I love my grown daughter, but she won’t talk to me at all. I’m not sure why, but it has something to do with my divorce from her mother. My daughter and I were close once, but she seems bitter now, like her mother. The only way I know anything about her is from eavesdroping on her tweets. I’ve gotten conflicting opinions on the morality and value of this action. What do you think?
It’s wise of you to evaluate the task of following your adult daughter’s tweets. For my perspective, visualize this: You have your shoulder pressed against the slightly open front door of your daughter’s house. Behind that door, your daughter is pushing hard with her entire body, adrenaline pumping, hoping the chain lock will hold.
Get the picture? She wants you out.
You want to prove that it’s not her choice that matters, it’s your decision that holds weight. That’s not love. It’s being controlling—and a bit creepy. I do understand that you miss her a lot and long to be close. And, yes, I know that Twitter posts are open to the public. But tracking your adult daughter’s tweets when you know she doesn’t want you in her life will not repair your relationship. Instead, your behavior helps your daughter to justify slamming the door on you.
Stewing in disappointment, regret, dependency and blame for too long results in bitterness. It may be easy for you to recognize bitterness in your ex-wife or daughter, but can you see it in yourself? Instead of grieving your loss of intimacy, you secretly check tweets. Did similar passive-aggressive acts contribute to the end of your marriage or to this estrangement from your daughter? The answer to that question may be difficult to admit. Being truthful will widen your heart, a necessary step in your healing and the healing of your family. When you are ready to change, write your daughter a short letter (a one-sentence apology for tracking her tweets, plus one sentence telling her that you love her and one final sentence stating that you are available if she ever wants to talk). Send it, and then leave her alone.
I also suggest that you begin mentoring a young person in your profession. This new relationship is not a replacement for your daughter, and you must stay conscious to ensure that you don’t fall into that kind of an unhealthy pattern. But if done well, mentoring will divert your focus into productive behavior that ultimately benefits the greater community and you.
One of my girlfriends is best buddies with a married man. She insists they are friends, that his wife knows and that his wife doesn’t care. The problem is that my friend talks about this man like he’s her boyfriend. Everyone has noticed this and tried to talk to her. She is with this married guy all of the time, and she refuses to let anyone set her up with an available man. Why doesn’t she get that her boyfriend is married?
Trauma from an old relationship wound or the fear of being rejected can inspire people to seek emotional connections that don’t make sense. Your friend clearly feels safe being herself with a married man whose wife accepts the arrangement. And the relationship may actually be platonic, who knows? It may someday cross the line into a sexual affair or not. Who knows? In the meantime, continue to talk about the situation whenever the topic rolls around. When you do chat, be direct, truthful, compassionate and understanding. That way, if your friend ever needs guidance, she knows she can turn to you for an honest answer and to be steered away from causing suffering for herself or others.