Ask the therapist: My daughter took advantage of my generosity, what should I do?

In the “Consulting Therapist” series, I will answer all your questions about mental health and psychology. Whether you are struggling with mental health, coping with anxiety about life situations, or just looking for insights from a therapist, a question. Please note that I am here every Thursday Healthy Mind Communication.

Our readers ask

My adult daughter believes that my husband and I have an obligation to help her because she is a single mother. However, no matter how much we give her or how much time we spend to see the children for free, she insists that we have not done enough for her. We think she took advantage of our generosity, but we are afraid of the consequences if we don’t interfere with her. what should we do?

–Marion, 64

Amy’s answer

You are in a difficult situation. Obviously, you want to help your daughter and grandchildren. However, it doesn’t sound like you feel that your help is welcome. The fact that you feel used is a sure sign that it is time to establish healthy boundaries.

Redefine your sense of responsibility

You may have a sense of responsibility towards your daughter, which makes sense. She is a single mother, and you certainly don’t want to see her or your grandchildren struggling.

But you are not obligated to help. She is an adult, and it is her responsibility to take care of herself and her children.

Of course, just because you have no legal or moral obligation to participate does not mean you cannot. It is up to you to decide how much help you want to provide.

The key is to realize that your help is a choice. You can help her because you want to—not because you have to.

Decide together what you want to offer

It is important that you and your husband agree on how much time and money you want to give your daughter.

How many hours of free childcare services do you want to provide per week? How much do you want to give her every month? Do you have anything else you want to offer?

If the two parties disagree, please don’t do this. Otherwise, your efforts will cause serious rifts in your relationship. And you will not give anyone any benefit.

Communicate your boundaries

Once you have decided what you are willing to do, tell your daughter these boundaries. You might say something like, “We are feeling really tired lately and we decided to reduce the childcare services we can provide. We are very happy to have two afternoons a week to see the children,” or “If this helps you, we It’s a pleasure to pay your Internet bills every month.”

Your daughter will probably fight back to make you change your mind. For example, she may insist that you are unfair, or if you cannot do anything for her, she may tell you not to worry about anything.

But the important thing is to stick to the limits you set. Otherwise, you will continue to overstretch yourself and become dissatisfied with her in the process.

Get advice from the VigorTip Mind podcast

This episode of The VigorTip Mind Podcast, hosted by LCSW’s editor-in-chief and therapist Amy Morin, shares how to set boundaries to restore strength.

Provide resources and alternatives

If you are concerned that your daughter needs more support than you wish (it sounds like you do), please provide her with information about other resources.

You can give her a list of childcare services. Or, you may be willing to pay for her to talk to a financial adviser who can help her make a budget.

This may convince her that you are willing to provide support-even if it means recommending her to someone who can help instead of doing the work yourself.

Practice effective communication

When your daughter insists that you have not done enough to help, please take a moment to verify how she might feel. Say something like this, “It must make you very frustrated.” Just make sure you speak with a sincere tone and it doesn’t sound ironic.

She is expressing her pain to you. When she realizes that you heard what she wanted to say, she might breathe a sigh of relief.

Although you may want to respond to her with words like “We have done a lot for you!” Or “You get more support than most people”, comments like this are likely to put her into defensive mode.

If you listen and reflect what you hear about her feelings, whether you agree or not, the conversation will get better.

If she said something inappropriate, you have no obligation to continue talking to her. End the conversation for now and tell her that you will discuss things when she is calm.