Difficulties with daughter
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|Fri, 03-08-2013 - 9:58pm|
I'm not sure where to start or how to tell this story, but the bottom line is that I've had a troubled relationship with my daughter for a very long time. She is often at odds witih other family members too, but I am the one she has the most hostility for. She is now 40 and I am 60. The difficulties go back to her teenaged years when she began to say that she didn't want to be anything like us (her father and me) and started getting involved with people and things most parents would want to keep their kids away from. I'll say that her choices brought her into contact with unsavory situations. We never understood why she would be motivated to be "nothing like us," considering that we had a comfortable home and loving family life. We thought she would grow out of it, but still ... during those teenaged years, we devoted a lot of energy to keeping her from self-destruction. We also took her to counseling for years. No matter how much we tried to offer guidance and support, she continually chose a bad path. Even though nicer kids and boys invited her places early on, she would turn them down to go off with these shady characters. It's not that our judgment was ultra conservative; these were usually people who had been in jail or likely to end up there and who had dropped out of school. She would say that other people were "boring".
As you can imagine, she did not outgrow the difficult period. She ended up with a man who seemed better than the rest at first because he had a job and was not overtly headed for trouble. However, it became clear that he did not treat her well and did not really care about her. She pursued him relentlessly and ended up getting pregnant - twice. The first time he forced her to have an abortion (which he told her to pay for). The second time, she moved in with him and they eventually got married, with family pressure. That was 18 years ago. They now have 3 kids, from 3-18, each of which she "surprised" him with because she knew he did not want children. It has been a bad situation over the years and keeps getting worse. He is emotionally and financially abusive to her, and they live in poor circumstances while he drinks and gambles - not to the point of losing everything but providing just enough to give them only the most basic of food and shelter. Our daughter did finish an associates degree in early childhood education before marriage, but she has not been able to find work that pays well or is close enough to home (you can imagine that she does not have a reliable vehicle). We have tried to encourage her to go back to school and maybe even become independent of him, but she is not interested. It is probably a typical abusive pattern of dysfunction and chaos, then they make up. Of course, it is distressing to us.
Over the years, we have maintained a "close" relationship, if you can call it that. What the relationship amounts to is that she calls frequently and wants someone to talk to. It doesn't necessarily matter who it is, her father, me, or any other person (and I really mean any), as long as the person listens to her stories without questioning her in any way. If questioned, she becomes irrate. She doesn't talk about anything that involves having insight, but often about people she's at odds with. She's convinced she's always right and has put herself on a pedestal, especially as a mother, convinced that she's just the greatest even though their household is truly crazy, with fighting, swearing, and no respect whatsoever for their home - walls kicked, etc. it's not just between her and her husband, although they fight plenty; her older kids have joined in as well. And the truth is that their household is also extremely unkept, and I'm trying not to use another word but there is an emphasis on "extremely". I hate to admit this but I dread going to visit them. It literally makes me cringe.
Another part of our relationship is that it is completely one-sided. I do not talk about myself, having learned that no matter what I say, she will snap at me. For instance, if I say I'm sick, she will snap that lots of people get sick and it's "no big deal". If I say that I have to go to work, she will snap that she's just as busy, more so of course. You get the idea. I have learned to not say anything at all and to not share anything about my life with her. This has gone on for many years. And that's just fine with her - she doesn't ask! She just talks, often complaining about someone or something (and truthfully, she can be funny telling a story). I accept all of this and just try to make the best of it, hoping that her life and our relationship might be better in the future. But the worst part is, whenever the mood strikes her, she is downright abusive to me. And that is fairly frequent. I am her scapegoat. She tells me I'm a terrible mother. She resents that her dad and I have a good relationship after 41 years and that he treats me well. To write some of the things she has said is too painful, so I will leave it to your imagination, but believe me, she is cruel and filled with hostility toward me. I am not a perfect person by any means, but I know I do not deserve her treatment. I feel bad for her but I also feel sad for myself, that I do not have a loving relationship with my daughter, even at these late ages. I don't know if there is "advice" really, but I just wanted to write my story.