Liz’s experience with her 20 year-old daughter, Kendra, had been similar to Laura’s with her daughter, Kelly, as I described in the last article.
Kendra expected everything; she felt entitled.
Kendra had always insisted that her rules should rule their home. The older she got, the more demanding and threatening, the more bullying and abusive she became. Liz finally saw this as the logical consequence of her merely trying to teach Kendra polite and civil rules without any consequences, and of her ultimately letting Kendra win and do what she wanted. Kendra had become selfish, narcissistic, unappreciative, ungrateful, entitled; with an “I can treat you any way I want and you’ll still give me what I want” attitude.
In college, Kendra continued bullying, abusing and then dismissing her mother. She demanded everything she wanted. Liz complied: she paid for Kendra’s car, gas and insurance; she paid for Kendra’s phone; of course she paid Kendra’s tuition, room, board and books. She sent Kendra extra spending money each month. Liz was glad to do all this to give Kendra a head start in life.
But she deeply resented that Kendra never said “”Thank you” or showed any signs of caring about Liz’s feelings or the hard work it took her to give Kendra all that money and goodies. Kendra never expressed caring, appreciation or respect.
In Kendra’s sophomore year, Liz was pushed over the edge when her daughter appeared suddenly for a weekend because her other friends would also be back in town. Kendra spend the two days with her friends, raided the refrigerator and emptied it, and trashed her room and bathroom before racing to get back to school. She never stopped to even have coffee with her mother.
Liz applied consequences.
She didn’t send Kendra money the next month. Kendra called in a rage. Liz said she’d spend the money restocking the refrigerator and hiring maids to clean up the mess Kendra left. Instead of apologizing and making promises, Kendra cursed her mother and raged more. Big mistake.
Liz said she was not going to pay for Kendra’s phone any more. Kendra raged even more. Liz said, since Kendra never showed any appreciation, she might as well not give. Kendra said that was simply financial blackmail and she’d never give in. She was in charge of her own life. Liz owed her whatever she wanted and Liz had better pay up. Big mistake.
Shortly before Christmas break, Liz told Kendra she’d converted Kendra’s room into a studio for herself. If Kendra came home for vacation, she’d have to come as a guest and sleep on the pull-out bed in the living room. And any mess left in the living room would go right to charity. Kendra raged even more and said she wasn’t coming home. Liz replied with excitement: since Kendra wasn’t coming, Liz would use the time to go on a vacation trip with friends. And she’d changed the locks.
After Christmas, Kendra called Liz to tell her Liz had ruined her life. She had a miserable time at a friend’s house where she had to be on her best behavior all the time.
Liz said she knew Kendra could be a wonderful person if she wanted and she hoped Kendra would maintain those high standards of behavior toward her. And if she didn’t, the car was next.
Kendra blew up. Liz should feel guilty for ruining her life and forcing her to accept standards she didn’t want. Mothers are supposed to make their children happy. Liz laughed and said she thought daughters were supposed to make their mothers happy. Or they were both supposed to make each other happy.
She was proud, not the least bit guilty. She was finally teaching her daughter how hard it would be to make her way in the world as a selfish, entitled, narcissistic person. Giving respect and appreciation in return for generosity was a crucial part of succeeding in life. Kendra raged more.
Three days later Kendra called to apologize for her treatment of Liz. She promised to be good and respectful. Liz said she thought that would be wonderful. Kendra said, since she promised to act nice, would Liz immediately send money, pay for her phone and give her a key and her room back.
Liz requires good behavior over time; not mere promises.
Liz explained to Kendra a series of steps Kendra would have to take over time in order to be given more. It was just like apologizing and making amends over time.
Kendra would have to call at least once a week and be polite and fun for two months before they’d talk about the next step. Liz could hear Kendra clench her teeth but she promised. And then she did. Over the next two years, Kendra satisfied every one of Liz’s requirements.
Would Kendra maintain her polite, considerate behavior when she became financially independent?
Liz couldn’t predict. Kendra would show her true character when the time came. But, at least Liz could enjoy two years of good connection with her daughter while she hoped for the best.
Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation. The best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:
- Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
- Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.
Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.