Ask Grandma Anything: Healing Her Relationship With Her Adult Daughter

Dear Cutie,

I have a strained relationship with my daughter, whom I adore. I also have a younger son. My relationship with my own mother was not easy. I had a younger sister with health problems, who got on with my mother better. After giving birth to my daughter, I developed depression.

My daughter is now 33, and despite my loving efforts, she is critical with me and makes cutting remarks. Three years ago she had an affair and confided in me, and we got closer. But then my husband wanted me to move away to another country. I had a breakdown. My husband didn’t seem to register that seven close friends and relatives had died around that time, and that my daughter needed me.

In the aftermath of these changes, my daughter retreated and returned to her acid remarks. She seems now closer to her father, which is painful for me. Please can you help tell me how to restore this relationship?


Dear Suffering,

I know it feels terrible, but I think that your problems are simpler than they seem. Your daughter’s feelings were hurt again, but I expect that that was no surprise to you. All you can do is let her know that you value your relationship with her and that you are there for her when she needs an ear. Perhaps she will want to confide in you again. You cannot force it. Look after yourself and love the people in your life when and how they allow you to love them.

I learned from my own relationship with my daughter that if I wanted us to get along, sometimes I just had to hold my tongue. Children are always your children and you can always be the grown-up and help to smooth things along.

Figure out what it is that pushes your daughter’s buttons — ask her if you have to, but I suspect you know the answers — and stop pushing them. It will be worth it. But always remember that it takes two to get along, so as long as you do your best, you should not feel bad if your best isn’t good enough to fix a problem shared by two.


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