Don't know if my 22 yr. old has behavior problems, or we are too harsh. Feel awful!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by shellyk, Dec 23, 2012.

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  1. shellyk

    shellyk New Member

    I have a 22 year old and 19 year old daughter. My youngest is going to school to be a pilot, and has joined the air guard, and just came home to spend Christmas with us. My oldest is going to school for Spanish, but has had a difficult time being successful in college due to depression and other issues. She came home a couple of weeks ago, and told me that she feels everyone is so proud of my youngest, everyone meaning extended family members, and thinks she is worthless. I tried everything I could to let her know how proud I was of her, and how much I loved her.

    I have been excited for a month for tonight. I spent all day yesterday baking, bought presents for both of them, and planned an evening of fonduing, decorating the tree, and just having a really special night. At 5:00, I opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate us being together, brought out some shrimp and other appetizers, and gave the kids their gifts. The gift I gave each of my girls was a very pretty nativity scene. My oldest rolled her eyes, and had a look of anger on her face. She has denied her faith, and it breaks my heart. I ignored her, and later told her in a light voice that she could feel free to return it. During the rest of the time she continued to text on her phone, even after I asked her not to. My youngest then got angry at something and left. I was hurt and left.

    My youngest apologized, but when we confronted my oldest about her behavior, she informed us she did nothing wrong. I told ehr that she seems so angry, and that she doesn't accept how her behavior affects others. She proceeded to be cold and blame us for being "weird". I then went too far and told her she seemed so cold and wasn't able to be loving. She got up and said she was leaving and would find another place to stay for the time she was home. I started to beg her to talk about this, but she continued to say I was "disgusting". A few hours later, I again tried to talk to her and kept apologizing for what I had said, that I was hurt by the texting and how she reacted with the gift. She still will not talk to me and again called me "f.ed up and disgusting".

    I am so sick about this and can't believe she talked to me like this. I feel like I have given her everything, and am always there for her, but she seems angry so often and anytime she hears me discussing anything related to faith or my politics, she will get angry and say rude comments.

    I don't know if we are giving her so much that we are contributing to her behavior of disrespect, or if she really feels like we favor my younger daughter. I love both of my daughters more than everything. When my oldest was born, I finally felt that I had a purpose for living. Now I feel like things are getting so messed up, that I am the contributing factor and this causes me more depression and guilt than I have ever thought I could possibly feel.

    Sorry this is so long, but I truly would be so appreciative of any help or insight you could give me. Any questions you have, I will try to answer as honestly as possible.
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Hi, and welcome.
    Being the holidays, responses might be sporadic, but hang in there, people will respond.

    Given the ages of your daughters, you might want to re-post into "parent emeritus", the board for kids over 18 and/or not at home. You might get more relevant responses over there, as some of the PE parents don't spend su much time over here in "general".

    Meanwhile... I don't have adult kids. But my first reaction is, has your difficult child ever had a comprehensive evaluation? Are there any diagnoses that are contributing to her behaviour? You mention depression - is she in treatment for it? are you?
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I second going to Parent Emeritus. I post there because I have grown kids. Is your daughter doing drugs?

    If not, there isn't much you can do but back off. She's an adult now and you can't force her to be nice or to believe in your faith, and I agree with daughter that your gift to her was a passive way to push your beliefs on her. She didn't have to be rude about it, but in my opinion you have to respect her beliefs even if it bothers you, since she is now over 18. If she wants to stay with a friend, there is also nothing you can do about it. And if you still support her and give her money and, say, pay for her cell phone and car insurance and don't expect anything back from her, I would say you are probably encouraging her to be irresponsible and to stay a child. You can not force an adult child to get help for mental health issues, nor is depression an excuse to be a jerk. I have suffered with depression most of my life.

    I have grown children. It becomes impossible for us to control their lives after a certain age, but we don't have to give them things. In fact, I don't think it's good for adult children not to have to support themselves as much as they can when they are in college and 100% afterward. But if they live in your house, your rules. If she can emotionally blackmail you by staying with a friend, apparently she will.

    Unless drugs are involved, it seems that she is just a bit unpleasant and perhaps you are trying to still control her and that's a bad combination. You can't control anyone except yourself. You can learn to back off and detach when she is unpleasant and let her grow up, even if she takes a few hard knocks. If you maybe unintentionally brag too much about youngest in front of oldest, I'd back off of that.

    Welcome to the board :)
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi, I have three sons and the two youngest seem to be in competition with each other all the time. At the moment it is more of a playful thing between the two of them but when they were kids it wasnt. Right now the youngest is supposedly the favored because he got his father two beagles for his birthday and the middle one got him nothing but you sure couldnt tell it if you lived in my house. My middle son just doesnt know what goes in here. Middle son actually told youngest the other day he hadnt called youngest recently because the youngest had taken over his place as favored child. He was joking but it in this case it actually made my youngest feel
  5. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    If your daughter spoke to you like that, she should be ashamed. OK, maybe the Nativity scene was something you would appreciate more than she would, but really, if my mother went to any trouble at all to buy and wrap me a gift, then bring out appetizers, graciously handed me a gift, no matter what it was - it could be a dirty sock for all I care, I would accept it graciously in the manner it was given! They owe you an apology, that is for sure.
  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome Shelly. I'm sorry you are feeling so bad, sometimes the relationships with our adult children can be complicated and end up being hurtful for us and for them too. You mentioned your oldest daughter suffers from depression, which can certainly lend itself to feelings of low self esteem. First and foremost, I don't think your oldest has a right to speak to you in the manner she did, it's disrespectful and it may be a good idea to make every attempt to nip that behavior in the bud by making boundaries around how you are treated.

    Having said that, I can also see how your daughter might feel misunderstood and/or not have her feelings on religion respected by a religious gift certainly given by you with good intentions, but given her feelings of worthlessness and her depression, that gift may have been interpreted differently then you intended. Mothers and daughters have complex issues already, once you add depression, the holidays, your expectations of a family gathering which exudes the holiday spirit, your daughters own competitions and expectations you have a volatile mix of dramatic feelings. I think most of us come to the holiday table with many often unrealistic expectations and when they don't get met, we get disappointed and if we don't quite know how to communicate that disappointment clearly, anger would be the result.

    It sounds to me as if there are many different things going on at the same time. I think sometimes as parents we continue to exert our beliefs on our adult children, which may just feel like conversations to us, but sometimes to our kids it feels like control and lack of understanding for their stand on things. Your daughter is an adult with a right to her opinions on politics and religion which may not only disagree with yours but be polar opposite, and yet she still deserves to be respected for her opinions even though they differ from yours. Even as adults we seek our parents approval and your oldest may have felt as if the gift was a 'disapproval' of her beliefs.

    It sounds as if feelings were hurt, stuff got out of hand and no one knows how to rectify it. I think if it were me, I would contact my daughter and apologize for the nativity gift saying I can understand how that may have appeared to negate her own feelings on religion and I'm sorry, that was not my intention at all. That I will respect her feelings about religion and politics and ask that she do the same with mine. I would also say that I was hurt and angry about her response and feel an apology is in order so we can both move on. Mutual respect is the way through I think.

    It's tough to wade through all the feelings, but your love for your daughters is obvious and that will guide you through. As they grow into adults we have to shift our parenting to allow them their own beliefs separate from ours, it really sounds as if doing that alone will make a big difference. I wish you a smooth road through and warm wishes that your holiday brings you the loving connections with your daughters that you desire. (((HUGS))))
  7. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I don't think (based on what you posted) that your daughter has behavior issues. I think she is very frustrated that her faith (which does not appear to be the same as the one you raised her) is not being respected. I understand that many Christian denominations insist that you must evangelicize to all, but perhaps you could take a different approach with her -- continue to pray for her, model good behavior as defined by your faith but allow her to work through her path in her own time. It may be that there is a teaching or two from your church that she does not agree with -- while sometimes that will cause someone to walk away from the faith completely, it is far more common that they work for a better understanding of the teaching, look at the whole of the faith and decide to rejoin their faith community as an active member.
  8. ready2run

    ready2run New Member

    i can't stand when my mom pushes her religious views on me, and to be honest i react much the same way your daughter did. i get so frustrated with her not letting me be comfortable with my own beliefs. maybe you should stop preaching at her and let her find her own path, while encouraging her along her own path regardless of if it suits your beliefs or not. i know when my mom does stuff like telling me how much happier i'd be if i just found jesus i want to scream in her face, and at 22 i would have not been able to handle it as i can now. it still bothers me though. i feel like when she does that it is insulting to my intelligence, threatening to my own beliefs and it hurts my feelings because it makes me feel like i am not living up to her standards and that i never will unless i pretend to be someone i am not. let your daughter be herself and she will eventually fell more comfortable being around you.
  9. allhaileris

    allhaileris Crumbling Family Rock

    Personally, I don't think there is a single thing wrong with what your daughter did. She sounds a lot like me, and I did have depression issues starting around that time, which makes her reaction harsher, but that's not what this is about. It's about the fact that she's obviously not Christian. Why would you give her a nativity scene if she doesn't believe in it? I would get just as upset or more if my Mom did this to me. I still get in huge "discussions" with my mom and sister over their beliefs (right wing, christian). The fact that my mom won't UNDERSTAND me at all is what makes me mad. The fact that it's all or nothing with her. She's like "well I know how much you hate Christmas" to me the other day, I have to keep reminding her that I celebrate YULE, a Pagan holiday, we had Yule tree up, I celebrate the seasons with my daughter. Evergreen trees were brought in by the pagans, most Christian holidays were stolen from the Pagans, etc etc. Does she ever acknowledge this, no. If I wanted to be Muslim or Jewish or believe in the church of the flying spaghetti monster, I have that right, and she needs to accept it.

    As it is now, its easier to just not talk to this kind of stuff with her. I suggest you do the same with your daughter, or just flat out accept her as her and get over it. Send her an apology saying you are sorry for not understanding her and next time you get her a gift, get one she actually likes, or just give her the money. Because part of what makes Christmas yucky is seeing Consumerism at it's finest, wasting money on stuff people don't actually want.

    I'm sure this sounds harsh, I'm on sudafed, but I know too well where your daughter is coming from.
  10. shellyk

    shellyk New Member

    Oh my. Thank you so much for your kindness and intelligent insight. It is so difficult when in my heart I truly believe that without jesus there is no eternal love for one of the two people i love and treasure the most. That being said though I absolutely agree with you on the fact she does not feel valued and feeling controlled by us. She is so intelligent, yet depressed your words have helped me to try and understand and figure out my actions. Anymore you have would be warmly welcomed.
  11. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Giving a nativity scene as a present when you know your daughter has denied your faith (your faith - not hers) was sure to not go over well. I would expect some blowback. However, I think her name calling was out of line. She is 21 and depressed and is not going to handle it as well as one with more experience and a better emotional frame of mind. And if your younger daughter accepts your faith as hers, your older daughter may be feeling like the "black sheep" - especially if she is struggling with depression which just sucks self-esteem and confidence out of a person. It sounds like the present really triggered some anger in your daughter. Just guessing here. There needs to be mutual respect between the two of you regarding religion and politics, but if your daughter doesn't think you respect her beliefs and political ideology, then she won't respect yours. I think you need to call a truce and go from there.

    Is she receiving therapy or medications for her depression?
  12. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Is it possible that she is gay? My cousin is gay and she struggled greatly with her parents strong Christian faith and how to tell them. She ended up deciding that since they couldn't accept her decision not to stay with their faith, that they would never accept that she was gay. So she simply left. My aunt and uncle have not seen her for over 10 years. (It is so sad because while there may have been an initial pushback, they would have accepted it and the rest of the family wouldn't have cared -- my 90 year old grandparents were long time (60+ years) friends with a gay couple.)

    Sometimes what she is not saying is very important ...
  13. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I took a long time to post and you got your post in before I did. I think JJJ brings up a good point. What your daughter isn't saying could be very important.

    On your religious views vs your daughter's - I'll just tell you a story.

    My daughter is an atheist (or do you just say "she is atheist"? I'm never sure). I personally don't have a problem with it. I'm not a religious person. My mom was a bit shocked which surprised me because while she considers herself a Christian, she hasn't been to church since I was 3 years old. I've never thought of her as anything but spiritual. My grandmother, however, was shocked and appalled. Right away she started quoting scripture. I stopped her and asked her what she thought she was going to accomplish by quoting from a book that my daughter believes to be a work of fiction? I thought about that exact scenario with my grandmother when I was reading your post.

    I presented your scenario to my daughter to get her reaction. She responded that she wouldn't have a problem with that gift (though, she wouldn't be overjoyed either) because that is what Christmas means to the person giving it, as long as her beliefs (or lack thereof) were otherwise respected.
  14. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    In my grad school Philosophy of Logic class, I destroyed my debate opponent with that exact fact. He had based his premises on quotes from the Bible. When I challenged him to prove that his quotes were true, he just sputtered and kept repeating that the Bible said it and the Bible was the literal truth. I started quoting Alice in Wonderland and he responded that it wasn't the same because Alice was fiction. So I challenged him to prove that the Bible was not fiction. I think the only reason he didn't scream that I was a heretic was that the professor cut off the debate at that point because I had clearly won. My opponent kept repeating 'but it's the Bible". The professor explained that if he was debating with someone who also held the Bible to be truth, then it could be a premise but without that agreement, it had to be proven.
  15. allhaileris

    allhaileris Crumbling Family Rock

    I'm sorry, but that's really sad. You're basing your love for your daughter off of some fictional character (in my opinion, and I'm pushing that part to be a voice for your daughter)? Am I totally misunderstanding this? Eternal Love? What about the unconditional love you'd show your children no matter what? If my mom said this to me, or I found out she said this, I probably would never talk to her again, or completely flip out on her. That's how bad I think that sounds.

    I know you believe in the bible (to me, a fictional novel made to teach illiterate people about morals), but your daughter doesn't. Period. Take the stupid religious stuff away from your relationship!!!! Gosh, this makes me so upset, to see you treating your daughter like that! Shelly - the relationship you have with your daughter is between the two of you, not between you, her and an imaginary being. She is a real person right in front of you. She needs you, she doesn't need the propaganda.

    And again, I know this sounds harsh, but geez, please put yourself in her shoes just for a minute. Accept her for her, not for her differences. It seems, to me, the reason she got so mad was because you've probably been pushing the religious stuff on her for a long time, she's told you lots of times, and you just don't listen. Treat her views with a little respect and she'll stop disrespecting yours.

    Shelly - your adult child is normal. Perfectly normal. Most of us have it a billion times worse.
  16. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Shelly came here for advice, but I think referring to her beliefs as stupid, fictional and sad is compounding the rudeness she feels she is encountering with her daughter. I think Shelly acknowledged she is looking for a better way to communicate with her daughter, and she seems to feel bad enough already. No matter what, she is a mother who clearly cares, and no one, including her daughter or board members regardless of their beliefs or lack thereof, should speak to her with disdain.
    The fact is, her older daughter visited her mom for Christmas. A very Holy day for Christians. She obviously knows her mother is quite religious, she grew up there, and Christmas is first and foremost a religious holiday. My feeling is...if you're visiting a very religious person, who happens to be your mom, who celebrates the true meaning of the actual holiday...don't be surprised at her devotion and her trying to share her joy at the holiday with both her daughters. If you love your mom, I'd think you'd be happy for whatever brings joy to her, even if you strongly disagree with her beliefs. Even if the mom feels it necessary to try in vain to persuade her daughter, a more gentle response is called for, rather than, "you are f-ing crazy" - c''s your MOM, and it's CHRISTMAS. Otherwise, just skip Christmas at your mom's and visit on another day. Geez, people!
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I agree. This isn't a place to bash religious beliefs. There are plenty of Christians on this board and others who believe in God. I agree that there has to be mutual respect for each others beliefs, but daughter did not have to be so hateful. I took a different religious/spiritual path from my parents, but never belittled them for them beliefs and they tried plenty of times to push me in their direction. They finally gave up, but...there is no reason to make fun of anyone's beliefs.
  18. allhaileris

    allhaileris Crumbling Family Rock

    I was trying to be a voice for her daughter, otherwise I really try to stay out of people's religious dogmas because they're so illogical to me, the theories don't make any sense at all. To me this all hurts because I have been treated in exactly the same way that she's treating her daughter, by my own mother. It s*cks (oh, wait, s*cks is a "bad" word, I don't understand why in the slightest, so I have to correct it so you can see it). It's okay to be all into one's Christiantity, so why is it not okay to not believe in Chrisitanity? Why when somebody says that they don't, then it's bashing? I wasn't bashing in the slightest, I was trying to convey the fact that not everybody believes in it, and the fact that she wouldn't' love her daughter as much because of it, was horrible!! I was trying to tell her to let all that GO! One's love for their child should be based at all on one's belief in their deity.

    And I've said it again, I HATE HATE HATE the term difficult child and do not use it to describe my daughter. I wish this board could use a different term. My daughter was not a gift from anybody, she was made when a sperm and egg got together.
  19. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    This is why we do not discuss religion on this forum. I am locking this thread. Future advice for ShellyK can be given on a new thread.
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