DEAR READERS: Your questions and dilemmas never take a holiday, but occasionally I must. This week's "best of" columns come from deep within the Ask Amy vault.
DEAR AMY: Recently I was in my 16-year-old daughter's room, where I thumbed through what I thought was a sketchbook. In fact it was a diary/journal, and although I know I should have closed it, I read the last entry. It was written after we had a quarrel, which I thought on a 1 to 10 scale to be about a 3. In it she called me her "G -- D-- Mother" and said she wished I would stay away from her and that she is only happy with her friends. I was shocked because I thought that we always had a much-better-than-average relationship and was hurt by the amount of anger she had toward me. In the past any angry barbs that came my way I just brushed off as teenage angst, but now I wonder if it is more personal. She is in general a great kid and has spared me any other worries. Any suggestions?
-- Mom in a Muddle
DEAR MOM: I ran this question past my own 16-year-old daughter. She quickly reminded me that diaries are full of exaggeration and are never meant to be read by anyone else. She thinks that if you tell your daughter you read her diary, she might find this violation of her privacy unforgivable. Right.
Though I agree with my daughter on this, I feel your pain. One of the burdens of motherhood is that your kids can hurt you, and you still have to soldier on and be the mom.
If your daughter's out-loud outbursts or angry barbs include the sort of language she used in her diary, or if she seems particularly or chronically upset, sad or angry, then I think you really need to try to get to the bottom of it. Teenage angst and all -- it's not normal, and it's certainly not acceptable, for kids to heap abuse on their parents.
That's what diaries are for. (2004)