lilysea: Serious (Default)
[personal profile] lilysea
DEAR ABBY: I have been friends with a woman for the last 30 years. Our children are the same age. My daughter, who is in her late 20s, has a number of tattoos on her arm that she can cover with clothing if she chooses. However, she doesn't cover them often because she likes them and they mean something to her.

Recently, I showed my friend a picture of my daughter that showed one of the tattoos on her upper arm. My friend said, "Oh, I am so sorry about the tattoo," and proceeded to cover the tattoo with her hand, implying that my daughter would be attractive if it weren't for the body art. I was shocked.

I have always been supportive of my friend's children and have never criticized any of them, even though I haven't agreed with everything they have done. I was so hurt by her comment that I was speechless. I'm not sure I can continue the relationship feeling this way. But I'm hesitant to lose a 30-year friendship over something I might be overblowing. Am I being too sensitive? How do I resolve this? -- COMPLETELY THROWN BY THIS

DEAR THROWN:
For a friendship of 30 years to end over one thoughtless comment would be sad for both of you. Sometimes people say things without thinking, and this is an example. Resolve your feelings by talking to her in person and telling her how deeply hurt you were by what she said. It will give her the chance to apologize and make amends.
minoanmiss: (Default)
[personal profile] minoanmiss
Dear Carolyn: In my childhood, criticism from my parents was the constant theme. My grades were never good enough, my room was never clean enough, whatever. As a result, I feel little to no affection for my parents now that I’m an adult, and I don’t spend much time with them or talk to them much. I just don’t like them very much.

However, some people who know this say I’m going to regret distancing myself from them when they’re gone. Do you think that’s true? Should I make more of an effort to spend more time with them now so I don’t regret it later?

— Criticized


Criticized: Your friends would regret distancing themselves, if they were in your position. That doesn’t mean you will.

So, no, I don’t think that is universally true that distance equals regrets.

However, I do believe that seeing parents as people, instead of just as parents, is a more useful way to determine how to adapt your relationship with them over time.

What you describe of your parents is a child’s view of people who, apparently, thought that being a parent meant being strict and teachy all the time. I agree with you that it’s a cold way to go, and tough to forgive, but there are other aspects of parenthood that could provide a fuller and fairer picture. Were their parents that way with them? Was the culture around them one of “seen and not heard” and “spare the rod” orthodoxy? Did they tend not to question things about life in general, their parenting views among them? Was one of them softer but not strong enough to counteract the other?

And: What did they become after their active child-rearing years were over? Did they remain locked in a cold orthodoxy, or did they bloom a little when the weight of responsibility was removed? Are they trying to get to know you now, or are you still 12 to them?

Do you know them all that well as people, or did you distance yourself effectively enough that your last real impression of them was formed as you fled their home after high school?

I ask these questions entirely without judgment. People have their natural, even reflexive ways of looking out for their own health, and kids of unhappy childhoods can even have this need as their central motivation. It makes sense.

But when you get to the point where you’re asking whether this is the right way to go, my inclination is to suggest that you keep asking questions and see where your inquiry leads you. If you don’t feel up to digging all that out, that’s reasonable. Your prerogative. It might also make sense to spend a few sessions with a skilled therapist.

And it might be liberating just to try, once or twice, with no great expectations, to talk to your parents with a different image of them in mind as you do it.

They’re people. Possibly kind of stunted people who meant no harm but had no clue. People who might have interesting things to say if you asked them different questions, and/or with a different objective in mind. Not “I want them to say they’re sorry” or “I want just once for them to be warm and welcoming,” but maybe “I want to see them how their friends do,” or one of my favorite suggestions from a long-ago chatter, “I want to approach them as an anthropologist would and see what I find out.”
minoanmiss: Girl holding a rainbow-colored oval, because one needs a rainbow icon (Rainbow)
[personal profile] minoanmiss
The comments on this one were particularly lively and contentious. Read more... )
minoanmiss: Theran girl gathering saffron (Saffron-Gatherer)
[personal profile] minoanmiss
My mother recently remarried, and her new husband has a young daughter. My stepsister spends most of her time with her mother, but she spends some weekends and holidays with her dad and my mom. My mother was a decent parent (I’m 22), but she has always been self-involved and insensitive. Whenever I spend time with her and my stepsister, I notice my mom acting in ways that were hurtful to me as a child. I feel I have some responsibility to protect this kid, but when I broach the topic, my mother gets very upset. Should I back off and commiserate with my stepsister when she’s old enough? Or is there a way to talk about this to my mom that will let me help the child in a more immediate way? Name Withheld


Have you made it clear that what you are saying is based in your own experience? If you’ve already done so and she hasn’t changed her behavior, I’m not sure it’s worth insisting. Take consolation in the fact that your stepsister spends less time with your mother than you did (and has her own mother as well), and that you’ll be around to talk it through with her later.
cereta: Ellen from SPN, looking disapproving (Ellen)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR ABBY: I'm 16 and lead a pretty good life. I attend a fantastic school, do well, have lots of friends and am overall happy. I have siblings and a mom who love me. The thing is -- I don't love her. It's not because of "teenage angst"; I just don't like her as a person. I'm polite to her and she doesn't know how I feel. How should I handle this? -- CONCERNED DAUGHTER IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR CONCERNED DAUGHTER: I think you should "handle it" by keeping your trap shut. Not every mother likes/loves her daughter all the time either, but the feeling usually passes. Consider this: Because you have so many positive things going on in your life, your mother may have had something to do with it, so try to be a little less judgmental.

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