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HomeNewsAsk Amy: Now is the time to commit to parenting.

Ask Amy: Now is the time to commit to parenting.


Dear Amy, I have a very difficult and stressful relationship with my mother and I don’t know what to do about it.

Now I am 19 years old.

My mother is an addict and an alcoholic, and she missed out on much of my early childhood because of it.

When I was around eight years old, she finally got sober, but she still has a multitude of psychological problems, most likely stemming from years of substance abuse, and never really grew up.

She only thought of herself. She hurt me over and over again. She left her mothering duties aside and was not there for me.

I finally had enough when he missed my high school graduation last year. Then he lied to me about why he missed it (turns out he was home the whole time).

I tried to tell him how much this had hurt me. In response, she cried, got involved in drama, felt sorry for herself, and essentially told me that she was giving up on our relationship because she “she’s always wrong.”

I begged her to try to change, for me, but it seems like she’d rather wallow in her own pain and cry because I hate her so much.

I don’t hate her; I wish he would try harder so we could spend the rest of our lives together.

I haven’t seen her in almost a year and I haven’t spoken to her for months. I’m completely lost, and I have no idea how to deal with this.

– Lost, confused and sad daughter

Dear Daughter, You are the daughter of an addict and have taken on the heavy burden that your mother’s addiction has placed on you.

And like many children of addicted and narcissistic parents, you would very much like to force your parents to change, so that you can have the kind of healthy parent-child relationship you long for.

Unfortunately, your mother does not want to, nor can she, change for you.

However, you can change, and this change must be aimed at ensuring your own future health and happiness and accepting the lousy hand you’ve been played, as well as its limitations.

Your mother’s erratic and disappointing behavior has taught you to take responsibility for the outcome, but you need to find ways to let go of this heavy backpack you’ve been carrying.

Every human being longs for love and steadfastness, and you will find it, but probably not with your mother.

The time has come for you to commit to raising yourself (and I have a feeling you will do very well).

Engaging in trusting and emotionally healthy relationships with others will also help you heal.

I suggest you join a “friends and family” support group such as Al-anon or Adult Children of Alcoholics (AdultsChildren.org), and also read “Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: Healing from Distant, Rejecting, or Selfish Parents,” by clinical psychologist Lindsay C. Gibson (2015) New Harbinger.

Dear Amy, My daughter is engaged to her college boyfriend. Now they are living together.

Although my daughter’s income is substantially less than his, he insists that she pay 50 percent of his expenses. She is starting to fall behind and is going into debt to keep up.

I would like to know your thoughts.

– Concerned father

Dear Interested Person, I wonder why your daughter’s fiancé has the power to decide and dictate your household finances.

If you are contemplating a marriage where you will be true partners, then these important issues should be mutually negotiated and decided, not dictated by a partner.

If you’re managing your money responsibly but can’t afford to live by these terms, then something needs to change. Ultimately, it is extremely expensive to be in debt.

My biggest point is that this is a red flag. The pressure of being in debt will add to the pressure of being with a partner who (at least from this point of view) seems controlling.

Dear Amy, Like other readers, I was horrified by your response to “Anonymous,” the reader who complained about kids “out in the open” at family events.

These parents are not just lazy, they are neglectful. I can’t believe you defended them!

– Upset

Dear Upset, After warning about the risks and dangers of children running “outdoors” in other people’s homes, I stood up for these parents.

Anonymous did not mention that these children were rude or disruptive to others, only that they were allowed to run on their own.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @asking either Facebook.)

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