I don't know how to communicate with my adult daughter
There is just no communication at all between us. She sleeps constantly all day (not at night). She acts angry and unfocused and stays in her very messy room all the time. The only time she comes out is to eat.
She has aches and fatigue, weight gain, hair loss and skin problems. She does not look after her health.
I don't know how to communicate with her. She is not open to any suggestions. How do I get through to her?
That sounds awful, and is clearly unsustainable. There are some great answers that give some guidance about what might be an underlying condition. If all physical and mental health issues are ruled out, it's time to take action. Get backup from friends or family members if you need to, but let your daughter know you are giving her 30 days notice. She needs to find another place to live within that time. If she wants to stay with you, be clear that first she has to go, with a potential to return after she has been out for a good chunk of time. Once out, she can prove to you, and more importantly to herself, that she is capable of maintaining her health and her environment. Remember, you are going to rule out issues that would make it impossible for her to be successful; if she is in good health, her staying with you and living this way is actually harming her.
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It can be difficult to find ways to talk to your children, or to get them to talk to you. Although it's difficult, it's not impossible; read on to find out how to get your adult child to talk to you.
Learn to Listen
Take the time to listen to them when they want to talk. Instead of saying you'll talk to them later, step away from what you're doing and listen to what they have to say. Don't talk, interrupt or be quick to offer advice; just listen.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
As you listen, your knee jerk response may be to quickly resolve their issue, offer advice or maybe even dismiss their complaints or opinions. Put yourself in your teen's shoes; think about how you would feel if your spouse responded to you the way you respond to them.
Watch for Signs
Everyone has a desire to be heard and understood. Mirror back to them what you hear them saying. Watch for signs that they're not being heard or understood by you. They might roll their eyes, shake their head, wave their hand at you or interrupt. When they're nodding and/or silent, you'll know you've understood.
Ask Specific Questions
Ask specific questions rather than general "how was your day?" questions. Ask questions about a friend you know by name. Ask open ended questions such as, "What was the best thing that happened today? What was the worst thing?"
Location, Location, Location
When and where you try to talk to your kid matters. One of the worst times to talk to kids is after work. Just like you do after work, they need wind-down time. Instead, ask questions around the dinner table. It's casual, and there's no pressure for eye contact.
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I know that your situation is frustrating and debilitating. It sounds like she either has a medical or mental condition. She needs help, and for the sounds of it, you want to help her. I suggest that you take the time to contemplate the best way and time to approach her. Rehearse ahead of time what you want her to hear and what the end goal is. I know it might seem like a lot of work for you to do and perhaps you even feel frustrated about that, but the only way you will reach her is if you approach it in a way she hears your concern and desire to help her. Be prepared with facts and places to go for help. The better prepared you are, the better the chances of her to act on it. Remind her how much you love her and how it is not healthy for her or for the relationship for this to continue. With lots of love and patience, you can make a difference. Stay Strong!
Best of luck to you and your daughter,
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I'm sorry for what sounds like a frustrating situation.
For how long has your daughter lived the way you describe and did it start all of a sudden or more gradually come on?
What you write sounds like a major depressive disorder and this can start for a variety of reasons and improve in just as many different ways.
Start with how you are feeling about the situation.
Ask yourself for how long you will be able to tolerate the way your daughter lives and if you feel any satisfaction in your mother daughter relationship.
If she is of legal age, and you don't want her to live with you, you've tried convincing her to get medical care for its own sake and to more clearly see her emotional and psychological health, and she is unwilling to take care of herself, you can discuss your options with the adult protective services agency in your state.
The first step is to know what exactly is her problem so you can decide if its own you are willing to take care of or not.
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1. She's an adult.
2. She lives in your house? She follows your rules.
3. What you're describing could be any number of things, but could potentially be a medical issue that needs attention. Thyroid issues, autoimmune diseases - there's a ton of medical possibilities for her symptoms. I'm not a doctor; this is a forum of therapists.
4. I recommend the book "Codependent No More" which may help you navigate your rocky relationship with your adult daughter. You may be inadvertently making things worse by "helping" her which can instead enable her to continue her behaviors. Another book you may find helpful is "Boundaries: Where you end and I begin". You cannot control another person, especially an adult. The only person you can control is yourself. Tough love is sometimes needed, and she is an adult - treat her like one. Maybe then she'll act like one. If we were having this conversation in person, you would interrupt me at this point with a "but..." and then explain all the reasons why you can't tell her to move out, get a job, get up and cook or clean the house, etc. I already know that you have a myriad of excuses for things being the way they are. Yes, I said excuses instead of reasons, because that's what they are. You may feel stuck and like you have to take care of her, but you have choices - you just may not like them. I know that when children are small, parents' lives are focused around them (some more than others) and decisions are made around what is best for your child. But you said your daughter is an adult. The relationship dynamics must change if the relationship is to be a healthy one. I know how difficult it is to watch your child make life choices that you wouldn't want for them, no matter what that choice may be. As a parent, we want to force them to do what we think is "the right thing" but trying to do that only results in frustrations for everyone involved. Whether the issue is a hair color, a tattoo, a lifestyle choice, a job, or choosing not to work or take care of their health, or doing drugs, or drinking - the choice is theirs and theirs alone and so are the consequences of those choices.
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