I love my 17 year old daughter deeply, but she only seems to be loving or kind to me when she is feeling good about herself, when her life is going well or when she feels like it. I don’t feel like her love for me (or others) is based on true caring. I realize that this is common among teenagers, but she has always been more of a taker in relationships than a giver. She knows how to act like she cares, and she says she loves me sometimes, but that can quickly change with her mood or if she doesn’t like what I say or how I say it. I’m not sure how to be in this relationship. I will always love her because she is my daughter, but I want her to understand that love relationships are based on give and take and sincere caring. I support her many strengths and her intelligence (she thinks I don’t believe in her abilities – I do, but I think she overdoes it sometimes or doesn’t realize how she can’t always get what she wants), but I also want her to be a good person with healthy and loving relationships. At this point I am ready to avoid interacting with her because I feel sad and hurt that my daughter doesn’t seem to truly care about me or anyone.
– Sad and Frustrated Mom, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Dear Sad and Frustrated Mom,
The mother-daughter karma runs deep and thick. I’m sure this was a hard email for you to write, and quite possibly cathartic just in the writing. I’m sure much has shifted in simply putting fingers to keyboard. But the deeper shift I sense that is waiting to happen for you is in your letting go of needing her to be a certain way and wanting her to have things in a certain way. The way you want it may not be her karma. And, in letting go of your needs for her, she will find the grace, or otherwise, to step into her true nature more fully. And it will be a process of trial and error – as it was for us growing up too.
I’m sure this is, at least in part, a very unsatisfactory response to receive. Step away from needing her to be a certain way, with an open heart and open arms in the fullest expression of love. If you continue to model the kind of love and relating you want for her in your life and in your own relationships both with her and outside of her, then you will be modeling things from the ‘do as I am not do as I say’ perspective – one teenagers, and people in general, can respond much more naturally too.
People want to be like people who are exuding their idea of success and happiness. So I would invite you to make a list of all the things you would like for her to be and all the qualities you would like for her to have, and then turn that list back on yourself. Check that you have all those attributes rolling in your own way of being as well as in your relationships, both with yourself as well as with others; lovers, friends, family, and strangers.
If you haven’t, then you see where your next focus of inner practice lays. If you have already, then perhaps it’s time to deepen those qualities within yourself, or to expand your list.
explore the beauty and meaning of karma
What I am proposing here has little to do with changing her or needing her to be a certain way. It gives you room to honor the qualities she imbibes that are good, kind, and loving. And it holds space for her to find out how life rolls when she engages in ways of being that aren’t so good, kind or loving. She’s in her own testing mode. And she is currently testing you. Life experience will show her the way. And when things fall apart, her mother will be there holding the space in which she can put the pieces back together again.
So perhaps instead of avoiding her, attend to your own hurts while nurturing and loving up on yourself.
And, if she’s open to it, maybe together you might like to watch this interview which discusses consciousness through the different dimensions and how emotions are magnetic. It might offer a framework through which you may discuss various different ways of relating and the effects thoughts and emotions have on your consciousness. And if she’s not open to it, you might enjoy it and find within it another perspective with which you can move forward.
The Mother-Daughter karma is not for the faint of heart darling sister! Keep looking inward and hang in there.
With love and grace,