Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas: A volcanic family row

My eldest daughter recently started a violent row with me, she's since apologised, but I'm finding it really hard to deal with it and move on

Share

Dear Virginia,

On the outside we’re a normal family, with a boy and a girl at university, and an older daughter. But recently our eldest came home and started a violent row with me, shouting abuse, breaking a glass over me, and storming out. As I come from a violent family, I found this really upsetting. I apologised, and she’s now apologised to my husband but says she finds me “really annoying”. I feel such a failure. Most mothers are so close to their girls. My husband and I have learned a lot through counselling but this episode has destroyed me. What can I do?

 

Yours sincerely,

Elsa

Virginia says...

I’m always baffled by violent outbursts such as this. Not to mention incredibly upset. But other people I’ve talked to find such explosions nothing but amusing or, at least, they let them wash over them.

I think it all depends on how you’ve experienced these kinds of outbreaks in the past. If you’re from an emotional and passionate family, one in which people are always having meltdowns and then making up with warm expressions of affection, these rows may not be a sign of distance but, rather, of closeness. They are all part of loving. If you never experienced such things in your childhood – as I never did – they are incredibly frightening. 

If, however, you come from a violent background, as you’ve done, and you associate these outburst with real hatred and malevolence, they can be absolutely terrifying. No matter that some rational bit of you knows that your daughter loves you, however annoying she finds you; no matter that she’s never behaved this way before; no matter that she’s apologised – though admittedly not to you. The very act of screaming and throwing sends you right back to being a terrified child in the middle of a horrible chaotic home life.

Most children can find their parents annoying at times. If that’s all she's complaining about as far you’re concerned, you’re getting off lightly. She doesn’t think you’re hateful or cruel. Just irritating at times. And there is always the other truth, which is that people often only let off steam in this way to people they feel closest to. I know it seems unfair – I wish people close to me who feel angry with life would let off steam at strangers rather than at me, but there we are.

My advice to you would be to keep away for a while. I suspect that her behaviour had very little to do with you and was just an expression of stress and frustration with life in general. I don’t think you should have it out – you risk another outbreak. If you’ve had help from counselling before, can you go back to the same counsellor and just ask for a little more help to get you through this difficult time? And I’d try, next, to meet your daughter with other people around and slowly get back to a normal relationship with no recriminations or apologies. Keep loving her. And remember it wasn’t, I’m sure, personal.

Readers say...

Don’t blame yourself

Those of us like you who have had difficult childhoods tend to take too much responsibility for others. It’s easy to end up believing the abuse of others as it taps into our old “stuff” of unworthiness. I went through hell with both my daughters and was blamed, humiliated and judged by social services and the justice system for everything they did. In fact I’d done my best like most parents, and they had to learn to be accountable for their actions. I had good support from the police, and called them many times when I didn’t feel safe at home. I too wondered if I’d ever have a good relationship with them again.

Kicking out one daughter was the best thing I did. She came to her senses swiftly and now lives a productive useful life and we have a close, happy relationship. The other daughter ended up in care (which was where her troubles really started) but we are gradually feeling our way towards mutual civility. I’ve never found out why she went off the rails, why she hated me and what I did that upset her so much. It may be that you and your daughter need to put your relationship on hold for a while. Things may get worse before they get better. I wish you strength, determination and the courage of your convictions.

Name and address withheld

Next week’s  dilemma

Dear Virginia,

Six months ago I was banned from driving for a year – I got too many points on my licence. Somehow I’ve managed to prevent my husband from finding out and whenever he suggests I drive somewhere I’ve said I’ve felt sick, or that I’ve got the wrong glasses or I’ve made some excuse. But this summer we’re driving from the South to Scotland and  he wants me to share the driving. I know I should tell him the truth, but he’s the sort of person who would never let this drop. How can I get out of driving just for another six months?

Yours sincerely,

Adele

What would you advise Adele to do?

Email your dilemmas and comments to dilemmas@independent.co.uk. Anyone whose advice is quoted or whose dilemma  is published will receive a £25 voucher from the wine  website Fine Wine Sellers.

Virginia Ironside’s new novel is ‘No! I Don’t Need Reading Glasses’ (Quercus, £14.99)

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Linux Administrator - London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors

£13000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Please read this fully before a...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executives - Home Based - £150,000 OTE

£100000 - £150000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity t...

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: I would create a government that actually reflects its people

Kaliya Franklin
 

The UK’s train service is rubbish — it needs a woman's touch

Alice Jones
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower