Originally Published: August 5, 2017 6:03 a.m.
Dear Annie: I have an 11-year-old daughter who has ADHD. Most of the time we are able to control her behaviors and impulsiveness with medication. I have learned over the years to pick my battles with her behaviors.
My mom recently told me about a family reunion coming up. I told her that I would not be attending. Being surrounded by large groups of people tends to overwhelm my daughter and makes her behaviors worse. A lot of the family that is going to be there I haven’t seen in probably 20 years. Though I would like to see some of them, I don’t feel it’s fair to force my daughter into a situation that is very uncomfortable for her.
I suggested getting a babysitter so I could attend, but my mom is saying that I’m not welcome without my daughter because I’m letting her dictate my life. According to my mom, I am to make my daughter go and make her behave. How can I tell my mom that with that many people it’s just too stressful for my daughter and that she has not yet learned the skills to deal with all that anxiety? I’m conflicted. I want to be able to see my family and do what’s right for my daughter, too. — Torn in Wisconsin
Dear Torn in Wisconsin: It sounds as if Grandmother is trying to play Mother. It’s up to you to decide what’s best for your daughter. If you’re at all open to it, ask your daughter if she would like to go for a little while and meet everyone, and have a babysitter with you in case she feels overwhelmed and needs to leave. If you’d rather not try that, I say leave your daughter with a sitter and go to the reunion anyway. Your mother is not the only person who will be there. I’m sure your other family members will welcome you with open arms.
Dear Annie: I would like to reiterate your advice to “Motherless in the Midwest,” whose mother seems to hate her. I hope that your sentence, “Your mom has her limitations, for whatever reason; this is as much as she can give you,” resonated with the writer so that she can find peace.
My mother was verbally and physically abusive. I severed the relationship in my early 20s despite all my friends saying, “But she’s your mother!”
The anger I carried controlled my life until my early 40s, when, through counseling, I finally accepted that my mother did the best she knew — as she was abused as a child. However, I wouldn’t keep a friend who treated me as my mother did, so it was the right decision for me to walk away and finally let go of all the hurt and disappointment.
I’m happy to say that I have done much better with my own daughter — not without our own struggles -- but we have a very close relationship. — Been There, Too
Dear Been There, Too: In the face of persistent toxic behavior, detachment is often the best and only option. Though I’m sure it wasn’t easy, I’m glad you were able to make the right decision for yourself and forge a healthier relationship with your own daughter. I’m printing your letter here for anyone trying to find the courage to do as you did.
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