Need advice


Daughter is 14 and spends lots of time with my mother in law. mother in law is old school and likes control. Daughter is bipolar and controlled by the uncontrollable nature of bipolar. Daughter just started therapy and has been in it a week. She also has been on medications for bipolar for a week. mother in law is having trouble understanding that daughter can't be parented in the exact same way mother in law parented her kids. mother in law is also having trouble understanding that daughter has little to no control over mood swings and mother in law has little patience for them. Daughter wants everyone to be patient and understanding of her and that she does not have control over this all, but when we who are also learning, struggle, she has no patience for us. I'm learning quickly how daughter needs me to parent her, but I have always been much more flexible and go with the flow. I'm helping daughter understand she has to work with us and try to be patient with us, because we are learning like she is; she is helping or trying to help us learn how to parent her. This is all a growing process for everyone.

mother in law is having trouble being more flowing in how she does things and less uptight and controlling. I often find myself caught in the middle of daughter and mother in law acting as the go between to help them understand each other. Daughter also being 14 and not an adult and parent has difficulty understanding where we are coming from on some, well most, things. We all know you just don't understand what it is to be a parent until you are one, and no teenager gets what it is like to be a parent especially a parent of teenagers.

I want mother in law to come to family therapy night since she spends so much time with daughter. I think it'd be a good step towards helping us all understand each other. Daughter said no because she believes mother in law will try to control the session and wants an easy fix to make daughter behave the way mother in law wants. mother in law is very worried about how things make her appear to everyone. She has actually not told anyone she knows about daughter being bipolar or the issues we have because she is embarrassed by it. That is all another reason I want mother in law at family therapy with us. This is not an embarrassment. It's my child and we need support from everyone, including our friends in the community that interact with daughter. mother in law seems to want that picture perfect family. Others can have issues but we can't.

I am at a loss on how to handle this. Right now if daughter gets irritated or anything with anyone I'm the one she comes to even if I am not with her. I do my best to keep her calm and talk her thru how to handle situations. I do not assume everything she tells me is right, because it's skewed from her perspective like their story is skewed from their perspective. I always assume she and whoever she is with are not understanding each other and the truth is somewhere in the middle and I talk her thru that as best I can. It is sometimes frustrating for me, like today. Today is my chance for a mental and emotional break to take care of myself and daughter starts texting me about mother in law not being patient with her. Obviously I'm not with them, but I'm still in the middle trying to help them both chill out and enjoy their day trip.

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Welcome! I'm glad you found our soft place to land but sorry you needed to. You are absolutely right that your daughter cannot be patented in the typical ways. It's too bad your mother-in-law can't see this as well.

Does she need to spend lots of time with her grandmother or does she choose to do so? I'm sorry you are caught in the middle. I love that you realize your daughter is not an embarrassment and she needs help.

Again, welcome and glad you found us.


Well-Known Member
Daughter is 14 and spends lots of time with my mother in law. mother in law is old school and likes control.
Hi Momma.

Welcome. I will tell you what I think. You (with her father) are the parent and you get to decide what is right for your daughter, at least for now until she rebels, which I hate to tell you, may be soon to come.

If it were me I would want that the adults around my child understood how to respond and treat her. That implies knowledge of her illness and what will best support her.

If your daughter is choosing to be with her grandmother, it is she (your daughter) that needs to understand that her grandmother must accept her needs, and be willing to see them as important. She cannot have it both ways. She cannot exclude her grandmother from the family therapy because grandmother is controlling--and at the same time seek her out.

Now if there is another reason your daughter is so much with mother in law, for example, because mother in law demands it, or you as her parents depend upon grandmother to watch the kids, etc., and it is not the choice of daughter to so much be with her grandmother--it is another thing altogether. She should have the right both to exclude the lady as well as to express her wishes, to the extent possible, to limit contact.

It is either the one or the other.

Now. You should not have to run around behind everybody to clean this up. How exhausting. You should not be their method of communicating with each other. That is surely not good for you--or for your daughter--especially your daughter.

If the grandmother and granddaughter cannot express themselves directly, I would question the benefit of so much time spent in each other's company. Also, if grandmother, cannot or will not accept, or try to understand daughter's needs, and indeed may want to deny them, or conceal from others the reality of things--I would worry.

In any event, you are the one who will decide this. Not grandmother or daughter. And you must.

That is what I think.

Keep posting. Glad you found us. Take care.


Well-Known Member
Daughter is 14 and spends lots of time with my mother in law. mother in law is old school and likes control. Daughter is bipolar and controlled by the uncontrollable nature of bipolar. Daughter just started therapy and has been in it a week. She also has been on medications for bipolar for a week. mother in law is having trouble understanding that daughter can't be parented in the exact same way mother in law parented her kids
Let's see here.
The child in this story is 14 and female. Without ANY other thing going on, that combination of age and gender is ... a major challenge. This is the age when they start asserting independence, trying their wings. It's also an age where some major mistakes can be made. Tighter controls is the wrong direction. You know that - your mother-in-law does not, or will not accept it.

Next we add in a very recent bi-polar diagnosis. Your mother in law grew up in an age where even a hint of mental illness was shame on the family. She hasn't learned new ways of thinking. It's just who she is. And it takes significant time to find the right medication(s) and other interventions, and for stability to develop. Due to the hormones in this age group... stability can be years in the making.

I'm not sure "family therapy" is going to solve anything. As your daughter seems to be self-aware enough to know that there is a problem, it may be time to explore other options that might replace some of the time she spends with grandma.


Well-Known Member
I agree with Insane, although in our case one of my boys and one girl were equally difficult and also one of my boys and one girl presented no drama at all. I think it depends on the kiddo.

I think that daughter is getting something out of seeking out Grandma and would not try to interfere because, unless she is very compliant, she won't listen or she will ramp up drama and blame you. You also can't force Grandma to do research and "get it" if she doesn't feel like it. Everyone your daughter seeks out will not necessarily understand her and her issues and she needs to learn to understand this.

I have mental illness and had to learn that not everyone I loved would understand me. Daughter will back off from Grandma herself if she is no longer being fulfilled by the relationship. She is old enough to decide, unless, of course, she is being abused. Then she is young enough that you can still step in. She's at an iffy age. She is growing up with disabilities (and needs to slowly learn to deal with both) and is also not yet grown up. But you will never be able to control her choices like when she was eight. Never again. Not without a fight.

I would not force her to include Grandma in family therapy. I agree with Insane on this.

There is a new term called helicopter parents. Apparently, they try to micro manage their kids even at college, if there is college, and beyond...and then sometimes they try this even after marriage. I do not think you are such a parent. I simply brought it up because I think it is a terrible, losing parenting have parents managing their lives so they either allow it and don't grow up ever or they rebel viciously to the point of deep resentment, even estrangement.

By 14, I started letting my kids help me decide their life choices. I stopped them the best I could if they hooked up with bad people but, to be honest, that was not successful. By sixteen, two years from now, kids do basically force you to accept their choices. They are not prone to obeying our wishes for them, especially if they are differently wired. Respect her insight into Granma. She obviously loves her a lot, but knows what her downfalls are knows she will not play nice at therapy.

Teens are letting go times...they need to start to learn to live without us telling them what to do. I had bad mental illness in my teens. That made it even more mandatory that I learn to navigate a hostile world. Typical teens usually can transition to after high school and adulthood easily. They don't need our hovering. Disabled teens need our guidance, sometimes into adult hoodb(if they ask for it) but they still need to learn to make their own decisions. Baby steps, like deciding to leave Grandma out of therapy, in my opinion is a good start.

I don't know what caused that

The short of it is, trust daughter in this. That is my opinion. Take what you like, if anything, and leave the rest :). You should do this with every post. Keep what is right for you and let the rest go. We all have opinions but are all different as well.
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pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
MommaK, I'm coming at this issue from a completely different angle. I tend to agree with your daughter that Grandma won't do well in the therapy sessions. Ideally, yes, it would be great if everyone were on the same page with your daughter. Realistically, that will never happen.

I think I would be attempting to find somewhere different for my daughter to stay if she and Grandma are like oil and water. I also think that when you have a day to yourself which you definitely deserve, that I would not answer any texts from my daughter involving relationship issues. I'm thinking of you here. You didn't need to be sucked into the drama between the two of them. I'm not sure you can bridge this gap.

If staying with Grandma is her only option, then daughter needs to find a way to cope. Bipolar or not, all of us have to find a way to survive difficult people. Grandma is not going to be the only hard-headed "do as I say" adult in her life. There will be many teachers like that in her future. I think daughter can learn some valuable life skills from learning how to cope with Grandma's rules. Daughter can't go over to her house expecting understanding from Grandma that she isn't going to receive. She has to find a different way to connect with rigid Grandma. If Grandma is anything like the older generation in my family, she will not sway from her long-standing beliefs.


Active Member
This is quite easy - you are VERY MUCH on the right track! Good job!

Anyway simple - mother in law needs to go to family therapy. (Tell daughter there are many family members out there who would refuse to go to family therapy sessions - that is half the battle. So here therapy is set up and everyone is willing to go. The therapist will take care of any person's particular issues as needed - so not to worry!)


Daughter asks to spend time with mother in law and agrees to spend time with mother in law when mother in law asks. Daughter has a bad issue with wanting to play one against the other. If she is with husband or mother in law she calls me. If she is with me she calls mother in law and it always happens when someone either doesn't give her exactly what she wants when she wants or tries to enforce a hard rule. In our home we have hard rules such as respect for others,their things and their time, completing the couple of chores assigned, and taking medications. Others are soft rules that we are much more flexible with like use of cell phone, dinner as a family type stuff. If she gets called out for not being respectful (it's ok to disagree but do it respectfully) then we are not being understanding. If she last minute informs us she has made plans and we don't let her do them, then are not trying to be understanding of her needs. Daughter thinks it's perfectly ok for her to become angry with people, but no one is supposed to become angry with her. In her mind it's ok for her to make a mistake but no one else is supposed to make a mistake. It's ok for her to show emotions when happy angry or irritated but we are not supposed to. Lately she has tried to make me tell her my plans and clear them with her before I do anything. She recently told me I'm not allowed to go outside at home (I sit on the deck or driveway and enjoy the good weather) unless I tell her where I am going first because she may need me and not know where to find me. Keep in mind I have always done this and she has found me outside to tell me this.

mother in law is honestly trying to learn, but changing her thinking is a slow process. mother in law has her issues, but with dad not being much support, mother in law is my support. Amazingly we are on very similar pages when it comes to daughter tho that has not always been the case. My goal is not to control my kids. I cant. They were born with minds of their own and form their own opinions and thoughts. My goal is to guide and teach them as best I can. With daughter everything is very black and white for everyone else but it's all gray for her.


Well-Known Member
Phew! It seems like a lot got dumped on your plate. As a grandparent of a grandson with mental health issues, my husband and I, who spend more time with him than either of his divorced parents, have had to learn and fast. It has been hard to unlearn all that we've learned for my husband and me. I did it faster than my husband because I'm a Special Education teacher and had to learn to get my credential. But, to see my husband turn from one of those judgmental old codgers to someone who will advocate for grandson, talk about it with others and share (this was WAY against his nature and upbringing) has been wonderful. He did get a kickstart on this when his daughter came out as gay, got married to a woman and had a baby, now 11. (This is my second husband--for 35 years now--and I brought three kids and he brought two kids in the marriage, no kids between us).

For us, it was reading books, taking grandson to his therapy meetings (always held while parents are at work--why is that?), and keeping our minds and hearts open. And I'm not saying this to be flippant, but girls that age seem to be challenging just because, and bi-polar seems to be a particularly challenging diagnosis to adjust to. And they are trying out their influence over others. Having everyone on the same page seems to be really hard. We can't get grandson's father on the same page at all, nor the other grandparents. But, we've got the school, My husband and myself, and the therapists. We can't get everyone on board because that is their choice not to do the work (and patience) that it takes. Grandson is only 9 (almost 10) and I shudder to think what is coming our way. But, because we've been dealing with this for quite awhile now, we kind of know what roles people play and are willing to play. I hope I get surprised someday and see some people in grandson's life step up, but I can't make that happen.

And you will get some great advice here. It's all given through our own experiences, of course, so take what works, consider the rest. And welcome.