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Sarah
Sarah, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 143
Experience:  Chart'd Psych, 12 yrs exp. English prisons, Clinical Hypnotherapist, EMDR Therapist, BPS, HPC reg'd.
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Sarah, Ive returned for a little more advice. Things with

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Sarah, I've returned for a little more advice. Things with our daughter got slightly better after I apologized for reacting so harshly to her recent behaviors...I did it because we were going out of town to watch her compete in a big horse show, and I wanted things to be okay for her. The apology didn't feel very liberating; for some reason, I still felt like crap afterward. Anyway, now she is converting to Catholicism (we're Protestants). At first, I was open to her need to explore this. But her boyfriend is Catholic, and I had to attend a church service surrounded by his family all gushing over what I perceive as their conquest. Made me sick inside. I'm eaten up with jealousy. She spends fewer and fewer time with us when she visits. Her dad and I tried to have a sit-down talk with her to explain all of our concerns, but she doesn't really listen...she just waits for her turn to talk, interrupts, or becomes defensive. The guy she's dating (they're not engaged) is a decent person, but I'm annoyed that he and his family don't consider us at all. They all think she's 21 and that's the botXXXXX XXXXXne. Believe me, Sarah, when I tell you that we have loved and cherished our daughter (and her brother as well) and have been her cheerleaders all these years. She's pulling away, and it hurts so bad. Where did I go wrong? Now her boyfriend isn't speaking to me (probably because I acted so angry at the church service...Lord, forgive me), and it's all a big mess.  (You might have to reread my posts in early October for background.  Thanks.)
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Sarah replied 3 years ago.
Hi there,

I am glad you felt you could return for further advice. I do hope what I say is useful for you. I am sorry if some of my suggestions come over as harsh - they are not meant to be, it is difficult to find the right words when typing, rather than sitting in front of you. I offer these oughts for you to consider and accept or dismiss as you see fit. I wouldnt be so leading in a face-to-face session, but with the written word it is more directive.

A simple response would be that your daughter is grwoing up and it is natural for here to oull away and make a new lie for herself. How does that make you feel? What did you expect instead? What we you hoping or dreaming of for your daughter that isnt happening? What does this mean for you personally? I would ask you, if you can, to stand back from all of the happenings and the emotions that are being created at the current time and think a few things through for yourself. It seems to me that there are some discrepancies between what you want for yourself, what you wish for your daughter and how you are caught up in all of this that is happening around you. There is potentially a pattern of the family coming together, it doesn't go as planned, there are emotional outbursts and bad feelings. Then the cycle is re-started with more fuel. let's have a look at what you have written - you were able to apologize to your daughter for what happened before, but only because you were going to a show and wanted it to be a nice day. You didn't feel better inside and wonder why. Has anyone ever apologized to you when you have thought - 'they're only doing it for this, not because they are genuinely sorry'? I wonder if your daughter knew that you had apologized in order to help the day go well? I would suggest that your continued bad feelings were perhaps because you had not apologized because you were sorry (perhaps you felt it wasn't right for you to be apologizing) and underneath it all, you knew that - you were able to write about why you had apologized. Had it been a small issue and it helped the day, that would have been great - but I wonder if the issue between your daughter and yourself is too big for it to have worked this time? I would also like you to consider what you truly would like to see for your daughter - not for you, for your daughter - make a list, what would it contain? I had a conversation with a lady the other night about how she didn't want her children to stay local when they're older and to have a family immediately - she would like them to feel that they can spread their wings and move around the country or the world, doing what makes them happy. Could you truly wish this for your daughter, or are your needs blocking this path? It's really important to be honest, because this can truly affect your happiness and your need for support from your husband or other sources. If you feel that you would like her to be close to you, perhaps in older age, would prefer for her to be in your religion, or whatever your hopes may be, then this can be sensed by the child and they can feel that they are never getting things right for you. I believe this pressure can drive the child away because its more comfortable to be different than to become something that you are not. These are YOUR needs, not hers and she does not have a duty to fulfill them, no matter how ouch that hurts. I sense that what your daughter needs is unconditional love - I will love you whatever you choose, whatever you feel, whatever you need, wherever you go, I am here at the sidelines to catch you if you fall, to praise you when lose, but only when you need me, as your life is your own to lead as you like. What I sense is happening is that the family gatherings don't meet with your expectations and you perhaps feel let down, unsatisfied, and this is being demonstrate through emotional outbursts? Imagine being part of the hosting family, inviting your daughters boyfriend's family over and seeing the mother have emotional outbursts at the party - what would your thoughts be, what would your feelings be, how might you respond if you were the daughter? I would suggest that your best and most difficult challenge is to spend time thinking this through, rather than having an active role. Do you have much time in your life when you are able to relax within your own thoughts, perhaps with relaxing music and time? This can help us to stay calm and piece together what is happening around us without rushing in, responding emotionally and regretting our actions afterwards. I realize I am giving you lots to do, that does not signify blame for this - a family is an interaction of attachment styles, needs, emotions and thoughts - including a separate family though relationships is even more challenging as they can be completely different to our own family unit - with different styles of attachment, needs, emotions and thoughts - your daughter will need to find a way of managing this for her own happiness. We can only be responsible for our own thoughts, feelings and behaviours and that is why I ask you to take a step back and explore your role in this situation. Of course it would help if everyone else did this too, but you cannot do this for them, only for yourself. Even if they don't change, you can alter your perceptions and behaviours to make it more comfortable for yourself, gaining support from your husband for whatever you need. I do wonder to what extent you may feel that you have missed your daughters childhood years, because of the extra needs for your son, (nobody's fault) and whether now you feel the need to keep her close to revisit what you didn't have? I may be wrong - you will know whether this fits or whether to dismiss it. I look forward to your reply, I do hope this is helpful, best wishes, Sarah

Edited by Sarah on 11/7/2010 at 10:16 AM EST
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for responding at 5 a.m.! I know you're right...I'm embarrassed that I have reacted like this; the humiliation is making it worse. The handicapped child has been extremely stressful through the years. My husband and I just "keep the balls in the air". We get along, no fighting, but have never had an intimate relationship of talking and sharing personal feelings. I think that's why I feel so isolated and why I have have these inner emotional explosions. He doesn't want any confrontations or conflict, so when he takes a stand with our daughter, it's half-baked because he doesn't want to be the bad guy (and I understand...just the way he is.) But he doesn't take up for me. He thinks I hold grudges and need to get over it. He's right. Neither of us wants conflict because our situation already sucks without adding more. Here's an important point: I told my daughter when I apologized that my parenting style is not perfect. Since children don't come with instructions when they're born, I can only parent the way I was parented and hope to do better. My parents were divorced when I was 13 and my dad left forever. My mom was so strong through it all, but also very stressed and bitter. So I think I have clung to my dreams of providing a much better home life for our daughter when she was growing up. I think we did that, yet I feel so empty because she doesn't appreciate it...just feels entitled. I like her boyfriend and think a lot of his family...but she looks at their family as "normal"...even said that to me. I don't expect her to hang around here like some clingy needy young adult. I just think she and her boyfriend could spend time here, too. But she said that there's nothing to do...all we do is sit in the livingroom with brother on the mat playing with him and watching tv. It's true. We take him for walks, but that's about it. I don't know what she expects us to do...it's not a choice. We have to consider little brother as well. We packed him up, equipment and all, to the horse show...had to sit in handicapped section or course, and boyfriend's family wouldn't sit with us...interesting. It's time we devoted more energy to little brother anyway...since we've spent the past 21 years trying to make her life the best it can be under the circumstances. That was our whole goal here. Yes, I expected our daughter to spread her wings, become an independent young woman, and along the way to love and appreciate her parents. By the way, two years in a row now I have not received a birthday card or even acknowledgement from her...neither has dad. How does that happen?
Expert:  Sarah replied 3 years ago.

Hi,

 

I'm glad you can respond so positively - maybe she can not send you a card for two years because despite the way she treats you, you continue to be so good to her and she simply doesn't appreciate what a fabulously supportive mom she has? Maybe its time she felt the consequences of what she does to you. I think we talked about that before. Do you know what, I think you're right, I think it's time for you and your son to enjoy time together whilst your daughter is doing her own thing - you have accepted between you and your husband that life has been hard and you have done all that you can - maybe now is the time to be a bit more selfish and inward thinking - to yourself and your husband. Start with the little things in life, (if you don't already) buy him a magazine, run him a bath, leave him messages, let him know you love him, buy him a gab of his favourite licorice (or whatever). You may be surprised, he may do the same for you too. It sounds as if knows you need to get over your grudges - next time he says that, ask him for some support - say yes, I know i need to get over it, but I cant do it by myself - please would you listen to me - tell him that you don't need solutions (sometimes men find it difficult to listen because they think we want solutions to be generated - sorry for sweeping generalisation of male species) - but that you would just like to sound off some of the stuff on your chest and let it go. You have done really well to recognise how your own family functioned (some people don't have that insight) and you know you have done your best and more. If that was your dream for your daughter and now your daughter is starting her own life (so to speak) then you need another dream to fill the gap - don't wait for her to be grateful, that may not come for many years yet - fill your time with other things over and above your son if you can, however small. Let your daughter see you living your own life and she may begin to feel less central to it - this will release the pressure from her and maybe enable her to go of some of the emotional stuff too - the sooner she can do that, the sooner she may see what she has actually had and is in danger of losing. "forget" to call her, let her do the running - when she says you haven't called her - tell her you've been having such a good time. These are just thoughts for you to consider - ways of allowing yourself to feel good without the input from your daughter or else where. Remember those dreams you had before children, is there any way you can make them a reality for just a day or so? Book yourself a ticket at the theatre, on your own if you have to - you can enjoy it when the lights go down without anyone else - your husband can be with your son - or maybe a sitter for just a few hours? Your daughter will probably love your son dearly, but she needs a break to be able to see it. If her boyfriend is worth his salt, he will encourage her to talk to him and then encourage her to see you and your family in a better light. This might take a while. I don't know if my ramblings are useful - I certainly hope so. If you can see a hypnotherapist for a session, get them to record a disk for you to listen to at home - it will help you to fill the gap, re-form the dream, stay positive, let go of the emotion. I hear that you don't want to become stressed and bitter like your mom, and asking for help and letting the emotions go are one way of making sure this doesn't happen. It's in your hubby's best interests to listen to you - I know it feels odd if you're not used to it - sit in the dark and tell him if it's more comfortable for you both. Don't let him think you are just moaning, you need a sounding board so that you can get it all off your chest. He has a role to play in that. No man is an island, it's just not possible without negative consequences. give him time to talk too, it's a two way street, you may learn things you didn't know about him - just doing this can bring you closer together. With all my best wishes, Sarah Did I mention EFT before? When you feel the humiliation, tap your hand with your other hand on the edge of your palm, between your wrist and the base of your little finger and say to yourself, 'even though I feel humiliated, I know what I did and I won't do it again'. Repeat a few times on each hand. 'even though I feel humiliated, I can let it go'. 'Even though I did that thing, I am a good person and people love me'. 'even though I made a mistake, I am a lovely person'. Do this with all unwanted emotions, saying the negative and replacing it with a positive. every time you awaken in the morning, say 'I am getting better and better with each day that goes by' and each time you go to bed, say (out loud or to yourself) 'As each night goes by, I am becoming more and more comfortable, more at ease with myself and the situation'. Adapt this to however you want it to be. You are programming your subconscious mind and you may be surprised how soon you begin to feel more and more positive as the days and nights go by. Feel free to contact me anytime. Sarah PS it was 10am in England, but thanks for the thought!!

Sarah, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 143
Experience: Chart'd Psych, 12 yrs exp. English prisons, Clinical Hypnotherapist, EMDR Therapist, BPS, HPC reg'd.
Sarah and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you, Sarah. I appreciate the "booster shot." I'm taking your advice...reprogramming myself and spending more quality time with little brother. With my husband's blessing, I bought an elliptical trainer today! I'm hoping that working out everyday will help me manage my stress (and cholesterol) better. We've already put it together. I'm going to be more fervent reading the Bible as well. Maybe I'll stick with it, maybe I won't...but it's a start. You have helped me calm down and think of this as a temporary problem with my daughter. What I think you are saying is that if I can truly detach, she may then begin to come around. Right now, the more I push and intervene, the more she pulls away. I'll give her that independence...at least try. Wish me luck! Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX so much. I appreciate it more than you know.
Expert:  Sarah replied 3 years ago.
That's exactly what I am trying to say, I am so glad you understood me. Exercise is a great idea, along with reading the Bible too. But try not to be too hard on yourself if you read things that make you feel less than good - the person who made no mistakes never made anything. mistakes are only bad if we refuse to look at them and move on in a better way. Be really kind to yourself over the next 7 days, taking it easy, telling yourself what you do well and doing what you truly deserve. Thanks for comments, much appreciated. Sarah

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