How do I repair the relationship with my daughter?

She is divorced, has lost her membership in the Church, lives out of town, and recently wanted to bring her married boyfriend here for the night for me to meet. When I told her I would wait till he was divorced, she did what she usually does when not agreed with and told me very disrespectfully and loudly that my Mormon standards were archaic, this is 2013, she can date him as he is legally separated, and that I am ruining a family relationship amongst other very hurtful remarks then hung up the phone.

This daughter has a very poor relationship with her grown children and her other siblings. She has a very successful career and spends loads of money on everyone, I presume trying to ingratiate herself.

I think she is very needy, although portrays herself as being very in control. I obviously am not going to lower my standards to accommodate her and am at a loss as to how to continue any communications with her. She has done this several times in the past and I have always been the one to reach out to her. I feel this time my boundaries have been reached.

When I asked my husband to talk to her he said, “I wasn’t there.”

Do you have any suggestions?


I have to wonder if you’re allowing her behavior to get in the way of your relationship. It sounds like she contacted you to connect with you. Even though you couldn’t feel good about accommodating her direct wishes, are there ways for you to still connect with her and maintain some of your boundaries?

This isn’t a discussion about whether or not you should change your values or whether or not she should change hers. This is a discussion about how you can stay connected in a relationship despite having different viewpoints. You are both holding your relationship hostage because you each want the other to behave in a certain way.

If you both value building a relationship with each other, then finding ways to meet each other’s need for connection will be possible. Since you can’t control how she relates to you, it’s critical for you to decide how you want to feel and behave toward her.

For example, even though you don’t agree with the choices she’s making right now, could you still have gone to dinner with her and her new boyfriend? Your disgust with her choices doesn’t have to keep you from building a relationship with her. As long as things stay respectful between the two of you, there are probably a variety of ways you can keep building your relationship.

You’ve hit your limit and don’t know where else to go. You feel used up and unable to keep putting yourself forward to have her consistently disrespect and insult you. This is a tough place to be. As mortals, we do have limits. We run out of patience and feel like giving up on those we love the most.

Fortunately, earthly parents can plug into the love and support of a Heavenly Father who is perfect at blessing his selfish children. I love the way Robert L. Millet described this attribute of God:

Even the kindest and most sensitive mortals will reach their limit, identify the last straw, and eventually cry out, “That’s it. I just can’t take any more. I’m empty. I have no more to give.” Our God is limitless and supremely long-suffering. His strength and power are infinite, and his compassion and empathy never fail. As I understand our relationship to Deity, we can never approach the throne of grace and be unwelcome guests.[1]

I encourage you to let Father increase your capacity with your daughter so your desire to connect to her doesn’t get buried in resentment and fear. You don’t have unlimited capacity, but you can receive the gift of charity, which keeps your heart right so you can stay open to your daughter when she’s ready to reconnect with you.

You may not have the mother-daughter relationship you always wanted. However, you can hold a place for her as you get your heart right. Coming over to her doesn’t mean you give up your standards. It means giving up your heart to the Savior so he can increase your capacity to stay open to her.

[1] “A Year of Powerful Prayer: Getting Answers for your Life Every Day”, p. 183, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, UT