Amy, an adult daughter, is under the burden of trying to connect with a shady mom
Dear Amy: I grew up with a mom who I could never trust to reliably show up.
She was an alcoholic until I was 7 and I spent time with my father and her while she went through relationships with several men.
She had a sober period from when I was 7 until I became 13, and then she remarried and had two more children.
I was no longer invited home after I graduated from college, and this continued even after my marriage. She rarely called and was very busy with my half-siblings. There was always an excuse for why she couldnt see me.
She would cancel at the last minute to see a friend or make it difficult to make long-term plans. If I didnt start the conversation, I wouldnll never see her again.
Now my children are teenagers, and they dont even know her at all.
Throughout their childhoods, she never invited them over. She never invites us to Christmas with my stepdad and half-siblings for Christmas parties.
I feel like it has always been my job to try to establish a relationship with her.
I often feel it as an extra burden, with a heavy burden attached. Am I right to feel this way?
I have always wanted strong and involved grandparents, but I dont really know what is normal.
When Ive told my mom that I would like for her to come up with something to do with my children, shes just said that she cant.
Am I justified to feel burdened and frustrated?
Shes not that old; she is strong, drives, and cares for others in her community.
Ive long wished for close family connections, but feel like my efforts have not materialized or been recognized.
How do I find the connection Ive always wanted?
Distressed Discardeted - Disappointe d
You question your own feelings, which is what people do when they have experienced chaos and dislocation in childhood. Childhood is when humans learn to live and feel their true feelings. Competent, sober, and reliable parents guide children through this process. In your own childhood, you were denied this and much more - in your lifetime.
One way to discover the connection youve longed for since childhood is to continue to nurture this connection with your own children.
You are the surviving adult child of an alcoholic, and if your children grow into adulthood knowing their own mother to be the steady, reliably loving parent that you never had, youve successfully broken the chain.
You will not receive this nurturing from your mother. She cannot give what she does not have. Learning to release your own expectations (without guilt) will be beneficial for you.
You'd be in great company if you were to connect with others through an Adult Children of Alcoholics group. Check adultchildren.org for more information and meetings.
Dear Amy, Im responding to your question in your article, Guilty Bystander, written by an adult who was notified of a rumor about octogenarian male high school teacher having sex with an underage female student.
As the retired head of Health Education at a large urban capitol city school system in the United States and with more than three decades of teaching experience on my resume, I can undoubtedly agree with your advice to Bystander, who raised the issue of their role in reporting what may prove to be savage, life-changing criminal act.
If the treatment of our Team USA gymnasts has taught us anything, I would like to see that we begin to realize that it is everyones responsibility to speak up.
These young girls and women were abused by a monster for many years, and they were not protected by any institution, including FBI investigators.
If you dont speak up, you are more a part of the problem than merely assisting the solution.
A (former) Mandated Reporter A(form) Reporting Officer
Dear Reporter: None of the gymnast survivors of Dr. Larry Nassars abuse consented to this behavior, but the implication from Guilty Bystander was that this (rumored) sexual relationship between teacher and underage student was thought to be consensual.
However, as I mentioned in my response, there is a reason why the law favors establishing 'a legal age of consent'. The power difference between adult and underage person, or teacher and student, can very easily result in exploitation.
Ive spoken from many people who have expressed concerns about the rights of a teacher who may be slandered for doing so. I understand this concern, but adults have the duty to report, and institutions must investigate.
You may contact Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.