DEAR AMY: I have spent many years struggling with my older daughter’s attitude toward me (and many others). I have cried, sobbed and ranted (to myself), but I can’t figure out what to do. She is in her mid-30s, and spent her childhood going back and forth between her father and myself. Amicably. We all got along. I am bipolar, and so is she. As she got older, she has changed. She talks to me like I am an idiot, treats me poorly and it hurts. She has a wonderful 10-year-old daughter whom I love, but with the slightest error on my part, she will cut off contact. She is out of contact with her older sister. I love her and want to spend time with her, but I cannot take this much longer without saying something I would later regret. The people she works with love her, and so do her friends. I just want us to get along. Her father passed away three years ago and it darn near did her in, but she wouldn’t accept any help with her grieving. Any ideas? I can’t handle this stress as well as I used to.
DEAR SAD MOM: If you and your daughter both have bipolar disorder, I hope you will use your own insight into the condition to guide your actions and reactions. If your daughter has changed with age, you have likely changed, too. Is there anything you could (or should) do differently? Is she being treated for her bipolar disorder, and if so, is she getting the care she needs and taking meds?
Ranting isn’t called for, but honesty is, and to some extent you have to reach down and serenely let the consequences fall where they may. You cannot control her, or her reactions to you.
Acknowledge your daughter’s challenges. Ask her what changes she would like to see both of you make. And when it’s your turn, tell her that you have certain expectations: that she talk to you respectfully, and treat you the way she does her friends and co-workers. Tell her you are on her side and that you would like to have a positive and healthier relationship.
DEAR AMY: My husband of more than 30 years has erectile dysfunction. When I was overweight I was happy enough not to have relations with him. Now I’ve got control of my health and would like to step it up in the bedroom. He suggests, regularly, that I seek another partner. Besides being hurt by these requests, I’m fine waiting for him. Now he says that if he knew I was seeing someone else, he would not have to take pills because he’d be aroused at the thought. I’m stunned and confused. He’s never been into porn. I don’t know where this is coming from. What should I do?
It Got Complicated
DEAR COMPLICATED: If your husband is aroused at the thought of you being with another man, maybe he can use that fantasy to become sexual with you again. You (and he) imply through his suggestion that his ED isn’t wholly physical.
A counselor could help both of you to talk honestly about your sexual relationship. The way you’re currently communicating about it is not working, and is hurting your emotional connection. More honesty could lead to more intimacy.
DEAR AMY: As a mother of a teenager, I feel the need to respond to “Puzzled in Hartford,” who wondered why kids don’t help their parents around the house. My son occasionally helps around the house by cleaning his room, taking out the garbage and vacuuming when I ask him. However, he does not have time for much else because he spends around 80 percent of his time doing homework. The complexity and amount of homework assigned is substantially greater than what was expected of me when I was his age. As a parent I try to support my son’s education and find ways to help him enjoy his journey. So if he can’t always shovel the snow (which he loves to do by the way), I cut him some slack. He is doing a lot more than I did at his age.
Supportive Mom in Chicago
DEAR SUPPORTIVE MOM: I agree that the amount and complexity of homework for college-bound students is extreme. Some parents and educators are starting to push back on homework, and I agree that rebalancing is a good idea.