Need Advice: My 22 yr old daughter wont talk to me

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2013
Need Advice: My 22 yr old daughter wont talk to me
12
Mon, 05-20-2013 - 8:40am

Hello…

I am new to the group. I am a 46 yr old father of 2 girls (12 and 22) and have been separated for a little bit more than one year.

I have been looking for a place to connect with others who might be in my situation but strange enough, I was not able to find many divorce help groups. The once that I found were mostly to help women struggling with abusive relations, so I hope I am in the right place.

My ex and I got married 22 years ago when we got pregnant with our oldest daughter. After my business failed 4 years ago, we ended up in therapy (again). The therapist told us that her goal was to either help us be happy ever after or to separate. My ex left on the third session. I continued to go to therapy and eventually made the decision that I was never going to grow old with her.

I have learned and grown a lot but the divorce has been the worst experience of my life. After a very difficult process, we ended up in mediation to decide my youngest daughter’s custody and she lives 50/50 with both of us. My little one has adjusted well and is thriving.

My oldest daughter is a very different story. She is graduating from university (With Honours) in one month and has been away from home pretty much through the whole ordeal. I have been a parent to her and my ex has been her friend. I drove her to parties, talk to her when she needed advice, supported her through her university years, help her with problems, I pretty much raised her. I was the parent and my ex was her friend. Five years ago, when my daughter was still in high school, she drank too much and ended up staying at her boyfriend’s house when she had told us she was staying with her girl friend from high school. We found out and I drove to pick her up. Once we got home, I spoke to her about the dangers of what had happened. My ex never even mentioned it to her…

I was VERY close to her but she has taken my ex side and it hurts A LOT. The separation process took over 1 year. I did not leave my ex, we both agree it was the best thing for everyone. I never cheeted, abused her or did anything that can be called demeaning.

She helped my ex pack and move last year but she left me pack alone when I moved. She sees my ex, supports her and comes to her house. In the 15 months we been separated, my oldest girl has been with my ex many, many times alone with many long weekends. She has been with me only 5 days and when she is at my place, you can see that she can’t wait to leave. I am in pain. I have talked to her and she tells me she will talk about it when she is ready (but she never is). At the beginning, she said it was her schedule, by now its obvious and she does not even reply to my emails or phone calls.

I told me ex to talk to her so my girl and I can fix whatever is on her mind, but my ex said she was not getting involved. Again, she is nor a parent she is her friend... She never helps my daughter grow or improve.


Any advice would be much appreciated…

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999

It is sad that your DD is distancing herself from you but I think you should give her time.  don't pressure her to talk about the divorce, just keep trying to contact her & ask her to come over.  Don't whine & make her feel guilty.  Maybe you could arrange to call her at a convenient time every week so you'd at least have that.  You  never know what your ex is telling her.  I recall a person who was on another board--she was married to a guy who had cheated on his exW with her and of course the exW was upset and told the young adult DD, who took the mom's side--they had a very unhappy marriage anyway, not to excuse the cheating.  Well for quite a while the DD didn't want anything to do w/ the father, but he continued to call & make an effort anyway and after some perseverance, the DD & DF did have a good relationship, so all you can do is keep trying.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2013

Thank you for your note musiclover12. I belive that in my questo to have a relationship with her I have done more harm than good. Last summer I was deeply depressed and it hurt me so much that she knew about it and did not cared. I can not comprehend how can she be so cold... Look, I do not want her to take my side, all I want is to be able to call her and know that she loves me. I have allways treated her with respect and it is just dificult to belive that she is acting this way with me...

We never had a "big" problem with her. The lines of communication were always open. She was very open about everything and now this? I felt things begun to shift on her last year of high school. She wanted to get a piercing and I was always talking her out of it. One day, my ex asked me if I could take care of the little one and they both left to the mall, She came back with the piercing.. I was so, so, so sad with my daughter and upset with my ex.. I would had never encourage any of my kids to do something behind my ex, even now. If my daughter had told me it was important to her, I would have supported her decision as much as I had supported her in everything else she had done. Ever since that day, I feel that she learned to do things without me knowing her mom was there. My ex loves that attention because when my daughter was growing up, she was closer to me than to her.

If my daughter had come to me asking me to drive her to do the piercing, I would have said… Yes, I will drive you to have your piercing done “but”, let your mom know!

When she comes to town, she does not even call me to let me know she is around and I have told her before, if you came to my house, I would ask you to let your mom know you’re here. There are principals to have healthy boundaries that have been broken and the worst part is that my ex supports her attitude and has no intention to help neither one of us move forward with our relationship.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-29-2002
I think you need to lower your expectations of both your ex-wife and daughter. First, you are in the process of ending the marriage. Your ex-wife no longer views herself as obligated to do anything that is not stated in the divorce decree. And that includes doing things with your adult daughter, without your direct knowlege. Sure it would be nice if the lines of communication remained open. But from what you have shared, your ex-wife is not interested in maintaining the lines of communication any more than she has to. As for your 22 yo Daughter. She is now an adult, and was approaching legal adult age at 17. She is no longer subject to the same expectations that your 12 yo is subjected to. And she is no longer interested in maintaining a minor child/parent relationship. She is looking to move forward, which is probably why she has been gravitating to her Mom more than you. I would suggest you give her the space she is wanting at this time, and approach your relationship with her differently. As you stated, she is about to graduate college with honours.
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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2013

Yes, I agree. I need to lower my expectations about my daughter, but is it too much to ask to have your own kid reply to a simple email? I know that “legally” you can not make them do that but I did not raised her based on the law, I raised her based on human kindness, empathy and sympathy for others. What about integrity? Dignity? Respect? Is it too much to ask for a simple: Hey, dad, how are you?  Dad, I love you? I have done nothing to her (or her mom) to deserve to be treated in such a diminishing way. She was raised with good values and everyone says she has them… Where is my daughter? I had issue with my parents but I would have never thought to ignore them.

Thank you very much for your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to reply. I guess I am too hurt to know what to do or say.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-29-2002

Regardless of how she was raised, she is a young adult now and she is forging her own priorities.

Yes, it would be nice for her to email you and say "Hey what's up?".  And it isn't too much to ask for, but she has the right to decide for herself.  If she is not interested in doing so, she is not interested.

That is not to say that she is never going to come around.  Nor does it say that she doesn't value you.

It simply the fact that she is learning how to establish her own terms and expectations.  And she too is reconciling on her own terms the end of your marriage.  I have read that older children and adult children tend to have a harder time with a parent's divorce than younger kids do.  It could be, that since she was so close to you as a kid, she doesn't feel the need to maintain or establish a relationship like she is doing with her Mom at this time.  Or it could be that her Mom is accomodating her in a way that you aren't, and she just needs to take it on her own accord.

Th fact of the matter is, your DD does not owe you anything.  And at this time, she maybe asserting that in an effort to help you understand her perspective as well.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999

I have a feeling that your DD doesn't come around that much because you are not that fun to be around.  It's too bad that you were going through depression but you are the dad--it's not your DD's job to be there for you & cheer you up--remember her parents were getting divorced.  It's still a change for her.  You should be there to support her, not the other way around--not to say that you wouldn't do that.  But if you have serious issues, discuss them with your friends, adult relatives or a counselor--don't burden her with your depression.  Maybe she just didn't know how to act around you.  Since my ex has bipolar disorder, I have done a bunch of reading on that & depression.  I know you can't just tell someone to snap out of a depression but maybe she didn't understand it or maybe she felt she was partly responsible for you being depressed, like she tried to cheer you up & it didn't work, so she didn't know what to do.

I also agree that it's not your ex's job to intervene in the relationship w/ your DD--it would be nice but since the divorce is new, you aren't at that place where you are friends.  Your ex just doesn't want to deal with you right now.  Her job is to make sure your young DD visits you when she is supposed to & if she is encouraging and not interfering w/ your visitation rights, that's really all you can ask.  You really shouldn't expect her to tell you every time your older DD visits her--really what good would it do to know that your DD was visiting her mother & she didn't want to come visit you?  When you lay this "guilt" burden on your DD also -- do you actually say "why did you visit mom & not me?" that's another reason she is not going to want to see you.  Why not just ask her to go out & do something fun together that you know she'll enjoy?  My DD & her dad are big sports fans, so he will take her to a game or something, or take her out to dinner.  But we also got divorced when the kids were young so they got pretty used to having to visit mom's house & dad's house (well most of the time, they live(d) with me but they always visited their father about 3x/week) so even now that my DD moved out of state, if she comes home, she always tries to spend time with both of us.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-06-2003

I know the pain you are going through I dealt with very similar problems.  It will work out eventually.  Maybe not to the point that you want, but just know that she loves you.  In the meantime concentrate on yourself, get the divorce finalized and enjoy your life.  Be proud of the fact that she is graduating from the university and is a healthy productive adult.  You did a great job raising her but that task is done.  Don't waste your life trying to figure out what went wrong.  She will be back!

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2013

Camult, musiclover12 and izzyandalexsmommy. Thank you all for your comments.

I was depressed right after my ex left the marital home but the depression lasted about 3 to 5 months. I have been doing well for over 10 months now. I am sad, very sad, but not depressed. My sadness has to do more with my daughter than with my ex. I never really asked my daughter to carry me on her shoulders. All I wanted was to know that she care for me...  I separated from my ex not from my daughter.

I can see how people say that she is an adult and she can do whatever she wants but that is not right… I mean, sure. Anyone can do anything they want but, I am talking about someone I raised based on principals and good moral values. I am talking about someone that has been a good kid with no problems. It was such a treat to raised her to be an independent young adult. How can things turn so bad?

I send her an email once a week or every other week, telling her bout my life and asking a few questions about hers... She never replies. I separated from my ex in relatively good terms. I honestly dot get it. I feel that the punishment does not fit the crime.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2009
Sat, 05-25-2013 - 12:16am

Her behavior has little or nothing to do with the way you raised her.  She's a grown woman, and she has her own values and beliefs.  For one thing, you have no idea what her mother has been telling her about you or your marriage.  For another, she might think her mother needs more moral support than you do.  Not saying she's right, but she sees what she sees, and she feels what she feels.  Also, you keep saying her mother is her friend.......and what's wrong with that?  Maybe you need to be more of a friend than a father right now.  One would think that the older a person, the more they would understand a divorce, but I found that my 17 year old took my divorce a lot harder than my 10 year old!!!  They're all different, and in time she'll come around, you just have to be patient.  In the meantime, instead of emailing, why don't you try calling her?  Maybe she would rather talk to you than read an email.  Have you TOLD her you miss her......or are you just playing the concerned and attentive dad?  If nothing else works, then just leave her alone and bide your time.....there's nothing you can do to FORCE her to want to be with you.

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006

((((It was such a treat to raised her to be an independent young adult.))))

There ya' go!  You HAVE raised her well.  Laughing

I don't know Dad.  I guess my experience is that most young adults really only call when they need something.  My mom jokes that me and sister weren't good for much of anything until we were 30.  

My DF is sensitive, as you are, to the intermitment calls that usually only come around birthdays and holidays and when in need of something.   Just recently I told my DF that "we are just very different in this area."  He takes so many things personally that I just don't see as a big deal.  (Oh, we both have adult children)  

For what it is worth, your piercing example does demonstrate the lack of respect your xW had for you at the time.  I can see how things fell apart.  

Lastly, rights and expectations are killers.  They just are.  All you can do is continue to offer the olive branch.  Be the parent, but don't expect anything in return.  Your DD will eventually ease up.  My DF went a year without talking to his DD and things are pretty good with them now.  

There others on the boards with similar issue with young adult children.  You are not alone.  Enjoy the time with your 12 year old!!!

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