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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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Our 21 year old daughter did something in college that hurt

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Our 21 year old daughter did something in college that hurt us badly. It wasn't the act itself so much, but the selfishness of it--she knew we disapproved of the behavior and had talked to her about it practically from the womb. She has a disabled sibling. We have made so many sacrifices to make her life as normal as possible and to support her in every endeavor. We've been indentured servants. Now we're so angry, and everything's changed. By the way, this is the third time she's rebelled against her upbringing. Yet she thinks we should move on and get back to the way things were.
Hello. Welcome to JustAnswer. I am sorry to hear your daughter's situation. It sounds your daughter has not been able to change her behavior pattern, although I am not certain of the severity of her behavior problems. You may need to tell her assertively and directly how much her action caused pain and sadness in you parents and request her to change her behavior in a clear, concrete and/or appropriate manner. If you think that she may need counseling and/or family may need a counseling for family, you may advise her to do so. Your daughter does not meet parents' expectations in certain things, you may discuss and negotiate the issue in a family meeting or family therapy sessions. In this situation, assertive communication, family discussion, and/or professional help may be needed for her not to repeat her negative behavior. Please let me know if I have overlooked any, you like to discuss this further, or you have more questions. Dr. Olsen

Edited by Dr. Olsen on 9/30/2010 at 9:05 PM EST
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Just one more question, please, if you don't mind. She has not done anything illegal, fortunately; in fact, I'm sure other people would think it's nothing. We have values that we've tried to instill, and she ignores them but wants us to continue be there for her (and we want to as well). We have already spoken to her firmly. She just doesn't understand why we're hurt. She says she's 21 and didn't mean to cause us pain. Where did we fail in teaching family loyalty?
Her peers may be a big influence on her due to her age. She also is 21 and may be emotionally younger than her age if she does not feel your pain even though you verbally communicated your feelings with her directly, assertively and honestly. I am sure that she does not want to disappoint or hurt her parents. But if she still can not comply with certain expectations or rules, it could be emotional immaturity and/or peer pressure. But if you have taught family values to her for many years, I am positive that she will get back to the values and self-correct her behavior, that is part of her growth in young adulthood. Please let me know if you have more questions. I am happy to assist. Dr. Olsen

Edited by Dr. Olsen on 9/30/2010 at 9:44 PM EST
Dr. Olsen, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2336
Experience: PsyD Psychologist
Dr. Olsen and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for your help and expertise.
Hi there,

Don't forget also that learning from childhood is also about testing boundaries and seeing how far parents can be pushed. At 21, your daughter is a young adult with responsibilities of her own, but she is only just starting out as an adult and she is now a young fish in a huge pond, rather than an older fish in a smaller pond. She needs your support, but she is also trying to find her way. I am not intending to make excuses for her, but even if she has been kind to her younger disabled brother all of her life, she would be an extraordinary person if she did not feel some resentment or negativity towards him for the differences his circumstances may have made to her and to your family as a whole. If she has been kind to him most of her life, maybe she feels that this hasn't been recognized, that it was expected - and of course it's expected, but it's still nice to be appreciated when she sees a world of girls who didn't have to do the same. Part of being a child is being the same as others, even though adults know this cannot always be the case. If your daughter has rebelled against her upbringing only three times, maybe you should be counting your blessings, as it is a natural stage of growing up and learning? You may have had all of these discussions, but if not, they may be necessary. You may also have feelings of your own regarding your son's disability, as it obviously made life much harder. Have you ever let this all out by talking about it or screaming from the top of a mountain? You might find this very therapeutic. We cannot give,give and give some more, without receiving back, in order to remain balanced. But this is not your daughter's gap to fill, simply because she is your other child. You two, as married adults, need to be replenishing each other and allowing your daughter to make her own mistakes without you taking it personally and taking it out on her. It is hard enough for us all to keep a sense of 'self' in this world as it is, let alone with a child who requires special attention. It would be a shame if the end result of all that extra effort was that your relationship with your daughter was ruined. You say other people would think it was nothing, and that your daughter never intended to upset you. Are you absolutely sure that the intense anger you are feeling isn't really directed at your son's disability and the life you have had to lead? It may seem 'wrong' and 'ungrateful' to feel this, but I'm not suggesting you are blaming your son, simply letting out your personal, long term frustrations regarding the situation. I hope this is helpful, if any of this is ringing true, you could take it to your therapist when you choose one. Feel free to reply if you want to, Best Wishes, Sarah

Edited by Sarah on 10/1/2010 at 9:31 AM EST
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you, Sarah. I wasn't expecting another reply, so I may owe another fee for your advice. Please let me know. Your words were so kind, and you are right about the effect of her disabled brother. He needs 24-hour care and is now a teenager. We've had many conversations about the heartache and the isolation, but the joy as well. To me, that's even more reason why she should respect her parents...knowing how hard it has been for us. If I forgive her and just move on, then she will think she can repeat the behavior and do something else. Her dad is so matter of fact about it, saying that she can't rewind it, and there's nothing we can do about it, so I should forget about it. He says she's old enough to make her own stupid decisions.
Hi there,

I'm glad that you have discussed the heartache alongside the joys, as this is the negativity that destroys the family unit without people knowing why, when they love their family members so much. I can see that you would hope your daughter could behave herself more because she knows you have had a tough time, but you are looking at this through the eyes of a wise adult and your daughter is seeing things through the eyes of a young person who needs to learn through her mistakes, and in her own rights, take the path of a youngster despite her brothers extra needs. I wonder if you have always had to ask more of her, in terms of discipline, so that the family can continue to function well - that would make perfect sense, but would still put extra pressure on your daughter along the way. In some ways, i feel that your husband is right - your daughter has reached an age where she can make her own decisions and I also support your belief that she needs to realise the consequences - that you are hurt. But that's the lesson that she needs to learn - you are hurt by her mistakes. Having said that, she still needs room to make mistakes within the support of her parents. Perhaps you could send her a note or sit her down and explain something along the lines that you love her and support her, but that she has hurt you (and explain exactly why - not the behaviour, but the selfishness of it) and you feel that she needs to know that, but that you realise she is growing up and you will always be there for her? She may not see the error of her ways now, in the fullness of being 21, but she will store the lesson for later on. And if she repeats the mistake, then the lesson becomes stronger, for later on. It is also possible that if she was very good when she was younger, that she is learning stuff now that is a little delayed, because she was good enough not to test you earlier. I think it would be very sad if you spend time apart from your daughter over this. You don't need to use the word 'forgive' to your daughter if you don't want to, but if you can forgive her in your heart, then it won't build up as resentment. I wonder if you have other 'forgiving's inside that need to be resolved, which this situation is triggering? I wish you the very best with this, I hope this gives you some food for thought.

I appreciate that you have accepted one answer and that I stepped in. I felt it was important to offer a different perspective. If you feel my answer has been valuable, then please feel free to accept it.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you so so much. You are so perceptive and must be a very talented therapist. Yes, our daughter has been under extreme pressure all her life to succeed because we, her parents, had high expectations (especially after the sibling's illness). She's headstrong and had a few normal rebellions, but for the most part towed the line. Valedictorian, etc. She's still excelling, but I feel like it's all eroding now, little by little. One mistake, then two, and now the third. It's a runaway train that I can't stop. Or perhaps it's a control factor for me. I want to forgive, but I'm so damn mad. Terrible as it sounds, I want to hurt her back. Your comments really helped me to see it a little more clearly. I will definitely reread and reread your thoughts and continue to evaluate my feelings about the situation. I think I owe you money for this service. How do I "settle up" on this site? I also understand that the rules don't allow for your continued counsel! Sorry! And thanks again. You helped more than you know.
Hi, thanks for your answer, you are very kind. You have done very well to recognise that maybe there is an element of control - your daughter is 21, so of course you feel as if the train is running away. But if you keep the station open at all hours, she will keep running through and stopping by for quality time. If you shut the station, the train will rattle through and perhaps take a different track. Well done for accepting that you want to hurt her back, don't try and squash this feeling down, look at it, think about it, where does it come from? Why do you feel it? What does it mean? We cannot think positively of our children at all times, just as they must think badly of us too, but we must accept this - it does not mean that w e don't love them. We are all different. Then learn from it. Then let it go. Or it will destroy what you have. I'm not sure how you can pay me other than posting another question starting with my name and I will pick it up and you can pay me. That would be great, I wanted you to see another perspective and I appreciate your positive comments about my therapy. If I could trouble you to leave me some feedback, that would be wonderful. With very Best Wishes, 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.
Sarah and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Hi, I have been looking for a question listed by you in case you have tried to pay me. Please put my name first and the other experts will leave it for me. Alternatively, you could let the site organizers know that you would like to make a payment to me [email protected] I am sure they will sort it for you if you tell them my online name - timeonline. Hope this is helpful, Best Wishes, Sarah