Estranged from my Daughter

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    My daughter is 25. She’s a grown woman, with many accomplishments in her young life already. She is a newlywed, 2 years, to a very caring, responsible young man. She’s always been an achiever and bought her own house by 21, car, and put herself through college. She’s very determined and I’m proud of her strong mind.
    We’ve been estranged for about 1 1/2 years. Our phone calls began dropping off and then it resorted to texting. She says she’s disappointed by my “behavior” and doesn’t like the person I’ve become and if I don’t know what it is I’ve done to her then until I “figure it out”, she’s done with me.
    I’m at a loss here. I’ve told her I cannot read her mind, and she must share it. What behavior, what actions specifically have been hurtful? I got divorced a year and half ago, and I assumed it was tyied into that, but when I press her for direct answers, that is one of the only times she will answer me straightforward and say it’s not about that. I do have some guesses what she’s upset about, but they are only guesses, which truly do no good. I should say in the divorce that my ex husband and I have agreed our relationship is our personal business and we’ve consistently agreed not to discuss the reasons why of it with our family members. I do know my daughter has repeatedly pressed both of us for this information and we simply tell her it’s our personal relationship business we choose not to share-no fingers need pointed. She’s always disappointed with this answer.
    I continually ask her to talk to me, be open, tell me what I’ve done and it’s met with a vague accusation of how I’ve disappointed and hurt her. Unfortunately, she doesn’t say how.
    I know I’ve grown and became a more mature and calm person since the divorce. I’m not sporadic and I feel more calm and nno longer become easily angered. I can guess my growth has been unsettling, but truly, I can’t say. And, I would view my changes as positive, so I wouldn’t know why these would make my daughter upset.
    In any case, I need to know how to get through to her, and get her to talk to me and clearly state how I’ve hurt her.
    Frankly, the—If you don’t know what you did, then you’re not sorry– line I get from her is immature, and frustrates me to no end, as it could 100 different guesses on my part.
    Her inability to verbalize my offenses really puts us at an impasse.
    I’ve often pointed out how unconditional love is what we strive for–to accept and love each other without the strings and conditions.
    I’ve often asked her, isn’t being happy what we want for each other?
    These are questions often met with silence.
    Each time we text, I tell her whenever she’s ready, I’m ready to talk and resolve whatever our hurts are.

    Suggestions please. How to get her to open up?
    perhaps something I need to look inside myself at and consider?
    I’m at a loss here.


    I’m sorry you feel disconnected. I understand it must hurt alot. This is a choice of personal power. The serenity prayer is used at times like this. You have no control over anyone else but you. As you focus on having compassion for yourself, acknowledge your feelings as normal, and accept what is going on, You will be able to give yourself a reason to go on in peace, the reason is you. You are enough!
    Love yourself, You don’t ever have to let go of Loving anyone, you just have to let things be as they are. It’s time to take care of you.



    Dear TreenOfLane:

    You wrote: “(you and your ex husband) consistently agreed not to discuss the reasons why of it (divorce) with our family members. I do know my daughter has repeatedly pressed both of us for this information and we simply tell her it’s our personal relationship business we choose not to share-no fingers need pointed. She’s always disappointed with this answer.”

    Can you tell me why it is that you think it is none of your daughter’s business to know the reason of your divorce? Why is it a secret?



    Hi anita,
    It’s not a secret, it’s simply our personal relationship as married people.
    In the same way we would not share certain details of our marriage, such as love making, or perhaps a disagreement, with our children, we won’t be sharing these even more personal details with our children. We’ve always parented in a supportive, coaching role, not as our children’s “friends”; so there are topics we choose not to share with them to preserve those roles. The reasons leading to our divorce would cause discord, possibly judgment, and we don’t want the children compelled to choose sides. It’s the end of marriage, which is painful enough; not the end of being mom and dad.


    Dear Teen;

    But notice, you wrote that your divorce is not “the end of being mom and dad”- but for a year and a half, since your divorce, and since your daughter asked repeatedly for the reason for your divorce and was frustrated when you didn’t answer her, it HAS BEEN “the end of mom” in her life. Do you see this?

    I agree with not sharing intimate details with your children, minor or adults and of course, there are other details too personal. But it is important for your daughter to know- very important for her to know.

    She needs to know something, not everything, but something important- and you keeping that information from her is not seeing her real and valid need to understand something that is very important for her to understand. This is what, I believe, you didn’t see so far: her need to understand something that is IMPORTANT for her to understand.

    Something very important to her.

    Important enough for her to not have contact with you.

    What do you think?


    Hi Anita,
    yes, thank you for giving this more thought.
    Perhaps I didn’t give enough detail-or wrote in a misleading manner.
    We have discussed the divorce with her multiple times including what led to it, but have not divulged nitty gritty details of the who, where and why. She has plenty of information of what occurred. Any more information shared with her would border on overly intimate and vulgar details, so we are comfortable with what we’ve shared. She is clear on why the divorce occurred.
    I don’t know if the divorce is the real conflict or not. Around the same time, her husband graduated law school and she felt I was underdressed for the occasion and embarrassed her by not interacting with her in-laws enough. I also took up biking at that time and she informed me it was a rather pedestrian activity for me to be engaging in. I had made a voluntary career change a few years before that which involved a demotion in pay but a wonderful renewed interest in my work (social work). My daughter was initially supportive and excited to see my enthusiasm re-ignited, but later became critical of my choice in working so hard to achieve and then taking 2 steps “backwards” just because I was burnt out on my job. This year I bought a house of my own, which I’m proud of. She’s embarrassed, it’s in a working class neighborhood, and often comments she doesn’t tell her in-laws or her friends where I live. In the past 2-3 years, I’ve worked hard to get some medical problems under control and a happy side effect is I’m very trim and healthy-which I had not been before, and she makes snide remarks about how that’s the one good thing about being poor- you stay skinny cause you can’t afford to eat.

    So I don’t know- It could be the divorce, it could be a perceived social slight, loss in family social status– maybe she wants her PTA mom back, the one with the perfect hair & uptight manners. At this point, I’m saddened that our communication has devolved so greatly that she cannot share what it is that is wrong. Whatever our specific issues might be-we cannot get to them if I cannot get her to communicate with me.


    Hello TreenOfLane,
    I just read this in an excerpt from Shonda Rhimes’ new book: “sometimes the people who loved you when you were angry, dark and “twisty” don’t like to hang around when you lighten up”

    This is very true – when we change, we’re impacting the lives around us, even if we don’t mean to. But you’re right in pursuing what’s right for you, you’re right in reaching out to your daughter to reconnect, you’re right to wonder why she’s not giving you more information about “what you did”

    At this point though, if you feel like you’ve done everything in your power to reach out, it might not be a bad idea to give her some breathing room to figure herself out? I think the more you try to make it right, the more she might recede, just because she’s not ready.

    If you do want to give it one last concerted try before you throw the ball into her court, you could try writing a long old-fashioned letter explaining your end of the story, and what your heart’s desire is – to repair your relationship with your daughter, and then let her know that you’re open to her when she’s ready.

    This way you know you’ve done your best, and can go back to texting until she’s ready. Do you think this might work?


    Dear Treen:

    In your original post you wrote:” my ex husband and I have agreed our relationship is our personal business and we’ve consistently agreed not to discuss the reasons why of it with our family members.” In the last post you wrote: “We have discussed the divorce with her multiple times including what led to it.”

    The two statements are inconsistent. Why is that, I wonder. In the first is a very strong statement, very clear, “our relationship is our personal business” – you didn’t write parts of our relationship is personal. I don’t understand.

    But it is not my job to understand. In the last post you sound like a very reasonable person and your daughter, a materialistic superficial person. This is possible of course.

    But I am still caught in the first contradiction. I mean, it doesn’t sit well with me. Maybe you are very inexact in your communication with her… contradicting yourself? I don’t know.

    I don’t think I am helpful to you. I wish I was. I can’t get over the contradiction.


    hi anita,
    thank you for your insights on this, it has long hung heavy on my heart, so I value any different way of looking at this that I may have not considered.
    yes, perhaps that first post was written in haste, so my language choices were less than accurate. I could have clarified that of course, we’ve discussed the divorce with our children, simply not the nitty gritty details.
    My daughter has mentioned the divorce in passing, but seemingly with no more or less emphasis than her other general hints of dissatisfaction; so I’m trying to take a cue from her and let her (hopefully) lead our conversations to whatever topic she needs to.
    It was not particularly helpful to speculate on what the issue might be-she’s not ready to disclose, but I very much appreciated you taking time to consider my situation and pose some interesting questions and help clarify my statements.


    Hi Saiisha,
    thank you. Yes, I think my change in letting go of old ideas, which is how she’s known me the longest, and embracing a quieter, more accepting way of life, has been difficult for her. And, Yes, I do think you may be right-she may be receding at this point. Simply not ready. And I very much appreciate the idea to send her a personal letter to let her know how much I am open to talking, at any point, out of love for our relationship to heal and regrow.


    Dear Treen:

    In your original post you wrote: “perhaps something I need to look inside myself at and consider?”

    I would vote for that. Something you need to look inside yourself and re-consider. It will be uncomfortable to do so and easier (and ineffective) other ways may be tempting.

    If you somewhat agree with your own quote, and would like to further explore, do post again.



    Hi Treen,
    I think some of the suggestions by others were very good, particularly regarding non-disclosure about certain aspects of your divorce, to your daughter. However, there could be something else going on. Has it occurred to you that perhaps your ex-husband has not necessarily practised the non-disclosure as well as you have? Maybe he has disclosed certain things (or even made something up about you, or just put some extra colour on something) because clearly your daughter ‘knows’ what she’s annoyed about and is waiting for you to come forward and talk about this. However, as you say, you don’t know what it is. Obviously people divorce for a reason, and afterwards the two people go their separate ways. While its true you may be going down a more enjoyable path for yourself and your daughter doesn’t like it, this would seem a poor reason to become estranged from her Mother. It could be this of course – your daughter may only know one side of you – as a mother and wife, and now has to discover this other side to you, a side that she feels just ‘isn’t you’. Another obvious suggestion is the influence of your daughter’s new husband on her thoughts regarding you. Maybe she’s embarrassed, but maybe also jealous of you. I hope you work it out. Perhaps, since her new husband is so nice, you might be able to find out what’s wrong from him?


    I’m glad you’re finding some ways out of this situation Treen! When your intentions are right, I’m sure you’ll be able to turn things around – it may take time, but stay strong!

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