Dear Annie: My cousin has had anger issues for years, especially toward our grandmother. A few years ago, her parents got divorced, and her dad immediately started dating another woman, with whom he now shares a house. My cousin has announced that she is cutting herself off from all family ties, and, when she turns 18 next year, she is planning on changing her last name.
She is consistently rude to our grandmother, who is just trying to show her love and affection during this hard time in her life. She also recklessly got a tattoo a few weeks ago. I’m worried that she is turning down a dangerous path in her life.
Is there anything I can do to keep my family together and help her through this trying time without having her turn on me, too? – Concerned Cousin
Dear Concerned Cousin: It is understandable that your cousin has anger issues. Her parents just got divorced, and now she is dealing with her father dating and living with another woman. She feels that she has no control over the situation so she wants to control something. That is why she is talking about changing her name, getting a tattoo and removing herself from the family.
The whole situation might be just too painful for her to deal with right now. As for being disrespectful to Grandma, well, that is because she is a safe space for your cousin’s fury. Your cousin is deflecting her anger from her father onto her grandma because she knows that grandma will always be there, loving her.
My advice is to encourage you to be a friend. Be as kind, loving and supportive as you possibly can while she is going through this. If she “turns on you,” know that it is temporary. If you continue to show her love and compassion, she will come around.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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