58° Good Afternoon
58° Good Afternoon

How to mend fences with adult daughter

DEAR AMY: The last time I spoke to my adult daughter was five years ago. I hosted a first birthday party for her son and she severed ties with me after a petty argument. She has since given birth to more children. I've sent cards and gifts in hopes of reconciling, but the only response I received was through secondary sources. I feel I had every right to be angry that day long ago. Both she and her husband were upset over my choice of party decorations. Post-fight, it came out that she felt unsupported during my marriage to my abusive ex-husband. And although I divorced him many years ago, it was evidently still acutely painful for her. I wish I knew she hated me prior to my giving her a new car, purchasing all the necessary items for a new baby and paying their rent. While I respect that she's moved on, I've yet to heal from the turmoil of a loving parent-child relationship gone wrong. I've given up, and yet I have no closure. Am I wrong for feeling that way?

-- Wronged Mother

DEAR MOTHER: You've restated your original gripes against your daughter, along with asking if you are "wrong" for feeling the way you feel. Your feelings are your feelings. They are neither wrong nor right.

I can't help but wonder, however, about your daughter's feelings. In the midst of all the detail you supply, you mention your marriage to an abusive ex-husband. Is it possible that this estrangement is based on your daughter's anger over your inability to protect her from an abusive situation? Is she "wrong" to feel the way she feels? This is painful for you, but as long as you review your petty conflict and keep score (while ignoring the big stuff), you will never find closure.

Take responsibility for your choices. Apologize for your own mistakes -- even if they are ancient. Offer your daughter help through a mediator or counselor to promote her own healing. Making this effort will enable closure for you, even if your overtures are rejected.


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