Reply To: I asked my daughter on Thanksgiving why she didn’t tell me she’s no longer vegan

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That kind of daughter
December 3, 2023 at 11:36 am #1126919

I was like your daughter. I was exactly who my mother wanted me to be. I was seemingly very close with her. But the truth was, that through emotional control, I wasn’t allowed to develop my own identity.

Growing distant from your parents is normal in the teen years. There’s a reason for the silent treatments and slammed doors. It allows the teen to develop their own identity. When it doesn’t happen, that is concerning.

In my case, it couldn’t happen until I was out of her house and on my own. It wasn’t safe for me to do anything but exactly what she wanted. And even then, it took a lot of therapy and I still don’t have my own full identity. I fight against codependency all the time- and the depression and anxiety that goes with it.

I have been no contact with my mother for over a decade. I first tried to set boundaries, but she would see them as a threat to our relationship and not respect them. Eventually everything got to a head and I had to cut off all contact.

I understand you aren’t trying to do this. I understand that you want a good relationship with her, but you are insisting this relationship be “good” based on what that looks like to you.

If its not too late, the thing you could do is to apologize if you have overstepped about the veganism and the books. Tell her you are proud of her for navigating her independence this year, and tell her you are still learning how to have an adult daughter. Tell her you are learning that her adult choices aren’t your business, and learning that she only needs to tell you what she wants on her terms. Tell her that is an adjustment for you, but you want to do better. Tell her you love her and are proud of her.

Then do the work (therapy, whatever you need) to really be ok with having a grown child and your new role. If you are lucky, she will want to be a little closer with you, but remember – she’s a busy adult! I often go weeks without a phone call from my best friend who lives across the country from me. We love each other dearly, but we are both very busy with our own lives. So even if you are emotionally closer, you still may not hear from her as often as you want.

Being close with family isn’t just about how often you call or text. It’s more about feeling safe and comfortable with each other. It’s about sharing things because you want to and not because they feel they are owed “transparency”. Try to be the people she wants to share things with. Because you understand and respect her values, even when they are different from yours. (My best friend and I have different religions, but when we advise each other, we keep that in mind.) And because you are happy for what makes her happy, not what makes you happy. You are allowed to be disappointed with her choices- your feelings are your own and are valid! But it is when you place that disappointment on her that you hurt your relationship.

I think being a parent is hard- even more so as they are an adult in some ways. You have this new role that is very unique. You have to respect them as an individual. If you are lucky, you will be their confidant, but you have to keep a respectful distance of an equal. At the same time, you were still the person who ran their life for their first 2 decades, so you have to be careful not to give unsolicited advice, or to lean on them in inappropriate ways.

But I have also seen it done beautifully and I hope you can reach that new place with your daughter.