My 33-year-old daughter recently moved back in with me with her six kids and I realize that she doesn’t parent at all. And, my daughter does not work and expects me to pay all the bills. She’s not even taking care of the house or cleaning up herself. If I say anything she doesn’t like, she threatens to move out and not let me see my grandkids. I’m at my wits end what do I do?

- User Submitted

Welcome to Parent Guidance. I'm Dr. Kevin Skinner and thank you for taking time to ask your question. Your question is a question as a parent, that you're 33-year-old daughter and her six children who recently moved back in with you. It looks like the 17-year-olds quit school, 13-year-old is playing video games, 9-year-old is watching the twins, and the five-year-old while you're at work all day and your daughter isn't, isn't helping pay the bills.

But not taking, helping take care of the house. And, if you bring something up you say that she doesn't like it, she threatens to move out and not let you see the grandchildren. You say you're at wits end and, what do I do? Well, first of all, you have taken on a tremendous responsibility or opportunity. I don't know what you want to call it, to be with you, to be with her and your grandchildren. While that may sound great, that's a lot of work.

You're working and it feels like you're being asked to take care of now, a family of seven, which probably is, my guess, is probably more children than you had combined. So, now you've got six grandchildren, and your daughter, who is obviously, something's happened in her life where she is no longer in the relationship she was in. And, the children are basically, sounds to me like, they, too, are following mom's lead and shutting down.

And, so, as I look at this, and I'm thinking if I were in your shoes, how would I respond?

Well, the first thing is, I think we're going to have to have a conversation with your daughter. Now, she might end up moving out, but I don't think that's going to happen because she doesn't have the money and doesn't. Right? She's not, she's not likely to do that. Which by the way might actually be more beneficial for her because, then, there's things that she has to do rather than just being reliant upon you. But that's beside the point. That may be a possibility. But for now, I have to ask a deeper question. What's happened in her life to get her to the point where she is completely shut down? Now as a parent, that's the first question I would be asking, saying, what's happened to my daughter? Why has she completely shut down?

If you can connect with her on that level and help her feel understood, I think you'll have a better opportunity to have influence in her life. So, first general rule in parenting is to seek understanding. Now,  even younger ones. Right? Even younger ones
we do this, but even adults, we have to do the same thing. We have to understand, and as we understand, then the influence can come. At this point right now, my guess is the 17-year-old, the 13-year-old, that the children, they, they're looking for guidance. They're looking for direction. They're looking for someone to lead the way, but they don't have that right now with their mom because something's happened in her life that's taken her, so to speak, out.

So, she's not present in the parenting. Obviously, if they're staying up all night there's just not structure. Children do best when there is a form of structure and guidance. That's kind of the conversation you would want to have with your daughter, once she feels understood. So, it might sound something like this after, after, she, you, understand what she's going through and understanding. The question you might ask her is "Sweetheart, I'm worried about the kids. I don't know what's happening. These are the things I've observed. How can I help you, help them? Now notice, I'm letting, I'm asking her to help me solve this or let's solve this together." Because, I don't think that in this situation if you say "hey, I think you should do this. You should do that. You should do that." She's not going to hear that. I think something's happened in her life where she is been hurt deeply and is really shutting down so she needs to feel that understanding from you. But, also, feel like you're a team working because I'm going to guess that she won't, doesn't want, her 17-year-old to quit school and she doesn't want the 13-year-old playing games, she just doesn't know what to do, and she doesn't want more conflict.

So these are the starting points. First, seek to understand, then have the conversation. What can I do to help you and the children? And, don't be afraid to express your concern as a loving parent, to say, "I'm saying these things because I care. Not because I want to be controlling. It's because I love you and my grandchildren." Thanks for your question here at Parent Guidance. Best of luck.

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Answered by:

Dr. Kevin Skinner

Dr. Kevin Skinner