I recently traveled to Germany to help my 19-year-old daughter settle in for her semester of study abroad. I was in tears the entire trip home, not because I was sad to leave her, but because she kept lashing out at me for anything from using a cotton swab to following proper directions exiting the train, to asking simple — but, in her mind, ridiculous — questions. This is not new behavior. Her brother has also observed her overreactive behavior to minor things.
I treated her and her roommate to dinners out and stocked her apartment with groceries, in addition to making significant financial contributions toward her tuition. I’m also splitting the cost of her monthly rent with her dad.
I feel hurt, like she regards me as only an ATM. She wouldn’t even let me use her European electrical adapter to charge my phone before leaving for the airport.
Should I convey how hurt I feel and, if so, what are your suggestions? I feel if I have a phone conversation, she will sigh, tell me she doesn’t have time for this or accuse me of being a killjoy. If I put it in a letter, I’ll feel like a coward, but it will allow me to express my feelings without interruption or protest.
— UNAPPRECIATED IN VERMONT
You definitely need to convey how hurt you feel! Your daughter is being a brat. You didn’t have to fly all the way to Germany to help her settle in. My parents didn’t do that when I went to Australia. They sent me off, lent me some money, and I took care of the rest once I got there. She is abusing you.
Write the letter. You said so yourself that you’ll be able to get all of your feelings out on paper without interruption, so do that. It is not cowardly. You will be communicating in the most effective way for you and that’s important! You will need to address her behavior and give her an ultimatum. You can’t continue to fund her life and be treated like that. It’s not right. She needs to learn how to act and behave like a proper human being.