My daughter just asked me to accompany her in family therapy. Uh oh.

Photo of author


Slate Plus members get more Care and feeding weekly. Do you have any questions about children, parenting or family life? Send it here!

Dear care and feeding,

My husband and I had our daughter when she was a baby, mainly due to religious pressure from his side of the family. I felt like I never had that doting bond that parents talk about: I was diligent with her physical needs, tried to help her do fun things she enjoyed (hobbies, sports, special classes), and I wasn’t a screaming or emotionally mean parent. . But I always felt like she was faking more than vague warmth. I didn’t have a mother growing up, so I also didn’t know what she was supposed to be. She definitely wasn’t the best, but I tried to attract other women who could help me fill the shoes that I couldn’t: my husband’s sisters, his school friends’ mothers, a godmother, and encourage them to be close. . Still, I was relieved when she started her career and lived independently because I was able to stop trying so hard. Things have been much easier since then and she seems to have done well. She and her husband are now expecting a baby and she asked me to accompany her to family therapy because, in her words, “pregnancy generates a lot of feelings.”

I don’t know if I should go or not: I’ve never told her how I feel and it seems cruel and useless to let that come up in therapy, but also, she never asks me for anything as an adult. I don’t want her to suffer, I just don’t think this is going to help. What should I do here?

—Future grandmother

Dear future grandmother,

Of course, I can’t know for sure what feelings the pregnancy has awakened in your daughter, but I have to imagine that she asks you to come with her to family therapy because she feels something is wrong or missing, and she wants things to get better. be better among you? Making things better, even if it’s mainly for her, or so you can be a part of your grandchild’s life, seems like enough of a reason to go.

You don’t really say what your daughter means to you, or whether you want to have a close, loving relationship with her and your future grandchild. But let’s assume that you really love and care for your child and her future grandchild, even if you feel like you’re not the best at showing it. In that case, you could go to family therapy with an open mind and try to participate in the hopes that you and your daughter will end up having a better and/or closer relationship. I understand that you have reservations about what you might say, and I certainly wouldn’t plan on telling her that you feel like you’re faking your affection for her (although I think there’s a big difference between that and feeling like being a parent doesn’t come naturally to you). It might make sense for you to attend the sessions and be prepared to listen and think primarily about what she tells you at first, rather than telling you everything about her own parenting decisions.

I am sure that family therapy can be of great help. But I also believe that you will get nowhere if only one person puts in the effort. If the relationship with your daughter is not of great importance to you (I’m not trying to make assumptions or sound harsh, but you mentioned that you don’t want to “try so hard”!), I think it’s a shame, but I doubt that family therapy would do help in that case. Still, if I were you, I would want to go and do everything I can to try to ease my son’s pain and strengthen our relationship.


More whiteboard tips

My wife and I divorced when my daughter was 6 and I was 43. I love my daughter to death, I marveled at her growing up, I enjoyed her love and I returned the same. I still love her very much, but something is wrong in our relationship. He has no problem ignoring my texts, much less my calls. It hurts me a lot when she rejects me.
She’ll say, “I never answer anyone’s texts,” but Respond immediately to anyone’s text messages during those rare times when we are together.

Leave a comment