Dear Coach Laura,
I’d like to know I can get my daughter to see that she needs to spend quality time with her family in addition to her boyfriend’s family? I made the mistake early in my marriage of paying far more attention to the in-laws and neglected my own family. It’s a darn good thing my family is very forgiving. It’s really about fostering healthy relationships.
Dear Concerned Mom,
I can tell you love your daughter deeply. It sounds to me you have a need to spend some quality time with her. How about telling your daughter how you feel (not your opinion about her) and making a direct request like. Here’s an example: “I love you. I feel (sad, uncomfortable, frustrated, confused, brokenhearted, hurt) because my need for some family time with you is missing. Would you be willing to spend some time with me/our family on ______ date?” Notice there is no lecture and no blaming. Simply making a request is your best bet.
If she says it would be difficult due to the commitments she made to her boyfriend’s family, you can let her know you heard her by repeating her concern and continue to express your feelings (no blame, judgment again). Be careful not to use words that may sound like feelings but are really blaming terms. For example, if you say I feel abandoned, mistreated, ignored or like you don’t care, you are blaming her. If these thoughts come up, ask yourself what is the feeling underneath that statement and share the feeling. Something like, “I feel sad/frustrated/jealous. It’s important to me to see you more often. Would you be willing to __ ” Be sure to make a specific request or ask what would be reasonable. Also, if she reacts negatively, let her know it is not your intention to irritate her.
If she is not able to accept your request, you must accept her. Over time your accepting her and where she is at will bring her closer. In the meantime, take good care of you.