A few weeks ago I was approached by a mum who was wanting to ask the American courts to see and talk to her teenage daughters more often. They did not live close to her and were living with their uncle and aunt. It was a complex situation and because it went slightly beyond the remit/ability of a question corner and I wanted to make sure that she was really up for change (I often get approached by people who are desperate, but stuck and how ever much you assistance you offer, they are so stuck in being victims, they won’t do anything, they just want someone to come and wave a magic wand. It’s not wrong to be like that, but I don’t haves time to write a blog post in those cases). So I asked her to do some coaching exercises first, but although she may have started, she didn’t complete them.
Yesterday she wrote that she had heard from one of her daughters that they no longer want to see or talk to her.
First let me say that you must be feeling terrible. However, I’m here to help, not sympathise, so here we go.
For your daughters to say this they must be pissed off and hurt. That can change. However, you MUST focus on the long game, and basically as hard as it is suck it up and deal with it over the short term. I warn you now, if you push now and for the next couple of years, you will do yourself and your relationship with your daughter’s harm . Whereas do it right and you can regain a relationship with your daughters in the future.
In my past we called my mum the wicked witch of the west, and there was a time when I felt terribly betrayed by her, and just the thought of seeing her gave me a migraine. We had 10 very difficult years, but after me doing some serious work on it, we did get close again, and I know she died feeling loved. So I have personal experience of the other side of the story, and can definitely offer you hope. But I know plenty of people who don’t get back with their parents, so don’t take it for granted, you will have to do some work on it as you can’t count on them sorting themselves out as I did.
Guilt doesn’t help anything. However, I do think that it is important to take responsibility for our part in situations. So ask yourself honestly, and ask the people around you. Why are the girls so hurt? Do they trust you? If not why not? Is there a reason why you might have to prove yourself to them? How much are you willing to do to prove your love for them? How much or who are you willing to give up? How much of your own baggage and emotional crap are you willing to face and deal with?
So what to do?
- Politely and shortly let them know that you will do as they request. But that you do need something in return; maybe that they or their uncle/aunt give you fortnightly updates on how they are.
- Potentially say something like ‘I understand that for you to not want to see me I must have hurt you terribly, so for now I will do as you ask, and I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you’.
- Do NOT add a defense or explanation of why you did whatever it is they didn’t like e.g. ‘but … Blah, blah, there is a reasonable explanation blah blah’.
- Make sure you don’t give up your legal rights.
- Still make sure that you send cards for any birthdays etc coming up soon.
- It is likely that they are getting biased, if well meaning advise from other people. Don’t worry about this and keep your focus on the long game.
- Remember that they are teenagers. Basically their brains aren’t wired up right at the moment, and even a slightly difficult situation is massive for them. Be realistic in what you can expect in terms of wiseness and understanding from them at their current age.
- Do NOT get into the blame game and start trying to show them that other people in the situation have also done things ‘wrong’.
- Focus on sorting yourself out simply first by following the ideas in my book (luckily this mum is a beta tester for my new book which currently has a working title of ‘six weeks to a sparkling you’). So that’s what you are going to do for the next 6 weeks. When you get chapter 6 you will get another years worth of stuff to do!
- I will give your twin sister the beta copy of my book too, so that she can help you focus.
- After the 6 weeks, start looking honestly at how this situation got created.
- Create a plan of action of how you can show that you are a mentally and emotionally healthy mum, who has dealt with her baggage, and empowered herself. So that your daughters don’t have to listen to words, but can see factual proof of changes and that they can now trust having you close to them again.
Keep in touch xx