Agony Aunt

Patricia Marie, MBACP qualified counsellor is a member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Harley Street, Essex and Scotland. She has many years experience of dealing with domestic violence, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, addictions, post traumatic stress and many other emotional issues. If you have a dilemma, please email

Quarrelling Daughters

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 16 October 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,

My daughters, aged 24 and 26, are worrying me lately as there is a distance growing between them. They no longer text each other and seem very unconcerned for the other's happiness. The problems started over one daughter's boyfriend, who can be quite unfriendly and opinionated, and who my elder daughter has taken an extreme dislike to. Her sister obviously wants him to be liked by the family and gets hurt when she is told 'I don't care about him!'. Other seemingly small differences of opinion occurred and these became blown up out of all proportion. Things worsened when the older sister moved away, whilst the younger is still at home with me, as I now feel very much in the middle.

They are very different characters, but have always got on, until now. They each talk to me and tell me they think their sister is at fault, but there are two sides to their arguments, and when I try and placate them I am accused of siding with the other. My efforts to calm the situation do not seem to work and each expects the other to change.

How can I make them see that they must sort this out before it gets even worse?

Patricia Marie says..

Unfortunately, not everything is within our control. Having two adult children who have chosen to feud, is undoubtedly worrying for you. However, it is important to separate your wants and needs from theirs. We all have dreams, hopes, and expectations for our children. A mother's wish is for her offspring to get on, and as much as you want to make things right for them, ultimately this is beyond your control. In fact, the more you try to intervene the more your daughters will probably rebel and turn against you.

What you can control however, is the level of distress this situation is causing you. Let them know how upset you are at their behaviour towards each other, and that you do not want to be drawn into their arguments. As adults they need to act responsibly and resolve the situation themselves before it develops into an irreparable state. Instead of acting as a mediator, which is clearly not working, take a step back, and, without your input, they may then realise just how over exaggerated their problems have become.

Often when siblings fall out, it is their immaturity and lack of appreciation for each other that escalates matters. Without taking sides, or being interested in the details of the argument, emphasise to your girls that life is about compromise. We all need to learn to accept each other's differences. Ask them how they feel life would be without their sibling, and in time they may see sense and move forward to a mutual resolution.

Continue to be the warm, caring, mother you clearly are to your daughters. Hopefully they will understand that whilst you may not always agree with them, or like their behaviour, you will always respect and love them unconditionally. I believe this will inspire them to follow your extremely valuable guidance.
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