What to do?

Avatar for shirley_v
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2000
What to do?
13
Fri, 04-04-2014 - 7:41pm

This is not my problem but rather a problem with a friend of mine who has an only daughter who is I think now 27 years old.  This daughter is continuing a university education in drama - getting a university degree that is, after already having a college degree in drama but she wanted a university degree, hence her somewhat advanced age attending university in a city north of ours.  The problem consists of this young woman (we'll call her Angela) having had her first serious relationship with a young man in the same study  at the same university (though he is a year ahead of her...he is graduating, she has one more year).  After a year of their going out, he recently (as of February of this year) broke off their relationship.  Angela is devastated - never saw this coming and can't come to grips with it.  He seems now to have gone on to reunite with an old girlfriend from this same university. 

My friend, (we'll call her Brenda), has been since inundated with phone calls from her daughter (they don't live in the same city) - who cannot seem to get beyond feeling crushed by this breakup.  This upsets Brenda who has tried to offer advice but to no avail, or it hasn't been accepted by said daughter.  Mostly, it seems that now all Brenda can do is listen but is herself continually upset by her daughter's unhappy state.  Angela has seen a university psych counsellor maybe twice but doesn't seemt to think or feel this has been helpful to her.  Often Angela will drink to drown her sorrows, it seems and then phones her mother to cry over the phone to her!  So this has been two months of this behaviour.  Whether this is not unusual or is extreme....well?

I've not had a lot of experience with my own children and their relationship breakups.  Not to say none of them have not had breakups but they seem to have dealt with it in their own way and only have I on occasion had to listen to one of them be upset but it didn't last long.  I suspect that Angela is going through some deep seated issues of her own brought on by this relationship breakup. She doesn't seem to be particularly agreeable to continuing counselling, unless perhaps she'd prefer another counsellor than the one she saw, but it may not be a case of personality - maybe just a resistance to seeking help.  

So what do you tell a daughter who is going through the throes of rejection and breakup for two months or so, after you feel you've exhausted all you could think of what to say and which has not always gone over big with her daughter?  Just listen, or continue to urge her daughter to get professional help?  Has anyone been through something similar with one of their childfren who went through a breakup and was it anything like this? How can my friend get beyond feeling helpless and upset herself, time after time?

Just wondering if this is a problem anyone has encountered before and how it may have been resolved.

Shirley

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Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
In reply to: sabrtooth
Tue, 05-13-2014 - 9:11am

Ed & I were talking about this the other day, when he remarked that a co-worker of his's parents barely speak to him any more.  They had not been thrilled with his choice of wife, as she was 15 years older than he, and came with a hotel full of baggage, but they tried to make the best of it.  However, he continually confided her misdeeds whenever they hit a rough spot, and when they finally seperated, the parents were thrilled.  When he decided to go back, that was the final straw.  Since WE know all this, you can see he has a tendancy to overshare.

We are very close with our kids, and they with each other, and in the past, they have been somewhat hurt when Ed has told them he "doesn't want to hear it" when they come over crying.  During this conversation, we talked about how hard it is to stay neutral about our kids' issues, whether it's their love life, their work life, their friends, etc, especially when they tell you the gory details, ask for advice, then do what they want anyway.

It's even harder if they share every tiff with their spouses.  For them, it's "dump & run".   It's just a bump in the road, they want to get it off their chest, and then they are back together.  But the people they "dumped" on, whether it's parents, siblings, friends or co-workers, are left with an opinion about the spouse that is not buffered by love.  So Ed's solution with the kids is, "I don't wanna know".   I, on the other hand, want them to be able to vent, but I don't want to be stuck with an opinion, nor do I want to lie by ommission to Ed.  I've talked with them about the lasting impression this kind of stuff leaves, so if they think they are going to stay with the guy, go see a counselor.  For us, that's not such a stretch, since we saw counselors regularly thru the teen years, and are comfortable with them.

Avatar for shirley_v
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2000
In reply to: shirley_v
Tue, 05-13-2014 - 3:31pm

Sabr, you make a good point about not wanting to be involved in knowing the details, forming an opinion about whom your children are having difficulties with.  Wanting to stay neutral, in other words may be hard to do.  I suppose Ed is wise to not encourage this sort of 'dumping' as you call it.  Ideally, couples, spouses should try to work out their problems without having to get others involved or maybe go seek counselling if it proves to be too difficult - a good experienced counsellor can remain impartial and see maybe both sides of the issues or whatever.  It's not like I've had my kids come to me with upset and complaints about their S.O. (they haven't had too many S.O. for that matter!).  I think I would be inclined to want to listen but I would hope to not take sides.  And if it was beyond my ability I'd refer them to get professional help but like I said, I've not had to get involved in this sort of thing (so far?). 

Shirley

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
In reply to: elc11
Tue, 05-13-2014 - 10:01pm

Sabr, you're so right about the "dump and run". Dd used to do that about the bf she had at 19-20yo. I really tried to like him but just couldn't, for a number of reasons. Some of those reasons also caused friction in their relationship so when she would call me to vent, it was really hard to not say "well, duh". (Also really hard to not criticize him but in dd's case that probably would've caused a "Romeo and Juliet" response.) But every complaint I heard was just another nail in the coffin of my dislike of the guy....it would have been horrible if she had actually married him. After that bf she stopped sharing as much. I did hear some stuff about the guy she broke up with 3 years ago, but we liked him a lot and I think she was trying to justify her actions.

Ds hasn't had a lot of relationship issues that I know of, he vented to me a couple of times several years ago but that's it. I'm really glad that both kids have decided to share elsewhere (if they share at all) because it does put me in a tough spot to hear bad things about a person that I'm supposed to welcome with open arms.

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