Q&A with Geoff - My daughter won’t accept my advice for her health

Mar 05, 2020



Our fifth child is in her early 30s and living with us at home for the past several years. She’s divorced with no children. When she was a baby, she seemed to suffer with brain fog. Life is difficult for her.

I want to help her with health things I’ve learned so her mind and emotions will function better. However, she is resistant to anything I recommend or suggest. It makes life hard for her, and our relationship occasionally becomes strained.


First of all, please know that you’re not alone in watching helplessly as your loved ones make life harder for themselves than it needs to be. This is the challenge of living in close proximity to our loved ones who need to discover what path works best for them. Our influence, especially with our children, becomes less direct as they mature. Unless your daughter is asking directly for guidance and support, it’s important to respect her process
As I stated earlier, please remember that although she’s your daughter, she’s not you. I don’t say this to insult you but to keep the focus on accepting your true sphere of responsibility. Unless you have legal guardianship of her, she has to make the decisions for her well-being. You might be right about the types of things that would help her feel better, but you’d be wrong if you expected to force those things on her.

If she has debilitating mental or physical illnesses that threaten her safety, it’s important for you to put aside the relational concerns and press her to get competent medical help. This would be no different than pressing someone with a serious wound to get to the emergency room.

If you believe you’re contributing to her decline by enabling her to stay dependent and passive, you have some important decisions to make about setting up conditions to promote independence. You don’t have to lecture or explain any of this until you’re blue in the face. You can begin changing the ways you support her financially and emotionally

Ultimately, you may even consider creating an exit date for her so she can begin preparing herself to live independently. While you can offer to provide her with safe and clean conditions where she can grow, if she doesn’t use these to her benefit, you have to determine how long you can personally sustain these conditions.

Again, you’ll have to determine what’s she’s truly capable of, depending on her physical and mental conditions. Just remember that even mentally and physically ill people can live independently and thrive. You’ll have to carefully decide what kind of support makes the most sense to offer.

If you’re managing her, you’ll both resent each other. If you stand by to offer assistance, she can accept or decline, but you’ll still be accessible and responsive as her loving parent. This presence is respectful and allows her to maintain her dignity and strength as a grown woman. Hopefully, you can find the right balance of boundaries and support as you move forward with her. 

The article was first seen in St. George News. View the original article here

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