Hostile Daughter - the Beginning of the Electra complex?

by Dalia
(near Sudan)

Hi,

I am a mother of 48 with three kids. Two girls and a boy. The oldest has just turned 18 this month. She suddenly turned from a very nice girl to an aggressive person who tries to stir troubles between me and my husband who is also her father. The difference of age between me and her father is 20 years. In the past, her comments like "I want to marry someone exactly like you" did not alert me in any way. However, what she has been doing with the father completely shocked me. She has been igniting the jealousy feelings of her father against me and right enough I had a big rift between me and my husband over what she has been telling him in her own way. He started to take her to supermarkets to make the house shopping and gave her the responsibility of taking care of her younger sister who is 7 and more or less running the house instead of me. While he completely refrained from speaking with me without telling me the reason of his anger, she would pass by me singing and laughing loudly to assert her new role in the house. I was completely silent most of the time and just watching what was happening.

Next, my husband moved from our bedroom to an upstairs room where he furnished it with my daughter's help to be his new premises with all his belongings. I buried myself in my work and waited this to resolve by itself. But unfortunately, the daughter started to sleep in the same room where he slept along with my 7 year old who is very attached to him. This has been going on for more than 2 months now until lately when he started to make me angry and get on my nerves by interfering with the house maids who serve the house and kicking out the ones I have trained and am comfortable with.

I have started to rage and scolded her a couple of times. She moved to my mother's house with his consent (in the past he would never allow her to sleep outside the house).

I have tried to speak with my husband about what is making him so angry- he made no sense at all. But what I gathered is that whatever suspicions he had in his mind came from my own daughter.

And now I am wondering ? is she starting an Electra Complex? And what can I do about it?
Thanks a lot,
Dalia

Ben's Answer:

The "Electra Complex" like Freud's Oedipus Complex, is associated with early childhood sexual development. It's natural for a young child to feel attracted and attached to the opposite sex parent and for a time, to reject or show hostility towards the same sex parent. This conflict normally resolves as the child finally identifies with the same-sex parent.

Your 18 year old daughter may seem to be in that phase - but she is not a young child - she's a young woman. She may be rebelling against you, her mother, in the typical way that adolescents often need to rebel and assert their individuality with their parents (though perhaps she's a bit late in going through that phase). If her father is being a push-over, not asserting healthy boundaries with her, not supporting his partner (you), and being an allied parental unit - then she might easily manipulate and use him to get what she wants, while vilanizing and abusing you.

If anyone needs to be accountable here, it's really her father first and foremost. Without his support, it seems that your daughter is "splitting" - making him the "good guy" and you the "bad guy." And he's playing right into that by joining with her in shunning you.

I think your focus should be on resolving this with him, not focused on fixing your daughter's attitude. When you and her father are in harmony with one another, she will change her behavior.

Take Care,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherapist


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Comments for Hostile Daughter - the Beginning of the Electra complex?

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Apr 27, 2015
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Step parent
by: Anonymous

My ex fiances daughter who was 12 at the time used to wander into the bathro when he father was showering. I told her it wasn't appropriate but she just said she'd seen him naked heaps of times before. He spoke to her about it after I said it wasn't right but she persisted. She also touched her father by stroking his legs, arms, back and head and always had to sit very close to him on the couch. When I said that wasn't normal behaviour he told me I was sick. She would also in jest just about every night threaten to stab me while I slept.

Jan 25, 2013
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my 32 year old daughter made my life a living hell
by: Anonymous

my daughter has been going thru this for the last 24 years, and I am done!!!! she has destroyed my personal relationships every chance she got and firmly believes that I am totally to blame for everything she does bad in life and emulates her father( he beat me and my children for years) as if he had never done anything wrong. She also believes that I have to be at her beck and call, and uses my grandchildren as a tool of control over me. I am the parent and have decided to keep her out of my life for the rest of my life. I can't be around her anymore, I'M DONE.

Nov 04, 2010
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Hostile Daughter
by: Anonymous

since my wife's passing recently, my daughter has changed her attitude towards me her father, I don't really know why but, it appears she has become very dominant and insulting. Most conversations has her giving me many innuendoes.

I am now her subservient and she has me under her control and feel that she is playing the head of household and I have no alternative but, to obey or she will leave living in my house. I fear living alone due to advance years and she is aware of same.

I have opened joint account with her name on same.So, therfore, I thought perhaps this will make things better but to no avail. She has indicated that if I don't agree with her decisions I will end up in assisted living and if incapacitated a nursing home.

A will has been prepared making her the Executor and have full"Power of Attorney. She is the sole heir and will receive all real estate and liquid assets.

The odd thing about this crisis is that one would expect support and asiistance instead od hostility.I feel perhaps this is because of her loose lifestyle and is now dumping same on me because of a guilt complex. She and her mother were similar in nature and I was not privy to most of what was happening. My job had me working many nights per year and house in disaray when coming home weekend mormings. To tired to make inquiry and would fall asleep.

Ben's Response
I suggest that you avail yourself of some free legal assistance from your local department of health (there is usually a division set up to provide legal/counseling assistance to elderly citizens). This situation potentially constitutes elder abuse. When an elder is taken advantage of financially, bullied, coerced, manipulated or in any way threatened this way, it can be considered "fiduciary abuse" (as well as emotional abuse). There are laws to protect people in your position. But if you are letting her share your bank account, willing your estate to her and giving her power of attorney - you are voluntarily giving up all of your power and your rights. You don't have to do that! But you need someone to advise you properly on these matters. Please consider this.

I wish you the best,

Ben Schwarcz, MFT

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