We often overlook the importance of relationship when our children are misbehaving. This mom wonders how to repair a fraught relationship with her adopted 19-year-old daughter.

Q: My now 19-year-old daughter is adopted from Ukraine as 1-year-old, and we’ve been having the “who’s in charge?” fight since she turned four. She has had developmental issues and learning issues, but, she’s smart and extremely hard-headed. She lies to us. She has her learner’s permit and a job at Walmart 

I want her out of the house. She listens to loud, offensive music to me, and has no self-discipline. We still remind her to brush her teeth, pay her barn board for her horse, etc. My hubby wants her to “leave well.”  He is sick with an autoimmune disease and stress from her makes him worse. She picks fights with us both. As a Christian and a submissive wife, I’m waiting for him to have enough of her attitude and disrespect to kick her out, but I don’t see it happening. 

I keep talking to him about it being our house and her having to play by our rules if she wants to live here. I know part of the problem stems from him undermining my authority with her when she was younger.

Biblically, I don’t know what to do. And from a parenting standpoint I don’t either. When I talk with hubby, he says she’s over 18 and we can’t take away the music, the phone, etc. She thinks she knows everything and can take care of herself, but she doesn’t and can’t. He won’t stop her if she leaves, but he won’t kick her out.

A: I hear your pain over the fractured relationship you have with your daughter. My heart breaks for your family to have this much discord and stress, especially with your husband’s illness.

When we focus on the relationship with our adult children over trying to change their behavior, then you’ll find much more success in behavioral changes…because we want to please those with whom we are close.

I can offer you hope for a better tomorrow…but only if you decide you want to change. You’re the only person who can change in this equation. You can’t make your daughter change. You can’t make your husband change. So you have to be the one to change. And if you do, I firmly believe, you will have less stress and strife in your home.

What I’m about to tell you will seem counter-intuitive, but I promise that if you stick with it, you will feel better and have a better relationship with your adult daughter. It consists of two simple steps.

Step one: Let go. Let of the past and its mistakes. What’s done is done, and it’s time to view each day as one bright and shiny new. Let go of having to be right or in charge. Let go of any idea that you can “make” your daughter or husband do something. This will be hard, but it will be worth it!

Step two: Rebuild your connection with your daughter. Every day, think of three things you can do for your daughter to show her how much you love her. Do the same for your husband. Read I Corinthians 13 each morning and think about what love is and how to show it. Do this not expecting anything in return or even them to notice. In a week, up it to four things, then five, etc. Write down all the reasons you love your daughter and tell her one a day. Apologize for focusing on the negative. As you build a positive relationship with her, I think some of the things that bothered you won’t bother you as much.

When we focus on the relationship with our adult children over trying to change their behavior, then you’ll find much more success in behavioral changes…because we want to please those with whom we are close.

You won’t be sorry to have a more calm household, a better connection with your daughter (and husband) over being right and in charge.