Daughter Not Responding

Q: My daughter and I have had a difficult relationship over the past 10 years since my wife and I divorced. There were a lot of hurt feelings, and I have been working hard to repair this relationship. I agreed to pay some of her bills while she was in college, and I still pay her cell phone bill. However, she hardly ever contacts me and rarely returns my calls or texts. I feel like I should no longer pay this bill if she can't be bothered to communicate with me. Should I stop paying? -Steven, 52

Dr. Anna: Telling her that you're going to take away your money because she isn't contacting you is a great way to ruin what progress you have made. Think it through. What if she increases her contact after you warn her? You will then wonder if she's just calling because she wants your money. Taking your financial support away from her because she isn't contacting you as much as you'd like sends a clear message that money is tied to love. It shouldn't be. Using financial support (or threats to remove it) as a way to stay connected with loved ones is toxic for both people.

Separate money and love, the sooner the better. If you want to have a good relationship with her, make it clear that you support and love her no matter what. If you're going to give her money, give it freely—no strings attached—out of pure love and support for her to live her own life as she will. If you want to stop paying her cell phone or other bills for any reason, give her a three to six month heads up that you won't be able to help her financially anymore and she'll need to make other plans.

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