Dear Annie: When our daughter was a child, she had emotional issues and extensive anger management problems. With tremendous concern and love, we got her professional support and therapy, and ultimately, our daughter learned the skills to control herself. What we did not do was tell extended family members of these private problems. We had seen their extreme intolerance for any kind of mental health issues and did not want our daughter to suffer prejudice from her own family.
The next few years included troubling breakups with both friends and boyfriends, extreme weight loss and talk of suicide.
Our daughter is now 32 and recently married. She suddenly and inexplicably has cut us off. When we try to communicate with her, she becomes hysterical with rage. We have learned she has been saying horrible things about us to the same extended family members we tried to protect her from in childhood. One relative actually told my husband that we must have done something terrible to our daughter for her to treat us this way.
These family members now have a special, almost frenzied new importance to our daughter. They judge us constantly. To be accused of such mistreatment is insulting and painful. Please print this so these family members will stop jumping to conclusions. – Reading This Can Help
Dear Reading: Most likely, the only thing that will change their perspective is to be on the receiving end of your daughter’s erratic behavior. Despite all the therapy she had when younger, her problems haven’t disappeared. She has simply chosen to deal with them in her own way, which currently precludes a loving relationship with you. We hope that will change. While you cannot control what the relatives think, please take comfort in knowing you handled your daughter’s issues in a way that protected and helped her. That is what good parents do.