Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR READERS: I’ve stepped away from my column for a week while I put the finishing touches on my new book, which will be published in the fall. Please enjoy these “Best Of” columns in my absence. I’ll be back with your fresh questions and answers next week.
DEAR AMY: I am the mother of a 14-year-old girl. We are both smart, accomplished, athletic and attractive — and she has always looked up to me. I’ve stressed to her the importance of being strong and independent. A couple of weeks ago, with my husband gone on a short business trip, my daughter and I went to the mall, and upon arriving home we walked in on someone burglarizing our house. My daughter shoved the man, and even though it was two-against-one, he was big and appeared ready to pummel her, so I went into protective mode, pulling my daughter back and telling him to take what he wanted and leave us alone. He gagged and bound us hand and foot and left us on the floor. I felt a wave of relief that we hadn’t been harmed. We struggled to get free but couldn’t. My husband came back from his trip in the early hours of the morning and found us. My daughter bore up well and didn’t even shed a tear. After we were untied, however, it quickly became apparent that my daughter was more than a bit peeved with me. She felt that the two of us should have fought instead of allowing him to tie us up, and that my lectures on strength and independence were just hot air. I’ve lost much of her confidence and, even worse, I know that at age 14 I would have felt exactly as she does. The fact that the police complimented me in front of her had little effect. How can I begin to restore my daughter’s faith in me?
DEAR TIED UP: Your daughter’s anger is completely natural, and she is pointing it toward the only person that 14-year-old girls know to blame for anything (including how their hair looks and the barometric pressure) — Mom.
One of my favorite television shows is “Veronica Mars.” Veronica is a plucky teenager who works with her father as a private investigator. One of the things I like most about the show is that the heroine spends a fair amount of time running — away. She doesn’t fight the bad guys because it simply isn’t wise to do so.
The time to fight with all of your might is when someone is trying to take you to another location — by forcing you into a vehicle, for instance. You made a quick and mature calculation based on many terrifying variables. You and your daughter are proof that you did the right thing in this situation. How do you know this? You’re still here. You need to help your daughter to focus her anger on the appropriate person — the bad guy.
You should both see a therapist to work through this right away. The fact that your daughter hasn’t expressed emotion over this is a sign that she may need some help to process what has happened. You have been victims of a serious crime. You did the right thing. The police can tell you, and I can repeat it, but you (and she) must find a way to believe it. (February 2007)
DEAR AMY: Three years ago, I was about to get married. We had a shower but then the wedding was called off. I returned all of the gifts. I’m now engaged to someone else. We have lived together for about a year. Our families want to give us a bridal shower, but we don’t see the point in registering somewhere because we already have everything. My mother doesn’t like the idea of a money shower. What can we do as a couple, and what can our families do for a shower?
DEAR NICOLE: If you don’t want a shower, there is no reason to have a one. (I agree with your mother about a “money shower.”)
Your family could host an engagement party at which your friends and family could get together, enjoy one another’s company and congratulate you without doing the whole gift thing. I highly recommend this form of celebration, without the pressure of giving — or receiving — gifts.
Make sure that you note, “No gifts, please” when people inquire. (February 2007)