Amy, an adult daughter, is enduring the burden of trying to connect with a shady mom
Dear Amy: I grew up with a mother who I could never trust to reliably show up.
I was 7 years old when my mother was an alcoholic and I spent time with her while she had several relationships with men. She was a smoker until I turned 7.
She had a sober period from the time I was 7 to the age of 13, then she remarried and had two more children.
I was no longer invited home when I graduated, and this continued even after I got married. She rarely called and was very busy with my half-siblings. There was always an excuse as to why she couldnt see me.
She would cancel at the last minute to see a friend or make it difficult to establish solid plans. I would never see her if I hadnt begun getting together.
My kids are now teens, and they dont even know her at all.
Throughout their childhoods, she never invited them over. She never invites us for Christmas celebrations with my stepdad and half-siblings.
I feel like it has been my job to establish a relationship with her.
I often feel it as an extra burden with a lot of guilt attached. Am I right to feel this way?
I have always wished for loving and involved grandparents, but I really dont know what that is.
When Ive told my mom that I'd like her to try and figure out something for my children, shes just said that she can't.
Am I justified in feeling burdened and frustrated?
Shes not that old, but shere capable, drives, and cares about others in her community.
Ive long wanted to establish close family connections, but I feel like my efforts havent paid off or been reciprocated.
How do I find that connection Ive longed for?
Dear Distressed: You may ask yourself whether or not you feel loved or cherished, which is what children do when theyve experienced chaos and dislocation in childhood. Childhood is the period when humans learn to live and express their authentic feelings. Competent, sober, and trustworthy parents guide children through this process. You were denied this and much more - in your own childhood.
One way to find that connection youve longed for since childhood is to maintain 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, however. She cannot give what she does not have. Learning to release your own expectations (without guilt) will be helpful for you.
You'd be in good company from a group for Adult Children of Alcoholics. Check adultchildren.org for information and meetings.
Dear Amy: Im responding to the question in your article on Guilty Bystander, written by an adult who had become aware of a rumor regarding sexy relations between heiresses in her high school and an underage female student.
As the retired head of Health Education at a major urban capitol city school system in the United States, and with over three decades of teaching experience on my resume, I can unambiguously agree with your advice to Bystander, who asked about their role in reporting what may prove to be deemed to have been sexism.
If the depravity of our Team USA gymnasts has taught us anything, I would like us to learn that it is everyones responsibility to speak up.
These vulnerable girls and young women were abused over the course of many years by a monster, and they were not protected by any institution, including FBI investigators.
If you dont speak up, you are part of the problem rather than the solution.
A (former) Mandated Reporter A A(formers)
Dear Reporter: None of the gymnast survivors of Dr. Larry Nassars abuse consented to this behavior, while 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 reply, there is a reason the law supports establishing sexism as an age of consent. The power imbalance between adult and underage person or teacher and student - can very easily result in exploitation.
Ive listened to many people express concern about the rights of a teacher who may be wrongly accused. I understand this worry, but adults have the duty to report, and institutions must investigate.
You may contact Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.