Strained relationship with adult daughter


Strained relationship with adult daughter


your avatar   Ann, 66-year-old woman

I am a retired driving instructor. I have been married for 36 years to my second husband (my first marriage lasted 5 years). I have one daughter aged 43, one granddaughter, and one grandson. Both my parents have died. I have one younger brother living and one younger brother who died at the age of 45. I am also a post-transplant kidney patient. My new kidney was given to me by my daughter. Even though I was compatible with my brother, the doctors' choice was my daughter.

My question arises in the wake of my daughter failing her first attempt of her final part to qualify as a driving instructor. She believes I have been talking about her to the rest of the family, said some very hurtful things on the telephone, and then slammed the phone down. I left it a few days and then called her today. At first she seemed OK, a bit distant. As the conversation progressed, she told me that I had always talked about her even when she was a child (because she listened at the door one day while I was talking to my parents). She told me that I never did any activities with her, except gymnastics and swimming, and since marrying her dad (my husband adopted her) I made him do everything with her, right up to present day.

I have always done the best I could for her. These days I have very bad arthritis and I am unable to walk any distances. What can I say or do to try and resolve this situation? Thank you.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Ann,

Such radically different memories within families are very common. I have them in my family too, and yet we have developed a mutually loving relationship. Both parties continue to "remember" what they honestly believe to be the truth, although they cannot both be true.

Instead of trying to convince the other person of being wrong, what is needed is mutual forgiveness. There is a wonderful Buddhist prayer:

"I ask for forgiveness from every person I have harmed, accidentally or on purpose, knowingly or unknowingly. I offer forgiveness from every person who has harmed me, accidentally or on purpose, knowingly or unknowingly."

Please send your question and my answer to your daughter, and ask that both of you should do this, from the heart, honestly doing your best to make it succeed.

Life is too short for the seriousness it deserves. You may both live for a long time yet. That time should be spent in friendship. Either of you could die tomorrow. The survivor should be able to live without feelings of guilt for having hurt the other.

Good luck, and let me know the outcome,


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:


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