Carolyn Hax offers advice to a women frustrated with her mother's behavior.
DEAR CAROLYN: I rarely get a phone call from my mother — maybe once every several months — and never get an email. I’m lucky if she “likes” a Facebook post or sends a text. I’ve tried calling and emailing but usually get no response. She says she’s eager to visit and be a grandmother to my kids, but I don’t see a lot of effort.
For what it’s worth, she divorced my father a few years ago and is trying to have a second adolescence (ditching family for parties, talking of little besides partying and drinking, texting while driving with my children in the car, etc.)
Yes, I realize this is deeper than a tendency to text, but I can’t even make the first steps toward repairing our relationship if all I get is a “like” once in a while. What do you think?
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DEAR ANONYMOUS: You say: “I can’t even make the first steps toward repairing our relationship if all I get is a ‘like’ once in a while.”
I say: You can’t even make the first steps toward repairing your relationship if your mom won’t admit and seek treatment for her drinking problem and the emotional problems underlying it.
CAROLYN: I know there’s a ton of baggage my mother is carrying, and I don’t understand all if it. But she’s my mom and I love her and I want her to be happy. And I want to have a relationship. I just don’t know how to go about it. She won’t seek treatment and I know she really thinks she has done nothing wrong. I guess I just know life is short and I don’t want to regret not repairing the relationship while I had the chance.
— Anonymous again
ANONYMOUS: Of course, I don’t question your motives. But you also need to be realistic about how much of that repair job is really under your control. Al-Anon might be a good next stop for you. Also, as many have written in to say, don’t let Mom drive your kids anymore. Her judgment is too compromised.
CAROLYN: Thank you for calling this situation what it is. I’ve always known my mom has a drinking problem and said as much to my dad a few years ago, but I pushed it out of my mind.
In short, my mother has issues due to a trauma years ago that I don’t know the specifics of (she said something in anger to me as a teenager but didn’t elaborate). No, I haven’t let her drive with my kids in the car since the texting incident, and I never let her spend time with them without my supervision.
I don’t want her to be a cookie-baking grandma, but when she chooses pub crawls over a preplanned trip to visit us — we live in another state — and our conversations revolve around how much partying she’s done without so much as a question about my family, then I get sad. Anyway, thanks so much for giving me clarity and an idea of how to move forward.
— Anonymous … again
You’re welcome, and, again, I’m sorry about your mom. For more information, try the Department of Health and Human Services substance-abuse referral and information line, 800-662-HELP (4357).