Mending a Broken Relationship with an Adult Daughter

My daughter drinks heavily, says she's bipolar, and is in a second marriage that's going sour. She left her first husband and kids for another man 12 years older who treats her like a child. Every couple of months she leaves him to come to my house putting her job in jeopardy.


Last time that happened she quit the job right before Christmas. She asked my son for money to pay her child support. When things don't go her way she has a temper fit, calls me a bitch, and throws things. Last time this happened she overheard a conversation in which I confided to a close friend. I had some very harsh words describing my daughter.

I know she's bipolar, but she's spoiled. Since this happened and I've cut off the money and gifts she says she wants nothing more to do with me. I haven't talked to her in 3 months, but she texted me last week saying "I've left him, and am sleeping outside from now on, don't call or text because I don't need your abuse." She said she had no one and no place to go.

In the conversation I had with the friend, I called her lazy and said that she expects a man to take care of her. I don't think she'll forgive me especially since I've made it clear she can't keep leaving her husband and coming to me. Plus I'll no longer bail her out with money.

The relationship she has with her father, my former husband and her brother are no better and she says that's my fault. This makes me sad, as I love her, but I'm too old to deal with her problems. She sees a psychologist and takes meds, but nothing seems to help and she just blames me for the mess she's made of her life. Do I take her at her word and not call her? How could I apologize for something I said about her to a friend when I believe everything I feel and said is true.


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March 20, 20181 found this helpful
Best Answer

First thing I would say is her little passive aggressive text ("I've left him, and am sleeping outside from now on, don't call or text because I don't need your abuse." ) is a clear emotional manipulation tactic. She clearly needs your help and is too proud because of the other thing that happened or she's afraid you were serious about your conditions for helping her in the future, so she is trying to pull on your maternal heartstrings to get you to do what she wants and still avoid all responsibility for her life.

The thing to do is call her bluff and just ignore her (as she seems to say she wants) or offer to help put her in a shelter and commit to the message of "you can only come back if you're more willing to be better"


Whether bipolar or not, she sounds to me more like someone with Borderline Personality Disorder, which in a nutshell is someone with deep developmental and interpersonal disabilities. They are always living in terror of being abandoned while at the same time always being really incapable of connecting with others. They idealize and then devalue people. THey act incredibly selfishly, impulsively, and immaturely, are often threatening or causing self-harm, and their emotions are practically impossible to regulate. And alcoholism and drug addiction are basically co morbid with BPD.

Bipolar disorder is actually preferable because it can be moderated with a pill, not so BPD. Even most therapists are leery of treating these folks, in no small part because they seldom think they need help changing and are so good at manipulating therapists. Still, there are some things like Dialectical Behavioural Therapy or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that greatly helps these ppl when they feel they need help - or when someone like you gives them an ultimatum of 'get help or else'. With someone like her even if she was not diagnosed BPD I would encourage her seek one of those types of therapies over traditional therapy.


If I were you I would try to find out as much as possible re bipolar disorder, alcoholism, and as I recommend, BPD and that way you can understand why she does the things she does

Lastly, please try to not feel bad that you got caught out talking about her. 99.9% of people on earth talk about others, it's not something egregious or new to you (and certainly she's given you cause) and, if nothing else, just think of all the really actually distorted unfair unwarranted bad stuff she's said about you to everyone willing to listen (I guarantee you it's lots) if nothing else.

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March 19, 20180 found this helpful

Your daughter has alcohol problems in addition to mental problems. You are right in setting boundaries with her. I would tell her how much you love her and want her to have a satisfying life.


I think the alcohol issue must be addressed. If she is on medication she should not be drinking. Someone should inform the doctor. Hopefully you can convince her to get treatment.

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March 19, 20180 found this helpful

Even though she overheard you speaking to a close friend, you were just stating the truth. You love your child unconditional but, this matter is too big for you to resolve on your own. She's a grown adult, and needs to accept that. She needs to seek medical attention and perhaps one step is accepting it, and maybe even go to rehab. She should not be drinking like that and she has children to care for in addition to working, being a wife (if that is still on the table).

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March 20, 20180 found this helpful

She left the kids with her x husband several years ago for another man. The youngest is 17 and she's supposed to pay hild support. She asked her brother for money to pay that right after she quit her job and he said no. Thats what caused her latest outburst when I told her, her brother isn't responsible for that.


After that she said she wanted to never see be again and she'd never help take care of me if I ever needed her. I'm in my 77ies. Said don't call or text because I'm abusive.

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March 19, 20180 found this helpful

Love your daughter, but please do not allow yourself to feel guilty. As an adult she must face the consequences of her actions and behavior. I'm very sorry that she has chosen this life that she has, but you are in your right to make boundaries and refuse to accept the abuse it sounds like she is throwing at you. If she really wants help from you, make it clear what she must do (go to rehab, seek treatment for her mental health, etc.) and then after she completes the treatment, go from there one step at a time. But whatever you do go carefully & do not allow her to use and abuse yourself and the rest of your family just because you feel bad about your relationship or feel sorry for her situation or whatever. She needs to be willing to except the help she really needs which is probably not the help or treatment she thinks she wants. It's called "tough love". You as her mother will not be doing her or yourself a favor to continue in the methods of the past.

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March 20, 20180 found this helpful

In my book this is a situation of tough love as I would call it. You are her mom and she does need your help. You feel strongly about how she is and how she has treated you. If you do decide to help out there has to be some really strong ground rules set in place.

I wouldn't allow her back in if she continues to drink number one. She has got to stop drinking and start to take her MEDs and see the doctor. She needs to work, pay her part of the expenses in your home, and control her behavior. Don't give in, no matter what, when she cries for money. The first time she does this, she is out.

You have to make the rules hard, strict, and make sure you stick to them and make sure she understand them. You can't have her living on the road and sleeping outside. If she is really doing this it isn't even sure. I'd check on this first to make sure she is not trying to manipulate you again. If it is true, then meet her in a coffee shop to talk with her. Write up your conditions and hand them to her. If she can agree to your condition, then you can let her back in. Otherwise, like I said tough love, you'll have to leave her on her own and let her figure this one out. She will come around if she is desperate enough.

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March 23, 20180 found this helpful

I agree with all of the good advise given here. I want to add that there is absolutely nothing we can do to control our adult kids. You really do have to just give up and let her make the decision for her life. If she comes to you apologetic, and admits she is the one with the problem not you, and tearfully asks you for help and agrees to accept your terms for that help, then of course, you do all you can. Otherwise, I like what someone else here said, call her bluff and ignore her. She has said she doesn't want you involved in her life, so don't be involved until she admits it is all her responsibility to seek your help.

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