Question: Dear Luise: I have three adult children 35, 34 and 31. When my eldest daughter had her daughter (my first grandchild) three years ago her mother in law was the first to see the baby as well as the scan pictures. My daughter disowned me as she said I was jealous. I am constantly arguing with my kids because the way they speak and intimiate me as it’s always my fault. I had a big argument with my son and said i never wanted to see him again as he really hurt me. I feel I cannot go on like this with them as my husband gets constant headaches when we argue. Should i just disown them I feel I cannot go on and feel at the end of my teather. I had them all around for dinner last week and the answer my daughter gave was that none of us are close to you and by having dinner does not change anything! I fear they are just carrying on because they feel its their duty if thats what you call it = everything is always my fault i realy dont know what to do next regards K.
Answer: Dear K.: It’s sometimes hard to figure out how to maintain a healthy connection after adult children move on into establishing their own homes and families. They often remember their childhoods differently than we do and tend to hold us responsible for acts and attitudes we may not even recall.
On the other hand, they are now free to make up their own rules just like we did when we started a family unit. Who sees and gets to hold a new baby first is their business, not ours. We no longer have any say in it. For most of us, it is pretty hard to get that we don’t have a voice and that if we insist on still thinking we do, we are going to be voted down. Often to assert their newfound authority our adult children blame us for their own imperfections. Moms especially are very handy scapegoats.
The only answer that I know of is to get that it’s their right and their choice. We don’t need to agree but we need to complyadapt. We are no longer in charge and need to learn to keep our thoughts to ourselves. Not an easy task for most of us.
Those of us who are strong-minded, and I am one, can find it hard to let go and back off. When we learn to do that, it then becomes a waiting game. We may get invited back into their lives and we may not. It’s usually not about “disowning”; it’s about the space for everyone to move around without bumping into each other, psychologically speaking, so that new dynamics and distancing can evolve and healing can take place.
You might benefit from joining my Web-forum, established for the sole purpose of helping women deal with issues around adult children and extended families. Many have found it extremely helpful to dialogue with others to better understand what is happening and how to get through it. We are at: www.WiseWomenUnite.com . Blessings, Luise