Dear June, My daughter is angry at me!

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By June O'Connor


I am very worried about my adult daughter, who seems bitter and depressed. She was successful in high school with good grades and award-winning athletics, but did not get into the college of her choice and reluctantly attended a state campus — where she graduated in the top five percent of her class. She went to graduate school and got what I consider to be a good job, but because she did not get the job of her desires, she seems deeply discontented. Whenever I offer a suggestion about where she might apply for a new job, she becomes very angry, as she thinks I am somehow giving up on her and urging her to accept less than she is capable of, less than she deserves. Her anger at me is ruining our relationship. She will not respond to my calls, and I don’t know what else to do.
- At a loss about my daughter


It is entirely possible that there is nothing you can do right now tohelp your daughter. If she is resistant to your efforts to encourage her by suggesting alternative possibilities, it seems that she must learn on her own. Maybe the best thing you can do is tell her that you believe in her, that you are impressed with all that she has accomplished, and that you hope she is able to find a job that taps her considerable talents and satisfies her at the same time. Yet you know that only she can find that combination. Meantime, you wish her well, confident that the right fit will come in time.

Then, get out of her way and let her explore her options on her own. The world will give her the messages she needs to hear about her talents and limitations, and she won’t have to distract herself by blaming you. The more she hears your suggestions, the more she is likely to be angry since your suggestions do not reach her expectations of herself.

Do not discuss job prospects anymore. Focus on other things in life. Suggest that you both embrace a “ceasefire” about this matter and spend your time in other ways. See a movie together, take a hike in the botanical gardens, or read a novel and discuss it over lunch. But do not talk about her unhappiness or her job discontent. Do not try to fix her problem! In other words, do not be the irritant that moves her to be angry! Instead, having affirmed her talents, assure her that you are confident that in time she will find the job of her desires, just as she has achieved impressive grades and sports awards in her younger years. That is a history to remember and a likely pattern to be continued in her future. It also might be helpful for you to remember that job searches often just take time. Let go of your efforts to make her happy. Let her figure this out on her own. CD

Ph.D June O'Connor

If you have a problem for Dr. June O’Connor, write to: Dear June, Catholic Digest, P.O. Box 6015, New London, CT 06320 or email her.