation but I try to focus on those things that give me some peace and satisfaction. I hope all is well with you.

vesper, we have not seen our daughter since October and miss her very much. We want her visit to be as pleasant and positive as we can make it for everyone. Your advice is exactly how we feel. We plan to welcome her with open arms and be grateful for whatever time she gives us.

[email protected], very interesting comments that really do seem to reflect our daughter's attitude toward the situation.

I think you are very correct about our daughter's rebelliousness and evasiveness ... it is purely an effort to break free of us. It's been her method since she was a little girl. For example, she absolutely refused to clean her room (you probably would not have believed the filth) or to wear long pants when it was 0 degrees outside.

And, yes, I do believe she sees us as the "wall" but I'm not sure why.

From childhood, she chaffed and resisted any of our, mostly unsuccessful, attempts to affect her behavior or to set any kind of guidelines. I honestly don't think we were unreasonable ... things like don't trash the house or provide us with even the most basic information about her activities.

And, we always seemed to have real problems telling her no and then sticking with that decision. We wanted her to be happy. For example, when she was "grounded” for something, we would routinely give in and allow her to go somewhere that seemed personally important to her.

We knew from her comments to others that she viewed us as a bottomless pit of money. We committed our life savings, nearly $100,000, to send her to a very expensive out of state university. We did it because she had her heart set on it and we knew she would get a good education. The only real accountability we asked in return was copies of her grade cards. Of course, we saw nothing after her freshman year.

Regardless of the money we sent her, she always seemed to owe someone money that she was unable or unwilling to pay. She would never tell us about these problems. We would usually find out about them when someone would call our house trying to collect a debt from her. When we questioned her about the calls, she would tell us that the debts were not owed and that the other people were making unreasonable demands on her. At the beginning, we believed her and took her side with these disputes. In those situations where it was clear that she owed the money, we would pay whatever was needed to get her out of the problem.

It eventually became clear to us that she had no intention of taking responsibility for her financial life. We tried to encourage her to work out arrangements to pay her debts and offered to help her make the payments. She usually just ignored the problem and did nothing. Now, we just hang up when they call the house and send her an email about the call. We have no idea what she does about them. We are sure that her credit rating must be in the minus range somewhere. She is going to have to learn this responsibility on her own. Plus, we no longer have the money to bail her out of every jam she gets herself into.

I guess, [email protected], I'm explaining this to give you an explanation about why we began to buy her food and clothes. We did it because just sending her money was no guarantee that she would have something to eat or warm clothes in the winter. She may have seen it as control but we wanted to be sure that her basic needs were met. As for her medical bills, we were involved because she is still covered under our insurance.

The one aspect of this whole situation that worries us the most is the lies. She tells fantastic stories and is an excellent liar. It is very easy to believe her stories and explanations. But, I think her lies have both a practical and emotional purpose for her.

For example, I think she told people that we abandoned her because many would be more willing to assist her financially. I don't think she expected the stories to get back to us. But, I do believe that it reflected her desire to be free of any ties to us. And, yes, it does hurt a lot to discover that someone you love feels that way about you.

We have given up any efforts to control or even influence anything she does. We simply want her to know how much we love her and that we want her to be a part of our life.

Hindsight can be an interesting perspective. We can see some of the mistakes we've made. But, we can't understand why or how things have gotten to this point. We don't understand why she seems to hate us so much. She was never abused and we always tried to do what we could to make her happy. [email protected], you seem to have somewhat of a handle on her perspective. What do you think?

July 30, 2005
12:04 pm
Avatar
New Member
Members
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 29, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

~ jwt ~

I think you should follow up my advice and consider consulting a good family therapist (and talk to your daughter about this idea as well, if she is willing to cooperate and take part in therapy). That is, if your and her goal is to continue (or ensure) being a part of eachother's life.

Because the history with your daughter goes a long way and, in my view, runs outside the range (purpose?) of this board.

The fact that she desires to detach or to be free of any ties from you doesn't mean she don't love you, so be careful as to not take her behavior as a (personal) rejection of you (and of your wife). Her way of dealing with people, events or situations can be her way to mask or conceal a feeling of powerlessness lying underneath a deceptive surface.

And then there's this boundary issue between all of you (learned co-dependency: a more or less (co-)dependent way of relating towards eachother?). Blurred boundaries or boundary dissolution (I don't know if this is the appropriate word in this particular context)?

Your daughter probably also has grown this "habit" of making unreasonable demands on her surroundings (= other people, mom and dad)- ..... - jwt, where and how do you think she has picked up this type or style of "coping" with life or reality?

Jwt - have a great weekend (by all means, do make yourself happy !), best wishes, true

August 2, 2005
8:25 pm
Avatar
Tristan
New Member
Members
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 24, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

jwt, I so resonate with your pain. My 26 year old daughter has yet to find her path. She quit high school, had a baby whom she gave up for adoption (My husband and I have a fair amount of contact with him, and he is thriving with his new parents, but I still grieve about having given him up). She got in serious trouble with the law, and lived with a series of dangerous and/or unstable men. After many years of therapy, tutoring, and special schools, she was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 20. Finding the right medications is a slow process with bipolar and she had several setbacks, but she's now relatively stable, takes her medication, and keeps regular appointments with her doctor.

She has a pattern of blaming others for her difficulties--teachers, school administrators, friends, boyfriends, her father, and me. (Her biological father and I became estranged after we divorced and he became abusive toward her--she now says he molested her as a child, and I've taken my share of responsibility for not seeing that ).

She has never held a job. She has been in college for 3 1/2 years without completing two years of course credit. She is highly intelligent, though learning-disabled in math. Her stepdad (with whom she has a great relationship) and I have encouraged her to seek a vocational path that wouldn't require math and science, but could allow her to use her verbal/writing gifts. She's never followed my advice or direction (even as a little girl), no matter how gentle or emphatic I've made it.

So this is my problem: I sound like I'm whining, but I'm angry and anxious. I don't want to be angry, and I want to contain my own anxiety for everyone's sake. I respect her real pain; living with bipolar disorder is hard, her academic challenges were real, and her biological father was truly destructive. I want to treat her as an adult--but I'm continuing to cover her health insurance and her car expenses because I can't bear the thought of her getting in more trouble or going through the agony of another breakdown. (I still have the image of standing in front of a judge with my heart in my throat as the real possibility of her going to prison washed over me, after an episode when she was off her meds).

My husband is great. We've been married 11 years, his relationship with my daughter is positive and supportive, and he's the best resource she has when it comes to problem-solving and planning--although she rarely follows through with his suggestions either. I love her and she knows that--but I've felt trounced on for a very long time now.

She is in a 2+ year live-in relationship with a young man who is hard-working and devoted. She's been unfaithful to him, which shouldn't be my business, except that the young man with whom she got involved called me asking for an explanation, and sent a dozen roses to her at our house. She is financially dependent on her boyfriend. I am afraid that their relationship is tenuous at best.

I am exhausted with drama, and financially and emotionally drained. My mother is in the last stages of Alzheimer's. I want to stay supportive of my parents, as well as my stepsons and my grandsons--not to mention my sweet husband, who has supported me through all this. I have much to be thankful for, and I want to enjoy my life.

Thanks for listening to this. I live in a small town, and I'm a well known therapist. People are aware of the situation, but I don't talk about it much around here. This dilemma is pretty lonely for me.

Forum Timezone: UTC -8
Most Users Ever Online: 349
Currently Online:
32
Guest(s)
Currently Browsing this Page:
1 Guest(s)
Top Posters:
onedaythiswillpass: 1134
zarathustra: 562
StronginHim77: 453
free: 433
2013ways: 431
curious64: 408
Member Stats:
Guest Posters: 49
Members: 110959
Moderators: 5
Admins: 3
Forum Stats:
Groups: 8
Forums: 74
Topics: 38560
Posts: 714252
Newest Members:
charli55, SeaG1ant, shawncanwe, lianot, dagaf, duminy
Moderators: arochaIB: 1, devadmin: 9, Tincho: 0, Donn Gruta: 0, Germain Palacios: 0
Administrators: admin: 21, ShiningLight: 572, emily430: 29

Copyright © 2020 MH Sub I, LLC. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | Health Disclaimer | Do Not Sell My Personal Information