How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Dr. L Your Own Question

Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1165
Experience:  Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.
Type Your Relationship Question Here...
Dr. L is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I am struggling with my daughters recent departure. She was

Resolved Question:

I am struggling with my daughter's recent departure. She was back for the summer after her freshman year at college. She found a job right away and was working 5 days a week waitressing. but she doesn't have friends in this area where I now live. She became very negative and mopey, almost unbearable. She was rude to everyone, snapped a lot or just ignored us. Well this AM she informed me she had quit her job and was going to her dad's in Iowa (we are in CA and that is where she goes to college although she graduated HS from Iowa). She left this afternoon for a flight in the AM. I am devastated. I tried to talk with her about her unhappiness but she refused. She refused to try counseling or outside help. I feel like my high school boyfriend broke up with me. I am so sad and keep crying. she lived with her father after our divorced 13 years ago (I made the mistake of marrying a lawyer) and we lived in a small town in Iowa where I couldn't find work. So I had to move to support myself. I have always wanted her with me (and her brother who is younger). And when she wanted to come here after h.s. graduation last year and go to college in CA, I was thrilled. So needless to say, I am devastated by this and not sure how to best cope.
Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. L replied 12 months ago.

Dr. L :

Hello,

Dr. L :

I would like to help you with your question.

Dr. L :

I am sorry that your daughter left abruptly and that you feeling distraught and upset.

Customer:

me too thank you

Dr. L :

I can only imagine how painful this is.

Customer:

it is hard for me. it has always been hard being apart

Dr. L :

Her sudden departure did not give you the opportunity to have a good leave-taking...one in which you could have an adult conversation about her reasons for leaving, her mental state, her plans, and so forth.

Customer:

right

Dr. L :

Instead...you are left with all this sadness and grief and, likely, some sense that you let her done.

Dr. L :

*down.

Customer:

yes I feel that way

Dr. L :

There is also some betrayal on her part because you did not know that she had made plans to see her dad...is that right?

Customer:

she did it suddenly yesterday

Dr. L :

That gave you NO opportunity to prepare for her leaving!

Customer:

none. I am devastated

Dr. L :

Had she have told you what she was planning...at least you could have helped her make the move and she would have felt involved and a part of what was going on. Instead...it is as you said...like a boyfriend jilting you.

Dr. L :

Can you tell me what you are saying to yourself? What are the words you are saying in your head?

Dr. L :

Are you saying, "I'm a bad mother?"

Dr. L :

Or..."I don't know how to make my kids happy?"

Dr. L :

Or..."I'm a failure"

Dr. L :

I see that you are offline right now. When you come online I will be notified.

Dr. L :

Until then... I am sorry that this has happened. It's important for you to know that you did NOT make this happen...your daughter made a choice and did not include you in that decision making process. Had she done that, the two of you might have been able to come up with a solution to her unhappiness that you would have felt much better about. Leaving in such an abrupt manner was a poor decision and one that she might someday regret.

Customer:

I phoned her and told her she can still come back anytime. we love and support her no matter what

Customer:

I am doubting myself. what did I do? how could I have been a better mother so she wasnt so unhappy with herself

Dr. L :

I'm glad that you have told her that the door is always open. That will give her the security of knowing that you are not angry or upset.

Dr. L :

I can understand why you are doubting yourself...that's a very natural reaction.

Customer:

yes i want her to know that even if it is hard for me to have her leave

Dr. L :

You didn't do anything. She made a choice. Her happiness is something she controls...you can contribute to it...but you can't control it.

Customer:

i am working to not internalize this and take responsibility for her emotions. because i believe she needs to figure this out herself

Customer:

yes I believe that - we are responsible for our own happiness

Dr. L :

We all want our children to be happy...seeing them upset or in pain is heart breaking.

Customer:

so true

Customer:

thank you for your feedback

Dr. L :

You are welcome...

Dr. L :

Your daughter is learning how to be an adult...

Dr. L :

And...that process involves making good decisions, okay decisions, and sometimes poor decisions.

Customer:

ok

Dr. L :

Hard as it might seem....she needs to experience all of those things.

Dr. L :

That's how she will learn.

Customer:

ok, that is hard for me but you are right. she needs to experience it and make the mistakes herself

Dr. L :

So even though you want to protect her right now and make sure that she is happy, secure, and so forth...the reality is that sometimes we learn more when we make poor decisions.

Dr. L :

I think that her leaving so abruptly is going to be a huge learning experience for her. She basically ran away from her unhappiness. She MAY think that she will find happiness with Dad...but the reality is that she is just pushing her unhappiness to the back burner...that's not going to solve it...that will only delay it.

Dr. L :

As parents, our role is PREPARE our children for life...not PROTECT them from life.

Dr. L :

Does that make sense to you?

Customer:

sorry phone call.

Customer:

yes perfect sense. thanks much for your reaffirmations!!

Dr. L :

You are very welcome!

Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1165
Experience: Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.
Dr. L and 3 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

I reached out to my daughter with a proposal. She really wants a car at school this year (sophmore). I sent her an email (she said she didnt want to text or call) offering to pay for her flight back to CA to my home to pick up a car I just bought and take her belongings to school. If she doesnt do that, she has boxes here that she will need to ship and it will be quite expensive not to mention she wont have a car. I asked her to let me know by tomorrow so I can purchase the ticket in the 2 week discount period.


I talked to her dad who had mentioned the email and my offer to her to get a gauge on what she is thinking. He said he was surprised. She isnt too keen on the idea.


I am at a loss as to what I have done to upset her so much that she doesnt want to come back with me for a week before school and pick up a car to keep at school and to drive her belongings.


I am hurt that she wont talk to me and doesnt want to come here. Not sure how to cope. I am depressed and it affects the rest of my life. Suggestions?

Expert:  Dr. L replied 11 months ago.
Hello,
I am sorry that your daughter is being so difficult...I can understand how hurt and upset you would be by her behavior and attitude. And yes...this is the kind of loss that can contribute to depression.

You made her a fair proposal - actually, you made a very, very generous offer - flight home and car.

The reality is that you likely did nothing to upset her. While we want to believe that young adults can act in mature ways and make reasonably good decisions, the reality is that they are often very selfish, immature,and have little understanding of the consequences of their behavior.

Your daughter made an impulsive decision by leaving your home in the first place. She got desperate about the lack of social life - and whatever else was bothering her - and she jumped on a plane. That's immature behavior any way you want to look at it. The very least she could have done was to have had a respectful discussion with you about how she was feeling and what options there were for her to feel better.

Of course as a parent we tend to blame ourselves when things with our children go awry. But I want you to hear me loud and clear that this is not about something you did or said. This is about her....and the choices she has made.

As I mentioned earlier...the very best you can do here is to let life be the teacher. You made a proposal. You set down a clear deadline. If SHE chooses not to accept your generous offer...then that's HER decision. She will have to live with the consequences. Which in this case seem to be that she will not have a car,that she will have to figure out how to get her things to school, and that she has caused you untold pain and agony.

The how to cope piece for you is to stop blaming yourself and to believe - truly believe - that you have been the very best parent you could be given what you knew about parenting and with the skills and abilities you brought to the table. She is now a young adult and it is up to her to make her way in the world. Your job was to prepare her for life...not to protect her from life.

Absolutely you want to continue to be a supportive and loving parent. That support and love means that you allow her to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes. It is time she grows up and accepts responsibility for the decisions she makes.

To cope with your depressive feelings, I encourage you to get some exercise (even walking is good), get support from friends and family you trust, and partake of enjoyable hobbies/activities.

Right now you are grieving the loss of your daughter from your life and that is only normal. The vision you had for this summer - having her home and with you - was ripped away when she got on that airplane. You had no opportunity to say good bye, to wish her well, or to even help her pack and get ready. Based on what her dad is saying, she may not even come back home to get a car and pack up for school. How sad.

If the only way she will allow you to communicate is by email (by the way you are being very respectful by not demanding that she talk to you on the phone or by text), then perhaps you can write that good bye that you never had an opportunity to verbalize. Getting your thoughts and feelings on "paper" will likely be very freeing and healthy for you.

Again, I am very sorry that your daughter has chosen to treat you in this way. But again...this is about her...not about you. You really have little information about what she is thinking and feeling and, unfortunately, she made no real attempt to clue you in to what was really happening this summer.

I await your reply.


Customer: replied 11 months ago.

thank you! Your guidance is very helpful to me.

Expert:  Dr. L replied 11 months ago.
You are very, very welcome.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Take care!
Customer: replied 11 months ago.

One more thing. It doesn't appear she is going to accept my offer and wont answer my calls. I thought I would weigh all the boxes and let her know the price to ship. My next thought is what to do with her cellphone service that I pay for and what about tuition (I pay 1/2)? I feel that she should be able to communicate if she wants this additional help. Perhaps I say that in my email on the cost of shipping? When I have broached that subject recently via text (before she said not to text or call), she just dismisses it and says she doesn't care anymore she just wont go to school. Very difficult to know how to approach it to get a different reaction.

Expert:  Dr. L replied 11 months ago.
At this point, I would not communicate with her further. I would not weigh the boxes to tell her the shipping costs. Let her figure these things out.

It's your choice if you want to continue to pay her cellphone and her tuition. But don't expect any gratitude from her for these things as she is not capable of those feelings right now. If you made a commitment in the past to the tuition...then I would encourage you to keep paying it as you do not want to send a message that essentially says I will punish you for treating me badly....paying the tuition shows that YOU keep your commitments. Same with the cellphone. If the arrangement you have committed to is paying her cellphone or college until she finishes her education...then by all means keep that commitment.

Right now she needs to know that you love her unconditionally. And...that fact is that you truly do. Remember there is a difference between loving your child and loving their behavior. You love her...but you are absolutely not loving her behavior. Her behavior can...and will change.
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1165
Experience: Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.
Dr. L and 3 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
< Last | Next >
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
  • This expert is wonderful. They truly know what they are talking about, and they actually care about you. They really helped put my nerves at ease. Thank you so much!!!! Alex Los Angeles, CA
  • Thank you for all your help. It is nice to know that this service is here for people like myself, who need answers fast and are not sure who to consult. GP Hesperia, CA
  • I couldn't be more satisfied! This is the site I will always come to when I need a second opinion. Justin Kernersville, NC
  • Just let me say that this encounter has been entirely professional and most helpful. I liked that I could ask additional questions and get answered in a very short turn around. Esther Woodstock, NY
  • Thank you so much for taking your time and knowledge to support my concerns. Not only did you answer my questions, you even took it a step further with replying with more pertinent information I needed to know. Robin Elkton, Maryland
  • He answered my question promptly and gave me accurate, detailed information. If all of your experts are half as good, you have a great thing going here. Diane Dallas, TX
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Dear Debra

    Advice Columnist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1719
    I have been an Advice columnist for 14 years. My column is published weekly in local newpapers.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/DE/deedeeham/2011-1-24_51523_408.64x64.JPG Dear Debra's Avatar

    Dear Debra

    Advice Columnist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1719
    I have been an Advice columnist for 14 years. My column is published weekly in local newpapers.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/formybunch/2010-12-06_191055_img_0975.jpg Kate McCoy's Avatar

    Kate McCoy

    Counselor

    Satisfied Customers:

    1235
    Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RE/resolutions66/2011-1-17_05728_IMG8202smilingeditedforJustAnswer.64x64.jpg Elliott, LPCC, NCC's Avatar

    Elliott, LPCC, NCC

    Psychotherapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1215
    35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/CO/CoachJenK/2012-3-9_31019_Jen.64x64.jpg Coach Jen K.'s Avatar

    Coach Jen K.

    LMSW, CPC

    Satisfied Customers:

    726
    Providing the utmost care and support.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/IN/intrapsyc.com/2012-2-20_161928_RGMTPicturex5002012.64x64.png Rafael M.T.Therapist's Avatar

    Rafael M.T.Therapist

    Psychotherapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    549
    MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/HU/hungryjack20/IMG_1281_edit_2.64x64.jpg Dr. L's Avatar

    Dr. L

    Psychologist

    Satisfied Customers:

    349
    Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/SU/suzmsw/2011-9-2_184634_Thisone.64x64.JPG Suzanne's Avatar

    Suzanne

    Therapist, LCSW

    Satisfied Customers:

    338
    Experienced in treating trauma, relationship issues, co-dependency