DEAR AMY: We adopted our daughter “Laura” as a newborn. She is now in college. Laura located her birth mother “Cassie” two years ago. Cassie lives about 45 minutes from our home and is now married with children. Cassie emails Laura frequently. She asks about school, offers advice and always asks about her plans when she is home. There is a familiar pattern in that Cassie contacts Laura by email before a school holiday and indicates that they can meet. Laura provides the dates she will be home, then hears nothing further until the date she is returning to school, at which time Cassie expresses regret that they did not meet. Twice they have made plans and Cassie has canceled on the actual day, claiming she had a headache, no baby-sitter, etc. Laura is excited and then devastated when plans are canceled. I sent Cassie an email last year and told her that this is causing Laura pain and anxiety. I asked her to please let me know whether she wishes to meet Laura, and if not, I would explain it to her myself as kindly as possible. I offered to meet Cassie for a cup of coffee, and thanked her for allowing us to raise such a beautiful girl. Cassie assured me that she wants to meet Laura. I don’t know whether Cassie has her own issues, or is playing some kind of game. If this were another girl, I would tell Laura to block her from social media and move away from this relationship. Please let me know what you would do in my place.
DEAR FRUSTRATED: In your place, I would do exactly as you have done.
An important component to parenting older children is to willingly turn over control of their lives to them. This is especially challenging when you see your child embroiled in a troubling relationship.
You cannot suggest that “Laura” give up on her quest to know her biological mother. You can, however, help her to manage her own anxiety, disappointment and heartbreak over this woman’s behavior.
It is possible that “Cassie” has not told her family about this adoption. She may set meetings as deadlines for herself to disclose this, and then chicken out when the date arrives and she hasn’t done so.
Let it lie, and let Laura talk to you about it when she needs to. I think it is best to do so without speculating about or judging Cassie’s behavior.
Your daughter is learning that what people do is more important than what they say. She may have to get burned a few more times before she decides to create her own boundary around this relationship.
DEAR AMY: I have a friend, “Steve,” who has been a close friend since childhood. Recently several female friends told me that Steve has been making rude, disrespectful comments to them, in person and through text messages. I have been present for some of these comments, seen the text messages and agree they are completely inappropriate. These women no longer want to spend time with Steve. I am conflicted about if/how this should affect my own friendship with him. As a man, I have never been on the receiving end of these comments. To me, Steve has always been a supportive, kind, enduring friend. I assumed he treated everyone this way. I find it hard to believe that he could act with genuine malice, and I suspect his comments might stem from social anxiety or ignorance. I am considering speaking to him about this, to make him aware of how he comes off to women. Is it my place to do so? Or should I leave it alone and continue with this friendship, despite his behavior toward others?
DEAR UNSURE: If your closest friends won’t tell you the truth about yourself, then who will?
You should be completely honest with “Steve,” offering specific examples, and give him your own version of, “Dude. No.”
I can’t imagine continuing a friendship with someone who treats women so badly, but Steve may be receptive to your perspective on his behavior, and may choose to change.
DEAR AMY: “Worried” was a young woman who complained that during visits, her grandmother talked about herself nonstop. This can be a sign of hearing loss. People with hearing loss sometimes don’t ask questions because they won’t be able to hear the answers. They fill the space with talk to mask their own problem.
DEAR AIDED: This is a possibility. Thank you.