When to reach out and when to let them reach out?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by dashcat, Jan 14, 2012.

  1. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    My difficult child goes into no talking no mom phases from time to time. Usually, these stem from my calling her on something she doesn't want to deal with. In those cases, I just wait and she eventually comes around.

    This time is a bit different for a couple of reasons: 1. She now lives in an apt with her boyfriend. In the past, she lived with Mr. Ostrich, so at least I knew a little about how she was doing. 2. She's also not communicating with dad ..this is VERY unusual but I know the reason at least: she owes him money (posted about this earlier this week).

    I don't know if I should reach out again, or just wait. She texted me last Saturday: "Mom, I'm at work. Been super busy. Do you have time for lunch on Monday?". This is after two weeks of her not returning calls or texts. I only called twice and texted twice during this period. I respond "Lunch could work. Give me a call tomorrow. I love you." Her response "Will do. I love you, too."

    Then, crickets.

    I'm sad, disappointed but - mostly - concerned. Part of me thinks, ok, she's twenty, she's a difficult child, she's self-centered, don't take it personally. The other part of me thinks, she's a difficult child...anything could be happening.


    So, what's the verdict wise warriors? Do you reach out to your kids when you don't hear from them ? I'm not talking about times when they are being absolute trolls ..we've all been there and that is different. What about the times when you're worried about them but you don't want to appear pushy or needy?

  2. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I feel stupid, what does "crickets" mean? Did she not get in contact with you to set up lunch? I would text her and say something like, I'm sorry we didn't get to meet up for lunch and would really like to do that this week, what day is good for you?

    I know I have to initiate contact with difficult child often, she just doesn't call or text for no reason. I usually end up replying to something she posts on fb and she will answer me but if I want a real conversation I usually have to be the one to initiate it. Unless she wants something of course lol.

  3. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    This has happened with my difficult child also. It's difficult, but I usually don't do anything. Then, when she makes contact again and suggests we get together, I will say something like, 'We should make a date this time'. Sometimes a comment like that will **** her off and other times it will make her think and hold her accountable. If it peeves her and she says something snotty, I will go back to her with what I feel is just plain honesty and common courtesy: 'I'd love to meet you for lunch, but if you blow me off, I could be doing something else, Know what I mean??'

    You don't want to be tiptoeing around her, but you don't want to go out of your way to **** her off. If a friend, cousin r sister did this to you, how would you respond? In a kind manner, of course, but you'd also let it be known that you're not a doormat either. Hugs, it's tough.
  4. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    Sorry, Nancy, didn't mean to be cryptic. "Crickets" is silence, meaning she never called. Also, right before this (about five days), I'd called and she answered with "Hey mom, I'm just leaving for work. I get off at 8. Can I call you then?" I said "sure". We hung up and she didn't call ... so this is two times in a row.

    Hearts, I like your method of calling her on it. It's non-confrontatlonal but it also says what needs to be said. I'm still walking the line on this one.

    I've tried reaching out so many times. ...it's not that I'm keeping score, I just can't tell if she's trying to tell me - through her non-response - to back off or if she's sliding down into a dark hole. She hasn't been posting on FB at all (or if she is, she's doing "custom" posts that exclude me).
  5. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    I've think the tendency to be vague w parents is pretty typical of difficult child's AND pcs who are transitioning to adulthood

    I struggle with this too- both with difficult child and pc17 - so I try to specific in my communications. Funny thing is that I don't try to read into it w easy child-I am just so used to 2nd guessing everything w difficult child!

    So, when she asked about lunch, I would reply-"Love to-Panera at 1:00"

    Or when she didn't call at 8:00, I might call her at 8:30 and say " I didn't hear from you at 8:00, so I thought I'd call you..."

    With my own difficult child (and easy child), I try to be specific. Instead of texting or asking "Do you know what time you will be home?" (which leads to "not sure, I'll let you know") I ask "When will you be home?" I've finally learned not to hope they will volunteer the information I want- so I just flat out ask. Likewise when either says vaguely, "we should (see this movie, eat Chinese, etc) I reply -"ok, does Thursday work? "

    In an honest full disclosure - I've learned to do this w H too
  6. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    As is the tendency to... not initiate conversations unless they want something.

    That's the part that complicates things.... the 2nd-guessing!
    And the difficult children don't like it that we ARE 2nd-guessing...

    It starts long before adult-hood...
  7. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    dash, I think part of it is her being a difficult child and part of it is just being a 20-year-old. They are just so self-centered at that age and parents are just expected to be there when they want us to be and to let them be when they are busy with their own lives.

    I just stay busy with my own life and pretty much just let both my easy child and difficult child initiate contact. My easy child has even commented that I don't call her every day like some of her friends' moms do. I just laugh and tell her that I have a life.

    easy child calls and texts me a lot more now that she is teaching. I think it is part of the natural process of growing up. She likes to meet husband and me on Fridays for dinner so we can discuss our week. difficult child usually calls when she wants something.

    Last edited: Jan 15, 2012
  8. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I wish I had an answer for you. I don't know if there is a right or wrong thing to do here. I know it hurts when it seems as though the only time we hear from them is when they are trying to manipulate.
  9. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Oh I have been there with difficult child many times. It is hard to know when to initiate and when to just wait. I agree with others it is both the age and the gfgness. I have been thinking back to my own young adulthood...and I was NOT a difficult child and very close to my mom. However I took her totally for granted... she was there when I needed her. It is a time when even PCs are pretty self centered and not really thinking of moms feelings. With my easy child 16 year old daughter, who is living at home, I have learned to back off and follow her cues for when she wants to talk with me.

    It is so much harder with a difficult child because we worry so much more and our imaginations can so easily run away with us and unfortunately in the past our worries have had good cause.

    So it is finding the balance between backing off and reaching out and letting her know you want contact. So I think I would send her a simple text.... "thinking about you, hows it going?". I would not confront her.. I would just simply reach out and see if she responds. If she doesn't' then grit your teeth and wait it out until she does.

    If she suggests lunch or getting together then I woudl try and pin her down in that conversation... like "Monday would be great, how about 1 at Panera". Then to be honest on Monday I would text her and let her know you will be there at 1.

    Hang in there... this parenting young adults is not for the faint hearted.

  10. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    Thanks, everyone. You are all so wonderful and so wise. I do know this is not behavior exclusive to a difficult child. Like TL, I was not a difficult child and I loved my parents but certainly took them for granted. I am so grateful that they lived long enoughfor me to grow up and show them the respect, attention and love they deserved.

    Like many of you have stated, the worries with a difficult child are so much greater.

    I know if something had happened to her, I would have heard. I know that, most likely, she's just being twenty. But the nagging voice of the been there done that mom of a difficult child just keeps humming in the background. If I were to narrow it down to one concern, that would be my concern over her state of mind.

    I found out yesterday that a very dear friend's mother was killed in a weather-related car crash. This friend is a mom, was close to her parents (though they live three hours away) and a great daughter. She is suffering enormousiy and I worry about what will happen to my difficult child if something happens to me..another concern I know we all share.

    I texted her yesterday: "Hi Sweetie. Thinking about you." No response.

    If I don't hear by tomorrow, I'll send another with a "How's it going?" question...Wish I'd done that yesterday because it seems like a better approach to ask a question than to just make a statement.

    In any case, your support and suggestions are really helping.

  11. Kathy813

    Kathy813 Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree with TL. You've reached out and she didn't respond so I would not follow up in a couple of days with another text. in my humble opinion, I would just wait until she contacts you. I know it is hard but I almost think it is a game difficult child's play.

  12. dashcat

    dashcat Member

    She texted me yesterday late afternoon: "Are you home?". I was and texted back "Yes. How are you?" One second later, the doorbell rings and she is standing there. She hugs me, says she wants to take me to lunch (but I have to drive, her care is dirty - LOL). It is 3:00 in the afternoon and I've already had lunch, but I am happy to go out for coffee and dessert - and we do.

    She's fine. You were right.

    It's hard to separate the difficult child from the twenty year old. A 20 year old easy child goes for a period without calling, and we're annoyed. A difficult child goes without calling, and we are scannign the police blotter and googling like crazy people.

    She's still a difficult child, for sure....but,in this case, the worry was for naught.


    ps. Talked to Mr. Ostrich last night. He claims he is going to send her a letter reminding her of her promisory note. If she does not act, he will take the car. My prediction: he'll send the letter, she'll call him crying, they'll strike a deal for some piddly amount of money, and that will be it. Not my problem.