Dear Dr. G.,

I read one article and your response to a single mother whose daughter rejected her at 18. My daughter rejected me at 13, lived life "her way" no matter what I did, what therapists said or even what juvenile courts ruled. At 21 she went to prison for five years for repeat DUI's and an accident in which a young man was injured. She's been out of prison for not quite four months now, is still on probation and at 26 still treats me as poorly and as "stupidly" as ever. Will we ever have a decent relationship? I've tried EVERYTHING over the years! I'm so tired of hurting over her! She gets angry at seemingly everything, criticizes me continually, rebukes me, speaks poorly of me to others, says she's embarrassed of me etc. I'm also a "drug addict," in her opinion, as I take prescribed pain medicine for spinal cord injuries from a car accident (after 10 back surgeries, dual TMJs, and shoulder and knee surgeries). Yet, she "admires" an aunt (who never sent a birthday card, nothing, until she was 22), because the aunt has "made it," "makes money," and is helping my daughter with her court fines, etc. I feel like I'm simply repeatedly bashing my head against a brick wall, and have the headache to prove it! I don't know what to do anymore.

A Frustrated Mother

Dear Mother,

I am so sorry about both the pain and the fear about your daughter's wellbeing that you have probably been experiencing for years. It is so sad and unfortunate that your daughter's life trajectory has been so difficult. It seems to me that your daughter has been angry since she was a young teenager. It is also likely that she has been self-medicating her painful feelings with alcohol for many years.

Without having met with you and your daughter and without being more aware of the history of the relationship I can nonetheless speculate about why your daughter is so angry with you. Consider the following possibilities:

1. She probably dislikes herself and those who dislike themselves often are angry with those closest to them.

2. Perhaps she has feelings toward her father that she is projecting on to you.

3. She must feel like a disappointment and it is often easier to be mad than sad.

4.Perhaps there are some aspects of her life that she has not shared with you and secrets breed anger.

AND

5. It is likely that there is some history of conflict and tension between the two of you that hasn't been resolved.

Now the question about what to do needs to be answered. My first suggestion is to get some emotional distance from your daughter. Sometimes "less is more". Her behavior toward you is so mean-spirited and rejecting that it must be extremely painful for you to endure. Give your daughter some space. This may seem odd to you but perhaps you can get develop a relationship with the admired aunt and have her suggest therapy for your daughter. It is clear that your daughter is hurting badly. At some point you may be able to join your daughter in therapy to do the hard work that helps to repair relationships. I wish you the best of luck. Please get back to me.

Dr. G.

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