feedback please? setting boundaries with adult child

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-10-2002
feedback please? setting boundaries with adult child
9
Wed, 12-18-2013 - 2:28am

Would really appreciate some feedback on what would be the healthiest.    I am stuck and struggling.   I've decided that this year i am not going to all my usuall efforts for Christmas with one of my daughters.  This following note explains why. 

I am trying to no longer just ignore or enable the disrespectful dysfunctional behavior that has gone on for ages.   I am wondering is if I should send the note to her or just send card, no gifts without the note.    One of the things I value is communication so the note would up front explain why there are no gifts this year.  Or should I send no note and let her guess and just fade into the sunset. 

Thanks  I know this is such a busy time but wold appreciate this soon.

Sending letters, gifts, cards or messages are one way I reach out to stay connected and build relationship with the people that I love.   I send these things because I care. When they are not acknowledged, it leaves me wondering:  Did you receive them? Do you value them? Do you care? And I wonder what action to take in the future. Back in May, I sent a letter to you inviting your ideas, wants, needs on how we want be a part of each other’s lives, including holidays and special occasions.    Since I have not heard anything from you I’ll assume this is not so important to you.  I could be wrong but until I hear otherwise from you I will not really know how you feel.

Since I have little idea if the efforts I make are of value to you, I am refraining from my usual holiday efforts this year but send this little card to wish all of you a wonderful Christmas.

Love as always,

Avatar for lizmvr
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-06-2001

I don't know that you need to spell out that you send cards, etc. to keep in touch and nurture relationships. I mean, you are her mother, and you already taught her this, right? If she hasn't kept in touch, hasn't told you how she'd like your relationship to be, it's likely she doesn't really want a close relationship with you. I'm sure that you could argue that you deserve such a relationship, but you can't force anyone, not even your own child, to have that with you. You can't force her to tell you why she doesn't want it either.

If you want to have any sort of relationship with her going forward, I think the best option might be to build one little by little, not by spelling out your expectations, but by just going with the flow and the tone that's set now and hoping that it progresses. Maybe if you respect her wishes to not have a close relationship right now, she'll start to feel more comfortable with a relationship growing. I don't know that a Christmas card is the best way to help this with the words you've chosen. Why not just wish her well and leave it at that? That to me seems more loving.

Liz


Clinical Research Associate


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Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998

Its hard to give a yes or no answer without knowing the backstory, such as if your relationship with her was always rocky, or if something happened that triggered her distance, etc. But I'm thinking that this may not be the time of year to send such a note instead of the usual gift. There have been a few times when I considered not giving gifts to one of my kids but always figured that on Christmas morning I might regret that decision, and let the "giving" part of the season set the tone. 

So I think my advice is to not send that note right now. If you're really not feeling that you want to give her a gift then just send a nice card wishing her well. If you are more ambivalent you could include a check, for whatever amount you feel like (whether she cashes it will tell you a lot LOL) Later you can send the note explaining your feelings.

I know how it feels to be disappointed by how your grown kid treats you. Since it is someone that you love unconditionally its important to at least keep the door open for a future relationship. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-10-2002

Thank you for your input.  OK, so that is what I've been doing for years.  Just being there, going with the flow. Not saying anything.  Not setting any limits.  Giving unconditionally.   I think I may have created a monster in which I've ended up being treated with disrespect or my kids thinking Mom has no needs.  I did think I  taught them better but may have taught them that Mom is the giving tree and the punching bag.   So, I've decided to do something different this year.   

I know I can not force anything with anyone but i can let them know how I feel and where I stand.  I actually thought that would be kinder than saying nothing, keeping on ignoring that she ignores me. She can choose to do whatever she wants.   

But as you can see, I am in a lot of cofusion about this..let her know, or continue to say nothing and ignore that she has ignored me. 

    If ever there is an other opportunity to say something I will.  When I wrote this I thought this was the opportunity to be clear.   No more trying to communicate with little or no response. At least her silence is better than the years of outright hostility or years and years of no communication, I used to get from her.  If she is interested in knowing why I am not going all out this year in her direction she can ask.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-10-2002

If this is coming across as I am trying to get her to do something, I do not want that. 

I just wanted to get across that since her behavior is telling me that what I do give is not of value, I will no longer keep on doing that.  When she does communicate to me what she wants then i will know what to do.  That I am now choosing to be in relationships with adults, inluding her,  in which there is a healthy give and take.   Maybe just silently changing what I do is just fine rather than explaining it.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-10-2002

Thanks ELC.....Both of these posters have helped.  Writing the note was good for me-got me very clear.   Yes, a long rocky road with this one.  With a few wonderful respistes that suddenly turn ugly with long silences again with absolutely no explaination of what causes the sudden turns either way. Walking in a minefield is how I feel with her.    IWith all my kids except one, it seems they just have not gotten past their adolescent "brattiness" to me. Some with just quiet disdain, others with outright abuse and contempt.   I just keep quietly being there, going with the flow, taking it, ignoring it, "taking the high road" not saying anything.

EArlier his year I decided no more.   I did write a very loving letter to each of them acknowledging all the love we all have for each other and also the struggle we seem to have for conection, inviting their ideas about this and how they would like  to stay connected with me and each other, get past the blocks, create new traditions, etc.  Letting them know I am available and willing to talk with them if they wish.  Only one even acknowledged getting the letter.

I am clear  I want adult relationships with my kids if I have any relationship at all.   They are all in their early to late 30s and there are 8 grandkids involved.  And also that any adult relationship I have in my life now, including those with my kids, is to be respectful with a healthy give and take and communication.  I know it will take time but has to start somewhere,  I made that decision early this year that,   Mom, the giving tree and punching bag is no more. 

Now i am just trying to figure out that that looks.  Thus the question about whether or not to send a note with my new behavior.  

Thanks

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-10-2002

Thanks ELC.....Both of these posters have helped.  Writing the note was good for me-got me very clear.   Yes, a long rocky road with this one.  With a few wonderful respistes that suddenly turn ugly with long silences again with absolutely no explaination of what causes the sudden turns either way. Walking in a minefield is how I feel with her.  Once in the last 10 years have any of the gifts, messages, letters been acknowledged by her.  

With all my kids except one, it seems they just have not gotten past their adolescent "brattiness" to me. Some with just quiet disdain, others with outright abuse and contempt.   I just keep quietly being there, going with the flow, taking it, ignoring it, "taking the high road" not saying anything.

EArlier his year I decided no more.   I did write a very loving letter to each of them acknowledging all the love we all have for each other and also the struggle we seem to have for conection, inviting their ideas about this and how they would like  to stay connected with me and each other, get past the blocks, create new traditions, etc.  Letting them know I am available and willing to talk with them if they wish.  Only one even acknowledged getting the letter.

I am clear now  I want adult relationships with my kids if I have any relationship at all.   They are all in their early to late 30s and there are 8 grandkids involved.  I know it will take time but has to start somewhere,  I made that decision early this year that,   Mom, the giving tree and punching bag is no more.  Any adult relationship I have in my life now, including those with my kids, is to be respectful with a healthy give and take and communication.

Now i am just trying to figure out that that looks., especially with the kids.  Thus the question about whether or not to send a note eplaining  my new behavior.  

Thanks

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-12-2011

I completely understand where you are coming from. Been there and done that with my adult son. When I wrote him a letter telling him how I felt and how I'm always sending him gifts for his birthday and Christmas and how he couldn't so much as send me a Mother's Day card. It ended up being a big blow up  and we stopped speaking for over a month and I refused to send him anything for his birthday. He did however get my message and started to do better, when he realized how his behavior hurt and bothered me.  What we do for our children we do out of love for them and we want them to at least acknowledge or appreciate our gifts and kindness. Unfortunately our children take us for granted and for what can sometimes be a sacrifice for us to send gifts they take for granted and don't even feel the need call and thank us for the gift. Because for them it is expected that we would give them gifts.I understand feeling the need to tell your daughter what is on your mind, but Christmas may not be the best time to do it. I would just send the card with no explanation and if she calls to ask you why no gifts. I would simply say it's strange that you don't call when I send gifts, but when I don't you can call and then tell her what has been bothering you for years. I wish you the best because it is not easy confronting adult children about their bad behavior but sometimes we just have to do it because all that resentment will build up inside of us.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2004

I have been there, I swear.

Sometimes I think that actions speak louder than words,and also kids take their moms for granted. I wouldn´t send the note, explainig my feelings. If you need it to take things out, you can but a notebook and write her a letter taking out all you want (even bad words, lol), but this letter is not to be sent, you can burn it when you are done. 

My DH didn´t give me any present (not even a simple flower) my 60th birthday, when see turned 40, she asked me for a present and in a nice calmed way I told her "Well, you didn´t give anything for my 60th birthday" Then she apologized. It is not that I´m revengful or mean, but when you don´t get anything , your heart is not very willing to give. I got an apologize and that was enough for me.

When kids are small you give even if you are not feeling well, or it means a sacrifice for you, but I don´t think it is the same with adult kids.

 

Probably you have taught her that you allways, will be there for her and you seem to be tired of the same.

She seems to be happy the way things are, so ¿why she needs to change?

If you change, she might change or not, only God knows.

It is good to fight for relationship, but it is not good to fight alone.

 

IMPO, actions speak louder than words.

 

Good luck to you!

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-10-2002

Sonyserg, Yes, it is not about being revengeful or getting back.  It is really about wanting a healthy adult relationship.  It is so not about revenge it is healthy boundaries.    Where there is mutual give and take.  Theri are few things more upsetting than to try to comunicate when there is little or no response. You sound like you do know exactly what I am talking about. 

The relationship with this one has a long history of her seeming to be mad at me, me trying very hard to please her. Long periods of time where she does not talk to me, even did not tell me about my youngest grandson until he was 6 months old.   Then the letters , phone calls started and i thought once more we could slowly try to build something.  Then a year later boom, the snarky comments and no talking to me again for years.  Then 5 years ago  we all showed up at a family get together and things have been cordial but distant since then.  Occassionally she has sent me a thoughtful gift or note but when I respond with a thank you it never gets past this cordial distance.  I am treating her like I would any other adult in my life. the relationship flows forward or does not.  . 

  Yes, I would love to clear the air with her and know where we stand what kind of relationship she wants,  some adult communication. But like you said, that will either happen or it won't.  No matter what I love her but no more can be the "giving tree"    I have too much life to live to be chopped down to a stump.  After four major times of really opening my heart to her and having the door slammed, some trust was broken.  Love her yes,   but trust no.  She is an amazing woman who I would love to get to know better and I believe we would like each other if given a chance. But it does take two.  So it is sad.   Maybe her visit with her sister will be enlightening.

So how are things going with you?  There are so many of us. Those who have not been there can not understand.