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Family: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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Hell to the no. You wouldn’t be facilitating a family birthday party; you’d be facilitating a birthday present and money grab. If your daughter wants some outpouring of physical tokens of affection from her family, then she needs to act as if she actually cares about that family. This is a prime opportunity for her to see that if she ignores her family on a consistent basis, they are perfectly free to ignore her in return. As others have said, everyone has contact information and can send a card or gift if they want to. OTOH, if you were to organize a family party, then the invitees might feel obligated to bring a gift, when your daughter has essentially blown them off for a while now. Personally, I might be tempted to set up as if for a party, let your daughter show up anticipating presents, and then tell her nobody wanted to come, but that’s just me imagining a harsh reality check. 

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Thank you all for saying what I think I needed to hear/read.  It's been very difficult for me this year to turn off my considerable (raging!) maternal instincts and allow her to reap what she has sown.  Every time I feel like I'm "teaching her a lesson," I am swiftly reminded of the extremely low position I hold in her life.  If I don't contact her, she doesn't contact me unless it's to ask for something.  I have been neutralized and discarded as a mother and human being in every possible way.  She does whatever she wants at her father's.  The only reason I've kept her on my cell phone plan (she resentfully pays her portion) is so that I'll be able to track her location when the bottom falls out during one of these drug-fueled evenings of hers.  Her father is not tech-savvy, but I am, so someone needs to know what the hell is going on.  The only downside is that it's hard to stop myself from looking at the cell phone usage a couple of times a week and see that she responds to her father immediately with dozens of daily texts and pictures while my messages sit there unanswered for 48 hours at a time.  It's hurtful and I'm tired of pretending that it's not.  I'm very, very tired of pretending that everything is and will be okay because she's young and immature.

So, down to business: My brother and I decided to have a very simple dinner out somewhere for her and give modest gifts (think Uber gift cards all around) rather than having a full-scale shindig at the house with all the trimmings.  I'll announce the date and anyone who wants to come is free to come.  If she tells me at the last minute that she can't make it on that date because she has plans to take drugs with an Instagram friend of hers (a distinct possibility), so be it; my brother and I will still go out to dinner with the kids and have a lovely time.  We want to attempt to show her some grace and force her to face her family members (especially her little cousins who idolized her, two of whom are so young that they hardly remember her now).  I know now that the restaurant won't be good enough for her, it won't be vegan enough for her, and the very simple gifts she receives won't be nice enough for her.  I know that I'll see on the cell phone records after the dinner that she texted with her father and friends all throughout the evening.  I know that she'll want to be taken back to her father's immediately following the dinner instead of going back to my house for some one-on-one mother-daughter time, as anyone else would.  I know these things, but we're going to do it anyway so that we can say that we weren't the ones to "forsake" her.  I'm sick of doing penance for the crimes I committed: attempting to teach her some morals and a basic sense of responsibility.

Thanks for listening and sympathizing, everyone.  I gain value from every single post and I'm always open to your thoughts.  I'm just feeling my way along here; I have no clue what to do, if anything.

Edited by Suzy Rhapsody
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43 minutes ago, Suzy Rhapsody said:

Every time I feel like I'm "teaching her a lesson," I am swiftly reminded of the extremely low position I hold in her life.  If I don't contact her, she doesn't contact me unless it's to ask for something.  I have been neutralized and discarded as a mother and human being in every possible way. 

Have you considered seeing a therapist to help you sort out what is going on and your [completely understandable] feelings? 

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11 minutes ago, theredhead77 said:

Have you considered seeing a therapist to help you sort out what is going on and your [completely understandable] feelings? 

I do see one (and have tried several others), but nothing seems to “get through,” if that makes sense.  I take medication for depression, but all that does is blunt/dull the emotions.  This dynamic with her father has been in place her entire life.  It will come as no surprise that he was abusive on every level you can think of during our brief marriage.  If you’re young and naive, he’s able to manipulate you.  He’s done a fine job with my daughter.  

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