Dear Amy: I grew up with a mother who I could never trust to reliably “introduce herself”.
She was an alcoholic until I was 7 and I went back and forth between her and my father while she was in relationships with several men.
She had a period of abstinence from the age of 7 until the age of 13, then remarried and had two more children.
Once I went to college, I was no longer invited to the house, and it continued even after I got married.
She rarely called and was very busy with my half-siblings. There was always an excuse for her not to see me.
She would cancel at the last minute to see a friend or make it very difficult to make solid plans. If I hadn’t initiated the meeting, I would never see it.
Now my kids are teenagers and they don’t know her at all.
Throughout their childhood, she never invited them. She never invites us over for Christmas with my stepfather and half-siblings.
I feel like it was my job to try and maintain a relationship with her.
I often feel it as an added burden – with a heavy guilt attached to it. Am I right to feel this?
I have always wanted supportive and involved grandparents, but I really don’t know what is normal.
When I told my mom that I would like her to maybe come up with something to do with my kids, she just said she couldn’t.
Am I right to feel overwhelmed and frustrated?
She’s not that old; she is capable, leading and caring for others in her community.
I have longed for close family ties, but I feel that my efforts have not been successful or have not been reciprocated.
How can I find this connection that I dreamed of?
– In distress
Dear afflicted: You question your own feelings, what people do when they experienced chaos and dislocation as children. Childhood is when humans learn to inhabit and express their genuine feelings. Competent, sober and reliable parents guide children through this process. It was denied to you – and much more – in your own childhood.
One way to find the bond you’ve longed for since childhood is to continue to nurture that bond with your own children.
You are the surviving adult child of an alcoholic, and if your children grow up knowing that their own mother is the stable, loving parent you never had, then you triumphantly broke the chain.
Unfortunately, you will not receive this care from your mother. She can’t give what she doesn’t have. Learning to release your own expectations (without guilt) will be liberating for you.
You would benefit from coming into contact with others through a group of adult alcoholic children. Check out adultchildren.org for information and meetings.
Dear Amy: I am answering the question in your column of “Guilty Bystander”, written by an adult who had heard of a rumor about a teacher in his high school who had allegedly had sex with an underage student.
As the retired director of health education for a large urban capital school system in the United States and with over three decades of teaching in my resume, I can unequivocally agree with your advice to Bystander, who asked about their role in reporting what could turn out to be a serious and upsetting criminal act.
If we have learned anything from the horrible treatment of our Team USA gymnasts, I hope we are starting to learn that it is everyone’s responsibility to speak up.
These vulnerable girls and young women were abused for many years by a monster, and they were not protected by any institution, including FBI investigators.
If you don’t speak up, you are part of the problem rather than the solution.
– A (former) appointed rapporteur
Dear journalist: None of the gymnasts surviving the abuse of Dr Larry Nassar consented to this behavior, while the implication of “Guilty Bystander” was that this sexual relationship (rumor) between the teacher and the minor student was considered to be. consensual.
However, as I pointed out in my response, there is a reason the law supports a legal age of consent. The power differential between an adult and a minor – or a teacher and a student – can very easily lead to exploitation.
I have heard many people worry about the rights of a teacher who could be wrongly accused. I understand this concern, but adults have a duty to report, and institutions must investigate.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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