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still not what I expected...

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
I have a pretty, smart, talented daughter who gets straight A's and gets nothing but excellent reports on her behavior at school. Teachers say she is a good person- that I've raised a good person. She's12- closing in on 13.

At home, and toward me, in general she is short, surly, eye-rolling, or indifferent. Always pushing to wear more makeup, lower necklines, shorter shorts. Normal, right? Yeah. But she doesn't love me. No matter how much I go out of my way- say yes to things (within reason) that other parents might not because it's inconvenient, pick up her friends, drop what I'm doing to chauffeur her around, no matter what I do, she isn't appreciative or even particularly nice to me.

I'm not exaggerating when I say she doesn't love me. I don't think she does. She absolutely refuses to say it. Refuses to hug me or let me hug her. The last time she hugged me or said she loved me, she was three years old. she wrote it in some cards after that, but it's not happening again anytime soon. When she leaves, she begrudgingly says 'bye''' back to me in a monotone without meeting my eyes, in response to my 'bye, love you!'. same thing at bedtime.

This isn't what I expected. it's been hard for a long time and it will be for a long time yet. I see my friend's kids hanging on them, saying they love them, and I'm so jealous - it feels like a rock in my chest. I know there isn't much to do about it. I just had to tell 'someone.' it hit me hard today and I got angry, yelled at her and came into my room and just cried. I have failed in some basic way and I don't think it's possible to fix it. I don't know what's wrong with either one of us.
post #2 of 30

First off, hugs to you. I'm sorry you are feeling this way. Parenting is tough. Had some low moments myself with my youngest who is newly 13 and in the throws of puberty and testosterone tantrums. Doesn't feel good at all. 

 

Have you considered some therapy for you both? While daughters can be pretty prickly at that age, if she truly hasn't hugged or said she loves you from age 3, you might look into the why. Perhaps a personality disorder? I know the words carry a lot of negative weight but psychopathy or sociopath come to mind (and seriously, I'm not talking future killer or anything like that at ALL!)  It's just a syndrome that makes understanding or expressing emotions beyond the scope of a person. Please don't take that comment as a diagnosis. Barring any trauma, what you describe is just sort of unusual (again, not unusual for the age but unusual to be going on since very early childhood.) A therapist might pick up on something... or at least find out why your daughter is so closed emotionally. It might give you some answers.... having a child that really can't express emotions is different from a child who can but won't.

 

If she's not being nice then start to say "no." It sounds like she doesn't respect you and so really, there is no reason to cart her around or drop everything you're doing to cater to her. That won't gain her affection... usually, it makes it worse. Bad attitudes don't go anywhere in our house!

post #3 of 30
Yea, it kind of sounds like rewarding bad behavior to me. I would start to put my foot down in saying no more often. You can't make her feel affection for you by giving in to her. Love should be unconditional between parents and children. Something I've learned through the trials and tribulations if marriage is that real love is not a *feeling* it is a choice, and it requires action. I'm sure your daughter loves you she just may not be good at showing it.
If I was in your shoes, I would try being real with her about it. Explain how u are feeling . Ask her what is causing her lack of affection . But be prepared for it to take multiple heart to hearts to really get to the bottom of it. Good luck!
post #4 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post
 

 

Have you considered some therapy for you both? While daughters can be pretty prickly at that age, if she truly hasn't hugged or said she loves you from age 3, you might look into the why.

 

 

I agree with this. 12 is a tough age for girls, but this isn't a new behavior. Something is off, and therapy is a GREAT option when we get to the end of what we know.

 

 

post #5 of 30
I also think therapy is a good idea. Young kids tend to be very affectionate so it is strange that she has gone so long without showing any. I think it would even be strange for a teen to never show affection to family, mood swings are normal but to never ever seem to care about family doesn't sound at all normal.
post #6 of 30

What are you doing to engage the mother daughter relationship? I know as moms that we are busy doing every day things for our children, helping them with homework, driving them to extra-curriculars, hosting sleep overs etc.... but getting personal and doing fun one on one stuff that creates that bond is what she will remember. My dd2 had a horrible teacher last year that ruined her confidence and self-esteem. Everyday she tells me in some way that she is no good and everyday I pick her up and say You are SPECIAL, you are KIND, you are SMART, you are my LOVE of my life and I would go to the ends of the world to make her believe it... And I give her examples of her portraying these attributes. I am her memory when she dwells on the negative. I pull out the positive by asking questions. So can you tell me what good things happened today at school?  instead of asking how was your day? ... because the answer will always be... fine!

 

Also counselors have told me on average parents only spend 2 minutes per day playing with their kids... Which is so sad but I can totally see it. Playing with kids increases that bond so much and it really reduces sibling rivalry. It really hits home the saying that "any attention is good attention" because the kids get attention for fighting. Your daughter is crying out for attention via dressing provocatively and giving attitude.

 

We are going on our second year of counseling. What I have learned through out this process is priceless. It has helped me heal from my childhood parental neglect and emotional abuse and to see how being connected to your child is SO important. If she does not find it at home she will definitely go outside the home to find it. I left home at 16 and moved in with a 22 year old. Lucky for me he was a great man and it was a far better situation for me to be in.

 

Take out pictures of your family and have them displayed all over the house. Pictures are great memory joggers. Have albums displayed on coffee tables that she could easily flip through. At her age she probably has lots of herself and her friends and they (her friends) have a good influence over her. But those pictures of family fun will remind her that you are there for her too.  

 

(((HUGS)))

post #7 of 30

I agree with most of the suggestions above. I did want to say, though, that my eldest has probably not hugged or said 'I love you' since she was 3 or 4. She's 19 now, and she's certainly not a psychopath or a sociopath. So to those of you who have affectionate, demonstrative kids it might seem pretty weird to imagine your family without that behaviour and style of interaction, but it doesn't necessarily indicate a lack of feelings. My dd is very introverted -- though no longer particularly shy -- and has had some social anxieties that have been most prevalent when it comes social niceties, especially when she knows the people she cares about are watching. So hugs and thank-yous and l-love-yous have always made her feel very vulnerable and have not been her way of expressing her feelings within the family. She does love everyone in our family very deeply though, and simply expresses that love in different ways ... with laughter, and intellectual banter, and choosing to spend time with us, calling home regularly, and speaking highly of us to others. All of which was in short supply when she was 12, but runs strong now. 

 

I do agree that counselling would be a good idea. If you are feeling vulnerable because you doubt her feelings for her, that makes your whole relationship much more at-risk, as you've obviously recognized. Some support and mediated open-ness would probably be very helpful.

 

Miranda

post #8 of 30

Miranda, I agree that extreme introversion can do this. The snapshot given just didn't sound like that sort of case. It's not only an absence of physical and verbal affection but also an absence in quality interactions period. You eldest may not say she loves you or hug you but in the times you've talked of her, it always seemed to be a tight bond, mutual respect and enthusiasm for the time spent together.

post #9 of 30
Aspergers may be something to look into. I think its more likely than psychopathy.
post #10 of 30

I was going to ask about autism too.  My mom hugged me once when I was about four.  I was shocked because she never did that before...and hasn't since.  She has autism and never knew it.  No one did.  She projected all of her preferences on me.  I wasn't allowed to sit on laps or be picked up by anyone.  I wasn't allowed to talk to strangers.  I wasn't allowed to not be shy.  I wasn't allowed to touch my mom or even talk to her most of the time. 

 

SilverWillow, does your daughter have relationships with others?  What is the quality of her relations to others?  Also have you heard of Love Languages?  People give and feel love by different methods (touch, talking, gifts, acts of service, etc.)  You have to find out your daughter's love currency to speak to her heart. 

post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by EarthRootsStarSoul View Post
 

SilverWillow, does your daughter have relationships with others?  What is the quality of her relations to others?  Also have you heard of Love Languages? 

 

Very good questions. I was going to mention Love Languages too.

 

Miranda

post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by EarthRootsStarSoul View Post
 

I was going to ask about autism too.  

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverWillow View Post

I have a pretty, smart, talented daughter who gets straight A's and gets nothing but excellent reports on her behavior at school. Teachers say she is a good person- that I've raised a good person. She's12- closing in on 13.

 

 

I don't think this sounds like autism at all.

 

I have a DD on the spectrum and I also work with special needs kids. Even high functioning kids on the spectrum tend to have significant challenges at school. Even though children with autism are far less affectionate that most children, they are warmer towards mom than towards other people, rather than being colder to mom than to other people. 

 

I think there is something off in the mother/daughter relationship. Because the DD isn't having problems in other relationships, this sounds like a mother/daughter relationship problem to me.

post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
 

 

 

 

I don't think this sounds like autism at all.

 

I have a DD on the spectrum and I also work with special needs kids. Even high functioning kids on the spectrum tend to have significant challenges at school. Even though children with autism are far less affectionate that most children, they are warmer towards mom than towards other people, rather than being colder to mom than to other people. 

 

I think there is something off in the mother/daughter relationship. Because the DD isn't having problems in other relationships, this sounds like a mother/daughter relationship problem to me.


I'm tending to agree, but the conversational path that can evolve from these questions can give clues to the situation.  Maybe I'm awkward at asking questions.  I used to tutor college writing and I learned how to ask provocative questions.  My intention is to get the writer deeper into the argument.  Some students thought that my questions meant that I wanted them to change their argument, that they were wrong.  But that couldn't be further from the truth; I just thought that they could make their argument better, deeper, more thorough if they considered opposing viewpoints. 


Edited by EarthRootsStarSoul - 12/27/13 at 7:18am
post #14 of 30

How is her relationship with other relatives? I don't know your situation. Is Dad around? If so, how is she with him? Does she have any siblings? Does she say she loves anyone else? Answers to these questions would paint a fuller picture. If she doesn't say it to anyone else it sounds like it's maybe not just about you, but about her in general. If she does say it freely to many other people then maybe it's just something about how she feels about the mother-daughter relationship. 

 

I'm sorry you're feeling crummy about this. You sound like a great mom. It may be something she just goes through. While my kids didn't do this, for a long time they didn't tell each other that they loved each other, but now at 12 and 10 they have started to w/in the last year or two. It may be something that your dd grows back into saying. 

 

(((hugs)))

post #15 of 30

This is kind of just a stab in the dark, as I don't actually know you or your DD:

 

Is she really, REALLY gifted intellectually?  Perhaps you have always treated her as her biological age not her mental age.  You saw your sweet little baby three year old, but maybe she was already six, seven, eight years old mentally.  So if she is sitting there being mentally an eight year old and you are treating her like she's three, that would definitely get under her skin in a bad way.  I'm thinking this is definitely a mother/daughter relationship thing.  Please don't feel bad, this has all been subconscious on your part (and hers).  There is something that your DD wants you to recognize  in her, and you have failed to see it over and over.  It's been subconscious and accidental.  Fixing this and seeing your DD for who she actually is, is going to be extremely uncomfortable for you.  That's why you haven't done it yet. 

 

Exceptional giftedness is a special need, almost just like a disability.  Smart people are often shamed for being smarter than other people, because it makes other people feel bad.  There is a social pressure in favor of equality, but when you are not equal and know it, you have to find some way to cope.  Your DD probably figured out early on that she was smarter than you, and therefore, you can't help her.  You must recognize that she is smarter than you, and you are not entitled to take credit for it.  Ouch, I know that hurts, it hurts just writing it, and I'm sorry.  That's why people avoid the truth, because it's painful. 

 

Perhaps a full IQ test with a psychologist is in order, to get a real picture of her mental age and abilities. 

post #16 of 30

The colder she is, the harder you work.  As long as you are willing to work for her approval, she is going to withhold it.

post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post
 

The colder she is, the harder you work.  As long as you are willing to work for her approval, she is going to withhold it.

I agree with this one.

 

It sounds to me like OP is trying to woo her daughter, bending over backwards to get a 12-year-old kid to deign to give her approval. Instead, it may be better to act robustly, insist on at least the forms of politeness (Good morning, good night, please, thank you, etc.) and  stop doing extras unless she shows a change of attitude.

 

I read in a book by Wendy Mogel that all kids are entitled to good healthful food, clothes appropriate to the weather, and as good an education as circumstances allow. Everything else is "gravy": kids are not *entitled* to things like unquestioning and on-call chauffeur services. Let her know how displeased you are with how things are going, and the way she does not even bother to be polite, let alone affectionate. Explain that unless she starts to be more polite & appreciatve, the extras will be at an end; that no relationship can prosper when it's all "give" on one side, and all "take" on the other.

 

This does not mean she must hug and kiss you if she does not want to, but a  real "Please, mama" and a heartfelt "Thanks, mama, for going out of your way to do me a favor" would be a good way forward.

post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by skreader View Post
 

I read in a book by Wendy Mogel that all kids are entitled to good healthful food, clothes appropriate to the weather, and as good an education as circumstances allow. Everything else is "gravy": kids are not *entitled* to things like unquestioning and on-call chauffeur services. 

 

I don't think it's nearly that black and white. Kids are also entitled to love. And to the expression of that love through words and deeds. Which makes it all much greyer than Wendy Mogel suggests. I think they're also entitled to respect. And emotional security. Which cast yet more grey shades on the mother-daughter relationship.

 

I do agree with you skreader, that there is danger in acting certain ways to try to win a child's approval. And that's why I think that counselling and some learning about Love Languages might be helpful. I think it's important for parents to avoid using love and affection as a sort of currency to reward and reinforce desirable behaviour and affection from their children. Love and affection should be something more fundamental than a mere relationship currency. I think there's a risk of starting a dangerous game of 'tit for tat,' whereby the daughter's unwillingness to display affection is repaid by withdrawal of affection by the parent. I don't think there's any likelihood that the daughter will react to that with a sudden sense of appreciation and a desire to express gratitude and affection. Things are much more likely to go the other way. These are complex issues, especially when they become a source of emotional stress and anxiety for the parent, which it sounds like is the case for the OP. 

 

Miranda

post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post
 

The colder she is, the harder you work.  As long as you are willing to work for her approval, she is going to withhold it.

Only if she's a psychopath.  Normal people don't do that.

post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post

The colder she is, the harder you work.  As long as you are willing to work for her approval, she is going to withhold it.

I think to some extent this can be true. We teach others how to treat us and if withholding politeness and affection is how she gets what she wants then it makes some sense that it would just continue to escalate. This is a pattern you see in abusive marriages, eventually and it does sometimes get to the point where you can't remember feeling happy or appreciated in the relationship. I don't think it is a deliberate thing on the child's part or the mother's but there is a lack of respect for the mother from both of them and that relationship dynamic needs to be addressed.

Breaking out of the wooing cycle is a good first step but it sounds like there are deeper problems with the relationship that require counseling, perhaps as a family and individually. This kind of relationship dynamic is one that the child will most likely carry with her to serious relationships in the future if she doesn't have support identifying what is going it and how to develop healthy relationships.
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