Annie’s Mailbox: 40-year-old daughter creating family rifts
January 5, 2010
Dear Annie: How do you deal with a married 40-year-old daughter with two children who is so jealous of her brothers that she causes family rifts? Right now, "Claire" isn't speaking to her father, her brothers or me. We don't understand it. We always have treated our children the same.
Last May, Claire and her younger brother got into an argument about a birthday dinner for me. She told him she wants to be left alone and hasn't spoken to any of us since. I sent her young son a check for his birthday in August, and it has yet to be cashed or acknowledged.
Claire never was like this until she married, and I'm not sure how to deal with it. Please help.
— Sad Sue
Dear Sad Sue: Is Claire's husband influencing her relationships negatively or encouraging a family rift? Some husbands (and wives) isolate their spouses from family members in an effort to control them. It's also possible Claire has harbored ill will toward her brothers for years and finally let it out.
Make an effort to mend fences in a neutral way. Call, write or e-mail and say you've missed her. Ask how the grandchildren are. If she replies and gets upset, offer to go with her for family counseling to see if you can find a way to make her happier. If you approach it in a way that indicates her feelings are valid, she is more likely to respond. If she doesn't answer your calls or messages, consider counseling for yourself. Having an estranged child can cause its own emotional problems.
Dear Annie: For several years, I stored a few of my belongings in my parents' attic because I had a small apartment. This included a collection of horse models that had become vintage and valuable. Unfortunately, I recently discovered that my mother often loaned pieces of my collection to other people's children without asking my permission. Mind you, it took effort for her to do this since she had to climb the attic stairs and crawl around up there.
My mother is good at crossing boundaries, and this violation made me feel hurt and angry. Am I off base to think nothing of mine should have been touched without my permission, or does the fact that my things were in their attic allow them to loan them without my knowledge? In other words, whose property is it?
— Memphis Belle
Dear Memphis: If your parents bought these items for you, they may feel proprietary toward them and assume they can loan them out as they please. However, the collection of models belongs to you, and your mother should not have allowed them to be used by others without asking you. We trust all the loaned items have been returned and you have since removed your things from her attic.
Dear Annie: I agree with "Doctor in California" that the media definitely put their own spin on medications, making some people afraid to use them. Here's a different problem:
My family was watching a movie Saturday night. My 3-year-old daughter was playing around and jumping on the couch, and she ended up hurting herself. My husband picked her up and was consoling her when a commercial for Cymbalta came on, showing a young woman crying, sad and alone. It then shows the same woman taking Cymbalta and being full of energy and having fun with her family. My crying daughter turns around and tells her daddy she wants Cymbalta so she can be happy again.
Two days later, when she didn't get her way, she threw a tantrum and started screaming, "Did my daddy get my Cymbalta? I'm very upset!" This time, I couldn't help but laugh.
— Mom of an Unhappy Toddler
Dear Mom: Funny, yes, but also a little disturbing.