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 Suzanne Your Own Question
Suzanne, Therapist, LCSW
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 919
Experience:  Experienced in treating trauma, relationship issues, co-dependency
Type Your Relationship Question Here...
Suzanne is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

my daughter will be turning 40 yrs. her biological father

Customer Question

my daughter will be turning 40 yrs.
her biological father left her at 3 . Due to his physical and mental distruction towards me I left when she was 2 months old.and my husband adopted her at age 6. My daughter has only known a father figure in my present husband since she was 2. We are still married after 38 years. She has a sister who she hates.

She calls every 4-5 months wants to reunite and then wham, she is so hurtful., "hated her childhood, never wanted to be part of our family, on and on and we never knew she had children until a year ago. NOW she hates us again and her children will not see us again and she doesn't care if they ever know us.

We are both sick over this and her husband has thrown up his hands. She said she was going to convince him about not letting the kids come up anymore.(we babysat them for the pass 11/2 years and boom, no more as of last week.

Anxious as I know she can munipulate anyone . What should I do? I am 67 and W. is 69
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Suzanne replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for writing to Just Answer.

It seems very likely that your daughter has some mental health issues, and until she decides to get some help, she is not going to change.

The only change that is under your control is how you react to her. You have two choices at this point--as you have already done everything else: read books, had therapy and talked to your priest--

1. Decide that having a relationship with her is more important than your hurt feelings, and make a decision to let everything she says roll off your back. When she makes accusations, respond by saying "You may be right." and not trying to defend yourself. This may take some of the steam out of her resentments.

2. Decide that while you love your daughter and want a relationship with her and her children, you are no longer willing to put up with her behavior. Meet her in public places where she is less likely to become verbally abusive.

And one thing to try that you haven't mentioned--meet with her alone (without your husband) and ask her if there is anything specific that happened in her childhood that you may not know about. If there isn't anything that she's been keeping from you, ask her what are the worst things she remembers about her childhood. Listen to her, validate her feelings, and don't try to rationalize her feelings away. Talk with her from your heart---and leave your hurt feelings out of the conversation.

It is possible that because you were dealing with a terrible situation, and had to leave her father when she was only two months old...that you may not have had the emotional energy to fully bond with her when she was an infant. You may have been able to be there some of the time for her, but it is likely that your attention and thoughts were directed at getting out and keeping the two of you safe.

When a child's main caregiver is only emotionally present some of the time, the child can have what is called a "disorganized attachment" Here is a link that describes the types of attachment problems that can arise when life is chaotic when the child is an infant.

You did the best you could
by getting out of an abusive situation and keeping your daughter safe. However, the situation could have easily left the child feeling insecurely attached to you. Her current behavior (hot and cold) seems to suggest this could be the case.

So her experience of her early years could be very different from yours. The only thing you can do now, if this is truly the case, is offer your undivided attention--without your husband--as often as possible. You may want to tell her the story of her infancy, if she doesn't already know it. If she is in therapy, this information would be extremely important for her therapist to know, as she could help her work on her attachment issues.

I hope this gives you a new way to think about the situation, and to have some compassion for her mixed-up behavior. There is no blame in this situation: it was your duty as her mother to protect her from an abusive father...but that doesn't mean that your daughter isn't still feeling some effects from that situation.

I will keep the two of you in my prayers, that you are able to strengthen the mother-daughter bond.
Suzanne and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Suzanne, she wants nothing to do with me, she says she hates me and wishes I was not her mother.

How do I go about contacting her when she will not accept my calls or she will lament some more?

Should I just forget her-try to?
Expert:  Suzanne replied 6 years ago.
No, I don't think you should forget your daughter...I don't think that would be really possible.

However, use the time between now and when she makes contact again to really educate yourself about attachment problems--easily researched on the internet. The more you can understand what might be fueling her odd behavior, the more compassion you will be able to extend to her.

As you mentioned earlier, she goes in and out of wanting contact. She will probably reach out again in a few months. In the meantime, write her a personal letter (a real letter, not email) stating that you love her and want to fix the relationship. Tell her that when she is ready, you'd like the two of you to spend some time together-- just the two of you.

Sign it yourself, and keep it all about you and this point, leave any mention of your husband out of things. This issue, it seems, is really between you and your daughter. She may not respond right away, but you will be able to sleep at night knowing that you have done the right thing...whether she accepts it or not.

This is nothing that can be forced, so in the meantime, educate yourself, and reach out to her by mail...and then let it go. Send loving prayers and thoughts to her each day, and then go on with your life until she is ready to try again.