I am the mother of four children—three girls and my son is the youngest. Our son has gotten into some domestic trouble with an on/off girlfriend. One time, our youngest daughter tried to kick his girlfriend out of our home when he and his girlfriend wouldn’t comply with our wishes and leave our home. My daughter and son got arrested after I and his girlfriend called the police because the argument became physical and out of hand.
After this incident, for that daughter’s engagement last September, I threw a special surprise engagement party for them with both sides of the family at a country club in February. Less than two weeks after that party, this daughter heard my son in the background of our phone conversation (as he was at my home) and became unhinged and said she was ending our relationship.
A young woman seen arguing with an older woman while sitting on a sofa.
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She said I never protected her and that she resents me and asked me not to contact her anymore. I tried to tell her I never expected her to be in the same room with my son or talk to him.
A few weeks ago, she asked her two sisters to go wedding dress shopping with her and “a few other people,” noting she “doesn’t expect mom to be there”. I can’t believe she would actually go to this extent. She lived with us until she was 26 and we supported her through pharmacy school. I guess she doesn’t need us anymore.
Listen and Acknowledge Each Others Feelings
Wendy Oneill is a clinical psychologist based in London, U.K., who works with individuals and families with emotional difficulties.
I am sorry to hear about the conflict you are having with your daughter. I imagine it feels particularly painful and hurtful in light of the planning and preparation that may be taking place regarding her wedding and the suggestion that you may not be present at the upcoming wedding dress shopping.
Your daughter appears to be hurting, and I wonder if she is feeling betrayed and surprised by hearing her brother’s voice in the background. I expect your daughter feels the rupture in her relationship with her brother was a result of her trying to protect you and your husband in your home. Perhaps she feels that you and your son’s relationship has now been repaired and she is left holding onto the incident with her brother on her own, which may have contributed to her feeling angry and expressing this to you when she heard his voice.
Planning a wedding is a very exciting time in a person’s life and I noticed the tentative language that your daughter used in the text surrounding your absence. It makes me think there may be an opening for repairing your relationship and maybe she does not think you would like to be there with her.
It sounds to me that sitting down and listening to each other and acknowledging her feelings may heal this argument. If this feels too difficult to do at the moment, could you write her a letter and explain what has happened and acknowledge how she may be feeling?
It might also be helpful to have someone neutral mediate a conversation with you both together.
Wishing you well.
Explore the Root Causes of the Family Dynamics
Verele Anne Vorstman, a psychotherapist based in London, U.K. with experience in family conflict and a range of other issues.
You seem to find yourself in a hurtful situation for both yourself and your family. You don’t feel appreciated, you are not supported, and now you’re even excluded. It appears like there’s a role confusion and what’s lacking is a healthy way of dealing with conflict in your family. Exclusion and physical fights are immature ways to cope that make things escalate. You may find it interesting to read up on “the drama triangle.”
There are two sides to the situation: a skills approach and a healing side. In my opinion, both need attention to achieve a more profound resolution.
On the skills side, it’s vital that parents are on the same page regarding their children. Else, the children get too much power and this has happened. Your daughter is in charge—she divides, demands, and decides.
Another essential aspect is for the parents to step up and facilitate healthy ways of dealing with conflict. These involve compassionate listening to everybody and collaboration towards a solution that is good for everyone. Strictly no interrupting, no shouting, no physical approach, no stonewalling, no debasing. The “non violent communication” approach can be helpful here. This needs a lot of practice and in your case I would strongly suggest professional guidance to keep boundaries clear.
In terms of healing, family members often unconsciously repeat dysfunctional patterns of their ancestors. These can be resolved by applying the family constellation therapeutic method, which uproots the cause of the dynamics and makes behavior change much more effortless. It involves asking your several questions—Why did this pattern emerge in the first place? Why are there weak boundaries and power struggles in the family? Why are compassion, collaboration and connection missing? What made you disconnect from your female wisdom and power?
Usually, there’s an old trauma where this all started and being unresolved, it got passed down over generations. You can make it stop by energetically releasing what’s not yours, reconnecting to resources and healing what is yours. You can, as a mother, do a family constellation by yourself and release your offspring. It is powerful, efficient, deep, compassionate and much quicker than talking therapy in cases like this. I hope this helps.
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