Adult daugh­ter crit­i­cizes mom — for every­thing

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - LIFE - AMY DICKINSON Email: askamy@tri­bune.com Twit­ter: @ask­ingamy

Dear Amy: I need some help with my old­est daugh­ter. I di­vorced their fa­ther when my girls were un­der the age of five. My ex was an al­co­holic and heavy smoker who was — at best — spotty with child sup­port.

I was a great earner and pro­vided for the girls. We had din­ner to­gether ev­ery night and I never missed an ac­tiv­ity. Their fa­ther died three years ago from lung can­cer. Both daugh­ters are suc­cess­ful and do­ing well, but my old­est, at 34, is still un­mar­ried and very un­happy about it.

This daugh­ter crit­i­cizes me end­lessly. End­lessly. If I ad­just a be­hav­iour that bothers her, she picks some­thing else to rag on me about. Hon­estly, it’s ex­haust­ing. I find my­self com­mu­ni­cat­ing with her less of­ten, and mostly by text. I can’t have a con­ver­sa­tion with her — even through text — about any­thing without a jab. We share an Ama­zon Prime video ac­count and she will even cri­tique my choices about what I watch!

I am close to her best friend, and I will text this friend be­fore I do my daugh­ter, who then gets in­sulted and comes af­ter me for THAT.

I find all of this dis­re­spect­ful. As a par­ent, I’m sure I made mis­takes but I don’t think I de­serve this con­stant dress­ing down.

It’s al­most as if the roles are re­versed and she is now rais­ing ME! I have a good job, a nice hus­band whom she likes, a lovely home, friends, etc.

I’m not sure what she gets from abus­ing me, and even though I want a re­la­tion­ship with her, it is be­com­ing just too hard to take. Your ad­vice? — PUT DOWN MOM Dear Mom: You men­tion that your daugh­ter’s treat­ment is a sort of role re­ver­sal, in that she is now act­ing like a par­ent to you.

This is a prob­lem. If you see de­grad­ing treat­ment as some­how “parental,” then per­haps there is some­thing to your own par­ent­ing which might have con­trib­uted to this be­hav­iour. It’s some­thing to think about.

One bonus of hav­ing adult chil­dren is that par­ents can ex­pect their chil­dren to (fi­nally) be­have like adults.

Is this treat­ment that you would tol­er­ate from any other adult? I doubt it. And so you should not tol­er­ate it from your own daugh­ter.

Why are you shar­ing an Ama­zon Prime ac­count? Why are you com­mu­ni­cat­ing with her best friend? These are two choices that you could quickly change.

You should stop ad­just­ing your own be­hav­iour to please her. Con­vey that if she wants to have an ac­tive re­la­tion­ship with you, she will have to ad­just her own be­hav­iour.

Dear Amy: I taught my chil­dren to write thank you cards af­ter re­ceiv­ing gifts for birthdays, hol­i­days or what­ever the oc­ca­sion. My grown chil­dren, our par­ents and sib­lings have car­ried on this tra­di­tion of thought­ful eti­quette. How­ever, we also send gifts to sev­eral nieces and neph­ews (and their chil­dren), who live out of town. We don’t re­ceive a thank you note, email, phone call, text ... noth­ing.

Some live great dis­tances away and we won­der if the packages even ar­rived. I have emailed a niece who lives in Europe to see if my pack­age ar­rived for her fam­ily of four ... and then she replied “yes, and thanks.”

I en­joy gift-giv­ing, but I do want a thank you, by note, email, call or even a text. Is this too much to ex­pect?

I’m tempted to dis­con­tinue gift-giv­ing to these rel­a­tives or per­haps send­ing them thank you notes and stamps as Christ­mas gifts next year as a hint. Do oth­ers ex­pe­ri­ence this? Am I ex­pect­ing too much? What do you think? — GIFT-GIVER Dear Gift-giver: This is a peren­nial is­sue. Yes, a gift should be ac­knowl­edged and you should be thanked. If you give a gift in per­son and the per­son thanks you in per­son, they needn’t fol­low up with writ­ten thanks.

Any­one re­ceiv­ing a gift in the mail should ac­knowl­edge it via any of the nu­mer­ous ways we have of con­nect­ing with one another these days.

If you have to chase down re­cip­i­ents, then this is a sign that they don’t nec­es­sar­ily value your ef­forts.

Dear Amy: I am mar­ried to a kind, won­der­ful, in­tel­li­gent man from another coun­try. We go to his home coun­try to visit fam­ily at least once a year.

They make me feel very wel­come, but soon end up re­vert­ing to their na­tive lan­guage, which I do not un­der­stand at all, for most con­ver­sa­tions.

It makes me feel left out and ig­nored. I have voiced my feel­ings (many times) to my hus­band. While I un­der­stand that this can be ha­bit­ual be­cause it is, of course, their first lan­guage, it hurts my feel­ings to be sit­ting in a room full of peo­ple — ALL of whom speak English per­fectly — and be pur­posely left out, even when sit­ting right next to my hus­band.

I have asked re­peat­edly that he speak English while I am present, but it doesn’t end up that way.

I find it to be ex­tremely rude and hurt­ful. This is the only con­flict we have.

As a re­sult, I am now dread­ing another visit, and am ac­tu­ally think­ing of hav­ing him travel alone this time. Do you have any sug­ges­tions on how to han­dle this? — LEFT OUT Dear Left Out: It is un­der­stand­able for peo­ple to speak their na­tive lan­guage when they are in their home coun­try and talk­ing with other na­tive speak­ers. You do this ev­ery sin­gle day. How did your hus­band cope with this alien­ation? He learned English!

The ob­vi­ous so­lu­tion is for you to make a con­certed ef­fort to learn your hus­band’s lan­guage. I as­sume your in-laws would be hon­ored, and your com­pre­hen­sion would shoot up, even if your abil­ity to speak lagged.

Un­til then, you should ask and then re­mind (in a good-na­tured way and in their lan­guage), “Oh please, can you speak English? I don’t want to miss any­thing!”

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