Question: Dear Luise: My daughter is 26 years old. I made mistakes with her as she was growing up, mostly in choosing to remarry when she was 15 (I was a single mom after her father and I divorced for 11 years of her childhood). She hated her step mom and never wanted to see her Dad when she was growing up but I made her – every other week like clockwork. They spent 20 years degrading me to her. My ex husband (her step father) was manipulative and spent the last years of her adolescence telling her I was crazy – he left when she turned 21 and moved out. When he left, he bankrupted us, lost my home, and then stalked me. She knows all this and still thinks he’s the cat’s meow. She has had problems since she was 17 with drugs and alcohol. She is currently going through the legal rammifications of getting a DUI. She is combative and angry and has decided that she can get money and help from me, but otherwise, I am not to have anything to do with her. Then she’ll change direction and call me every few hours, be nice and give me cards and show affection. My friends and our family members tell me to let her go; stop contacting her or trying to be reasonable – she’s very abusive – profanity, name calling, screaming, the works. I’ve enabled her, I know, by paying for her attorney, helping her move (5 times in one year; 2x in the last 2 years) and always been there for her. All I ask is that she treat me with the same respect she treats my ex husband and her father and step-mother but she refuses – claiming that she can’t because I’m juvenile. Should I follow my friends and family members’ advice? How do you let go? L.
Answer: Dear L: You are coming from your heart, I know. She is your daughter and you will always love her. The decision regarding whether to continue to be used and abused is yours. She isn’t going to respect you; that’s been proven, historically, over and over again. Obviously she doesn’t find your money and your help when she moves to be “juvenile”…but no one can tell you to step back until you’re ready to.
I think I would seek an advocate if I were in your shoes…someone, probably a counselor, to support you and help you rekindle the self-love and self-respect needed to move on. Please also consider coming over to the Web-forum I have created for women with issues with adult children: www.WiseWomenUnite.com . You were a whole person before you became her mother. You can be whole again. You deserve so much better than what you’re getting. Blessings, Luise