Strained relationship with our daughter

Our relationship with our daughter has been hostile for a decade now. Though the three of us are living together, my daughter has been avoiding contact and communication with my wife.  Because of the strained relationship, my wife has ever considered evicting her. She believed getting her out of her sight altogether was the only way to deal with the stress of maintaining a fractured relationship. Adding to the problem is that my wife suffers from chronic migraines and IBS. My daughter has been out of a job since the end of last year. It has been a nightmare for me to be caught in between. My wife and I are believers. My daughter is atheist.


At The Well

Benny says

Dear Troubled,

It is never easy being caught in the middle. Although you had not asked any specific question, I suspect that this comes from how painful it is to even consider what options your family has.

Given your current circumstance, it may be better if your daughter moves out. This will help alleviate the current condition of your wife. It may even improve the current family relationship. This suggestion challenges the notion that staying together is always essential for a good relationship. Having clear boundaries may help improve or at least minimise conflicts.

However, to ensure that this suggestion is not misconstrued, here are some suggestions as to its delivery. Firstly, present the rationale as a way of preserving family harmony, not as a rejection of a family member or ridding the family of a troublemaker. Secondly, involve your daughter in the process by talking about a timeframe and giving her a choice of where to live. You might even suggest a place that is not too far away so that it may be convenient to visit each other. Thirdly, if possible and if needed, offer her any financial help to make such a move possible. Finally, do emphasise the desire to maintain family ties. This may be in the form of regular family meals.

As you take such a move, be prepared for some sadness on your part to see your daughter leaving the home. Such sadness is part of the process of letting go and letting her grow as a person. It will also give your wife and you some needed breathing space to deepen your relationship.