Question: Dear Luise: I feel my family is falling apart. I have 3 adult daughters – two of them have children of their own…2 little girls each. The youngest has made bad life choices and is always struggling. She also might have a problem with pain medications that she uses for fibromyalgia, in addition to possible alcohol abuse issues. Her sisters see these issues clearly – they’re less obvious to me. This youngest daughter has had access to my home and has been in our home frequently. Recently, we realized quite a large amount of money is missing from our house. My husband has saved all his change for many years – all that change is gone except for pennies, probably in the neighborhood of $4-5,000. Also, I cannot find some of my expensive jewelry. The only person who has had free access to the house is this youngest daughter, but there is just enough doubt that we can’t be certain she’s the guilty party. There have been others…friends, repairmen, etc…who have also been in the house. My other daughters think I should confront the youngest one about the drugs and alcohol…the theory being that she stole the money and pawned my jewelry to buy drugs. The middle on in particular has come down pretty hard on me about this and says she won’t come around until our family is “fixed.” There are other issues…the youngest girl has lashed out at her oldest sister, calling her horrendous names. Apparently she and the middle daughter didn’t exchange any words, but the youngest has now “unfriended” the middle one on Facebook (the middle one confronted her via email or on Facebook about the names the youngest was calling the oldest one in her Facebook posts. The youngest has recently moved out of state with her 2 children and the father of the youngest one. She was married to the father of the oldest one and he was so irresponsible (although he is a very good dad) that she left him. She doesn’t have the money to file for divorce so they’re still married and now she has this new baby by another man. The husband also moved to the out of state location so he could be near his little girl. Sounds like a soap opera, I know. I feel as if I have a bevy of hormonal teenaged girls on my hands. Intellectually, I think the youngest (by the way, she’s nearly 29) did steal from us, but I have only “feelings” and no hard evidence. She never has any money and I’ve helped her over the years with gas for her car and just keeping her phone and electricity on. I know my relationshihp with her is somewhat dysfunctional…the older girls are both adamant that I am in denial. This is just a mess – I love my family and just want us all to have good relationships with each other. Any advice? M.
Answer: Dear M.: Your family is grown and gone. My feeling is that these are adults and I think they need to lead their own lives without your being so involved. If they squabble among themselves, that is between them. I would bar the one from your home who stole from you…with or without proof. Then you can get on with your own life. It no longer needs to be about them. They are following their own paths and it’s pretty much their business, not yours. That’s hard to get sometimes. Everything you wrote is about them, not you. Can you see that?
It’s time for some distance and some self-love. You may have lost yourself in your mothering and it’s time to rescue and retrieve your self.
I have created a Web-forum for those who have problems with extended families and adult children: www.WiseWomenUnite.com . Please join us. Blessings, Luise