Hostile Daughter - the Beginning of the Electra complex?
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
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.
Ben Schwarcz, MFTSanta Rosa Psychotherapist
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