May 10, 2021

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Dear Coleen: My daughter who lives 200 miles away is anxious and I don’t know how to help – Colin Nolan


Dear Colleen

I don’t know what to do about my daughter, who is in her early 30s and is single and lives 200 miles away.

She suffers from psychological problems – anxiety and depression – even though she is seeing a doctor.

Every little thing is blown up in a huge issue and she thinks this just happens to her.

She loved a partner, but says he will never have one. She has been on dating sites but, from what she tells me, no one seems to be responding to her.

We are in regular contact through calls and text messages at the moment due to lockdown restrictions.

But when I text her, she can take hours to respond, and then she says she was out with friends and busy, which is really bothering me.

But when you run into trouble and want to talk, she calls late at night and can stay on the phone for 2 hours. I talk to her for how long this takes, but this leads to an argument with my husband who says she is old enough to start taking responsibility for herself.

She is someone who cares a lot and I hope life is better for her. What can I do to sort things for her?



A woman sitting in a chair
Want to help her daughter more (stock photo)

Colin says

I don’t think you can “sort things out for her”, but you can offer the support and advice that she’s actually doing. The good thing is that she learns about her problems and consults a doctor.

She seems to have a good group of friends, which is a positive again – she doesn’t isolate herself.

Wondering if you can discreetly call one of them to check your daughter’s performance?

I feel frustrated with your husband about late-night phone calls, but as a mom, I know I want to talk to my daughter no matter what time of day and no matter how long it takes.

But it’s a two-way street – she tells you what’s bothering her and it’s okay to explain to her what is making you anxious about the situation: not being able to catch her, for example, when she knows she was struggling.

I wonder if you can go forward by scheduling phone calls on certain days and at specific times. It might be a good idea to have a routine with some limits to be kept.

Your daughter should be helping herself too, but you can remind her that you are there as her safety net and hopefully, you can see each other soon.