Moody adult daughter?


New Member
My daughter is very moody and ungreatful. My husband and I have driven 8 hours to come to her home and help her and her husband prepare the nursery for their first baby. We worked hard to help her as her husband has long hours of work. She has always been moody and makes us feel unwelcome in her home - the tension she exudes could be "cut with a knife". She constantly "cuts me down" with anything and everything I say or do. She is our only child and I've always supported her and "had her back". I just don't understand! Actually it has been so bad this trip that I don't think my husband will want to come back :( and the baby is due next month. She's 23 and has always been mature for her age. She makes me feel as tho I'm the worst person/mother ever. Any advice would be appreciated!
As a moody adult daughter myself, I would ask you to consider what the origins of her "moodiness" might be? What kind of childhood did she have? Did you have a close relationship until 1)you remarried 2) she married? 3)she became pregnant?. Perhaps the issue is not you or your husband but the predicament she now finds herself in. If the only thing you bring to the situation is your own needs, than perhaps that is what she is picking up on. If you never had a close relationship than what do you expect? If you want a close relationship maybe instead of being put out, you might want to approach her one on one with a sincere and open heart to "get to the bottom" of the tension in your relationship. If you can not approach your own daughter with sincerity and concern than perhaps the problem stems from that. You WERE the adult. You WERE in charge. It was your responsibility when she was a child. It, sad to say, is still your responsibility to fix it. Suck it up and be the bigger person. Ask her honestly how you can help. What can YOU do to make her life happier? Tell her you are genuinely concerned about her demeanor...not because it makes you or your husband uncomfortable, but because you are her mom, you love her and are truly worried. Hope this helps.


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No, it is not her responsibility to fix it. Her daughter is acting with disrespect and meanness and she is a woman now. Its high time SHE explain her issues kindly or stop expecting her parents to help her. Sorry about your upbringing. I had a bad one too. And I did not like my mother. At the same time I wasnt offered support from her and never asked for any. My mother never babysat for me let alone made a fuss over a grandchild. That is a blessing for this woman. She could appreciate it.

I tell the poster that her grown daughter sounds ungrateful. Groveling to her probably will make it worse. She is not a little girl anymore. Its up to Mom and Dad if they want to go back or not. It is perfectly fine not to if they have been badly treated in their attempt to give help. There is no right or wrong answer and not all biotchy kids act that way because they had poor parenting. Sounds like they love adult daughter a lot. Sometimes its their personality/problem.

Nobody can make another person happy. THEY have to get help and heal. This is what this board is about....we can not control other people and we dont need to be abused by grown adult children. Or anyone.
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Active Member
Nora. Welcome. I am not going back to read the original old post but commenting on mother daughter relationships.

I'm no doubt considered a moody adult daughter also. I'm 60+ and my mother is 90+. And she was considered a moody, difficult daughter! All sad but true.

I agree with SWOT that by my definition being a Mom doesn't mean its my responsibility to always fix things.

From my perspective there's a point at which we have to put aside our childhoods and try to establish adult relationships. For those of us with sad childhoods it requires forgiveness. We have to forgive what happened in order to move on. In my case to this day my mother sees herself as perfect in every way and considers herself a perfect mother at every moment of her children's lives. So I can forgive, and do for my own mental health, in a theoretical way. But I can't forgive her as a person because she doesn't want forgiveness as she sees nothing wrong. So that will always be hard.

The question then is can I establish an adult relationship with my mother. What do I expect and what do I want from that relationship? Is my mother capable of giving me what I need and want? Sadly my mother has never had the ability, due to her mental illness, to meet the needs and wants of myself and my kids. I tried on and off for many years. Every few years wipe the slate clean and try again. Never worked. My over-sensitivity? Maybe to some extent. But then she's also made it clear that I'm a total disappointment and she doesn't want me around as an embarrassment to her. After all, my children are of a different race, one is an addict in prison, one has autism, etc etc. So its never going to work and I gave up.

The question re mental illness is always can the person control their behavior? Eg if the person is psychotic they probably can't. If they are depressed can they? This is where forgiveness gets hard. We can forgive the person who can't control themselves. But if we think they can control it then forgiveness is harder.

From the other side, I'm not a perfect person or perfect parent. My kids have things to forgive me for. I hope we have worked these things out. But I will never be their ideal mother nor, is it likely that one will ever be the son I had hoped for. This is life. Forgive, forget and move on. Actually I have two mottos I live by...

One day at a time... Ie live for today only


The AA prayer.. God grant me....and this is where I know that I cannot change my mother. However, nor can I accept the way she treats my children and myself.


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I got confused. This response is to the original mother who felt herself to be mistreated.

We cannot control the actions of another person nor their feelings about us. There could be many reasons for your daughter's behavior but I do not believe you have control over any of them. That she acts a certain way and that she may feel a certain way has nothing to do with her.

You will have to decide whether being in your daughter's life and near your soon to be grandchild's life, is worth it to you to be exposed to her criticism, her moodiness, and her lack of gratitude.

I find it very ill-mannered that a daughter would mistreat a mother who has come a long distance to help her.

The thing is this: the feelings are in you. That you feel like "worst mother" is in you, not in her. There is a way to separate your feelings from her behaviors. It is very, very hard, but it is doable. The process is called "detachment." Insulating yourself from behaviors over which you have no control. Those behaviors are your daughter's to own, not yours.

This is a tough decision. Your daughter may someday change, but she will not do so because you want her to.

My mother was in this situation with my sister. It was terribly painful for her. My sister used her children as bait and manipulated my mother by controlling whether or not she could be close to the children. Over time my mother learned to deal with it, but it was never pleasant for her. She chose to submit to the bad behavior of my sister because she loved her and she loved her grandchildren. My sister did not get better but until the ends of her days my mother loved her. Love sometimes does not have much to do with how one is treated. I guess that is what they mean by unconditional love.

Many mothers have posted here with the same kind of problem. It is seldom easy, but the majority seem to work it out.

I would hope that you do not let your daughter mistreat you. You do not deserve it. I agree with your husband who wants to limit how much you and he are disrespected and hurt. I hope you set some boundaries so that you are protected and the relationship comes to have some reciprocity and she is limited in how much damage she can do. Perhaps you can stay in a hotel and restrict how much help you give her. Why would you help somebody who treats you badly?


Well-Known Member
I agree with all of this:
is still your responsibility to fix it
. Suck it up and be the bigger person. Ask her honestly how you can help.
But I still believe this mother should not be mistreated if the daughter invited her to her home specifically that the mother should help her. There is basic decency involved. No matter what happened between them the daughter is responsible for behaving like a reasonable human.

Now. It could be that the perceptions of the mother are skewed, by defensiveness or guilt, or need, or selfishness, or whatever. After all, we mothers are human. In that case, we each of us need to examine ourselves.

I agree with Nora, because the only way this will change is to take 100 percent of the responsibility and 100 percent of the risks. Why? Relationships are always this way. We cannot ask for that which we are unwilling to give. Any problem in a relationship is best solved by taking responsibility for the whole and telling one's whole truth. People let down their defenses and tell the truth. Hearts do not open by tit for tat. They open when another heart opens to them.

All of this is the mother's responsibility: to either set limits and stay away or be the bigger person. I think this is what Nora means.


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But Copa why should any human being take 100 percent of the responsibility and risk?

That is so uncomfortable and unpleasant is anything worth it?

Is it worth it to be in the presence of anyone who dislikes you and treats you as if you are nothing? Or "bad?"

As one who has done it, although not with a child, for me I am sorry I wasted my time. It didnt change anything.

With unreasonable people who dont want to correct a situation but want to punish you, asking in the nicest voice what is wrong can be an opening for a real hatefest against you with no opening for you to explain your point of view. Often their "truths" never happened or are skewed. It could be a difference in perception of reality or gaslighting. Angry people are deadly. Thats why I am no longer playing the game with anyone who plays mind games at all.

My mother did nothing to try to be kind to me from the time I was born. She told me that when they placed me in her arms in the hospital, she felt "nothing, absolutely nothing." Her final kiss off was disinheriting me. Along the way family also ostracized me. They kept me from knowing about illnesses and deaths in my family. To get a true medical history for my doctor, I had to be nice to my mean-to-me sister and now I finally have medical history. But I dont have sister. I dont want her anymore and am sorry I tried.

The truth is we can not always comfortably connect with family and trying hard doesnt always work. Copa your sister and mother are an example. Oh what a price your poor mother paid to keep your sister and her kids in her life! In the end your sister still mistreated her.

Angry bitter people bargain only for their own favors. With some there is no way to talk it out and move on. It sounds nice. Psychology loves it.

It doesnt always work. I assume this mother already asked her daughter to talk to her about it. Mothers do that. But they cant force a sense of working it out with the adult child. It has to be 50/50 or it doesnt work. 100/0 is pointless.

I agree with Smithsmom that adult kids need to move on. Sometimes the best way to fo so is without the family you were born into. It is in my opinion kinder to move on without them than to keep playing mean games with the person you are angry at.

Likely this daughter will play keep away from Grandma anyways. Or impose strict ridiculous demeaning rules on how she has to behave if she ever wants to see the grandchild.

Life is not perfect. There are no perfect answers and often no good solutions. We all decide what we will put up with.
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Well-Known Member
But Copa why should any human being take 100 percent of the responsibility and risk?
I did not mean that the mother should accept mistreatment or blame. Responsibility and risk are a different animal. Love always involves risk. If you would read my first post again. I am saying first that nobody should accept mistreatment and that it is this mother's responsibility to limit this by staying away from this daughter who mistreats her. If you read my first post you will see that this is what I said.

But the thing is this: The mother is in the power position if she takes it. She is allowing the daughter to have free rein in how the relationship is defined. Nobody should have this kind of power over another person. Not a daughter or a mother.

The mother feels trapped. She is not. There are many choices available to her from complete no contact to victimhood. But somewhere in the middle there is the capacity to decide to solve a problem. Solving a problem in a relationship is not only about boundaries, it is about will and motivation and commitment and responsibility, too.

I can say about somebody I love that I love them with all my heart. That I am open to hearing their pain and taking to heart their grievances with me. I will decide to not lash out or to defend. I will hear them. I will decide the conditions under which I will do this, and I will decide before I go into the situation, what my boundaries are. If those boundaries are crossed I will simply leave to try another day or not. This is what it would be to me to take one hundred percent of the responsibility and risk. It is most definitely NOT to be a doormat. It is to take the power position.

This is what I mean to take one hundred percent of the responsibility and the risk. This does not mean to take on fault or blame. It does not involve accepting victimhood. It does not mean being less so, or being undeserving. It means holding ones own power and deciding to take full responsibility to be open to another person, and to working on a remedy.

This mother wants a relationship with her daughter. There is not one thing wrong in the world to be open to what the daughter has to say, without being defensive which can itself be to be on the offense in a relationship.
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Well-Known Member
That is so uncomfortable and unpleasant is anything worth it?
Only an individual can decide what is worth it. I believe a relationship with a child would be worth it. I believe you do too.
It didnt change anything.
We cannot change another person but we can change ourselves. We change our capacity to hold the emotions of another person without reacting; we change our sense that we are deserving; we change our locus of control from in other people to that of holding the power in ourselves, about our lives.

I agree with Nora. This daughter could have unspoken grievances. It is not always so simple, and the most desirable alternative is not always to label somebody as bad, difficult, impossible, disrespectful, etc., as the repository of all bad, and then to walk away. It is never in life all one-sided. There is always responsibility to go around. A mother could if she chooses, approach a child, setting aside all blame, all resentment, all sense of being victimized, and merely listen. That is what Nora advocates. A relationship between mother and child is qualitatively different from any other relationship because the bond in most cases is inviolable.

Please hear me: I am not suggesting to accept indiscriminate abuse. I am suggesting that if a mother would want to she could decide to listen to and to hear her child. I think I would go to therapy first. Or AA.

I only mean this:
The AA prayer.. God grant me....and this is where I know that I cannot change my mother. However, nor can I accept the way she treats my children and myself.
There is a whole spectrum of possibilities in relationships. What each of us has lived is only one iteration.

I am not writing here about what you experienced with your mother or your sister. That is your story. The stories of others do not have to be the same.
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Well-Known Member
Often when we think about these mother-child problems we think about the characteristics of the child, in this case a daughter. The daughter is difficult, demeaning, disrespectful, whatever.

The real issue is the mother, not her own faults or responsibilities but her own needs. How motivated is she to keep the relationship and on what terms? Many, many parents have difficult children. Very few terminate relationships. They find a way to live with the situation, and hopefully they change so that they are not so wounded by the relationship; in that they do not permit themselves to be wounded so, or they insulate their feelings so that when the child does act out, they do not feel the wounds so severely.


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Copa....I read hastily and am sorry. You are right. It hurts nothing to sit and listen silently to grievances. Then we can decide if we can fix it. Or not. Very true.

Copa I do not think I would go this far even for a child I loved very much. Difficult like Bart, yes. We still have a strong love connection. He does not always speak nice but he isnt personally critical of me. I never doubt his love.

If one if my kids were cold to me, I would be very uncomfortable. I have trouble being in a space of disapproval and shame and couldnt do it even to keep contact with a mean adult child. I dont think I would choose to. That doesnt mean I feel a decision to do so is wrong. In difficult personal relationships with people we love, to me there is no right or wrong. We do what we can handle.

Your mother was strong. I mean that. I could not have handled that treatment for any reason. But I am very sensitive. I dont have that sort of strength. I really do leave difficult relationships, albeit sometimes too late.

Copa I am in my happy place with my loving family of choice and chosen few friends that I volunteer with. But some people will do whatever to be near people they love who may not be so kind. And they prefer it that way. And kudos to them for doing what they feel is right for them.

Forgive me please for answering your post before I had time to read it more carefully. Plus I should read nothing before coffee ;)

Love ya!
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Well-Known Member
We are very like, SWOT, in our woundedness, and in our defenses. I am very like this, as well:
I have trouble being in a space of disapproval and shame and couldnt do it even to keep contact with a mean adult child. I dont think I would choose to.
I really do leave difficult relationships, albeit sometimes too late.
I agree with you, in this: "We do what we can handle." Recently I heard or read that people characteristically and defensively respond in one of three ways: They freeze, they attack or they flee. I think we both flee. M attacks.

We are very like animals, in this. I was having a hard time thinking of a person I know who freezes, and could not. But I can think of animals that do. Maybe these are the animals who are camouflaged and blend into their environment, and they do not move when they detect a predator, melding into the ecosystem, and hoping they are undetected. I must not favor people who react this way, and that is why I don't know any, that I am aware of.


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Copa I have done all three. When I attack I usually make a fool out of myself because I attack in hurt and am not rational. Thus I can cry and say nonsense. I also do freeze but usually when a bad event happens, not when I am attacked.My freezing is mostly not being able to think...kind of shock freeze. Mostly I flee. That may be why I chose to be around kind, non critical people. I am not one who likes to be involved in a crowd of peeps. Friends can be NOT friends and cliques can turn nasty. I dont do cliques....never liked them. I am happy with my family and chosen friends whom I trust. I am happier with animals and books than people outside of my circle.

My attacks have just about disappeared. When hurt now, I just walk away.

We are a lot alike emotionally.
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Relationships are always complicated and always have many facets that we don't understand.If i am reading this correctly fed up was the original poster. She went to help her daughter set up her nursery which was very kind of her. I am unclear on whether the daughter requested her help. She does not feel welcomed by her daughter. If daughter requested help and then is unwelcoming then i suggest mother tell her calmly you ask us to come and are making us feel unwelcome. Can you please tell me why. If mom took it upon herself to show up when daughter did not ask it may have been they wanted to do project by themselves. Like Copa and swot i have my own perspectives on relationships from my own experiences but they are not applicable here. To me it boils down to getting to the root of why daughter is unwelcoming which means having a conversation with her daughter and then explaining her side. After that both mother and daughter need to consider what boundaries need to be put in place and move on. Example if daughter is going to continue to be abusive mother needs to decide what she is willing to put up with if anything and make that clear. If daughter feels mother is in the wrong she needs to tell her why and what she is willing to accept. If they cant do that on their own they may need a mediator such as a councelor or a clergy. My son resents the amount of attention i have given to my oldest bipolar son and i accept that i am guilty of that but he needs to understand that i love all my sons. Our boundary is that i see them seperately and do not force conversations about him. This is very difficult for me around the Holidays. He still sees and talks to me far less often than i would like but is loving when we do. I have to accept that. He has to accept that i will not totally eliminate my oldest from my life. Prayers are with all of us with difficult choices to make.


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I think talking it out, including with help, is great.

In too many cases one party is unwilling to go the extra mile for a resolution. Some just dont seem to want one. Some want nothing to do with third party intervention. Some have already decided that you are the problem and will be mistreated.

I have lived this so I know that not all problems and family relationships can be fixed, no matter how gracious, loving and open the person who wants to resolve it becomes. It takes two who BOTH have open minds and WANT resolution.

And if this slways worked, estrangement would not be at an epidemic proportion. This is wirldwide. Family is no longer seen as the sacrad bond it once was. Ok

Should we try?


Will it always work?

Absolutely not.

There are no one size fits all in relationships, even when it sounds good on paper.