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Ask Amy: Troubled daughters won’t reveal reasons
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Ask Amy: Troubled daughters won’t reveal reasons

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Amy Dickinson (copy)

Amy Dickinson

Dear Amy: My husband and I have been married for 40 years.

We have two daughters in their 30s.

I happily was a stay-at-home mom, and my husband was a busy physician. Although busy, he and I never missed a sporting or school event that our daughters participated in.

We traveled, gave them every opportunity in life, and they had a wonderful childhood.

Or so we thought.

My youngest informed me last night that she had some “childhood trauma,” she couldn’t give me an example, and that she is going into therapy.

She also informed me that her older sister told her that she had a horrible childhood.

My oldest has in the past been very disrespectful and dismissive of both my husband and me. She has never provided a reason for her attitude.

She is mother to our only grandchildren, whom we adore.

Could her father and I have gotten it so wrong?

I’m beyond devastated. What are your thoughts? Totally Confused Mom

Dear Mom: Something seems to be amiss in your ideal family, but your angry daughters are not ready, or willing, to illuminate things for you.

You say the daughter who reports childhood trauma cannot give you an example of what she is referring to.

I say that she is not ready. This could be because you and your husband have a habit of denying problems, explaining things away or glossing things over.

Your other daughter is disrespectful and dismissive but refuses to explain why.

You are expecting both daughters to explain themselves to you, but they might lack the words, or the wherewithal, to pierce your family’s beautiful facade in order to describe their own experiences and feelings.

They might have had a traumatic experience with a neighbor, a family member or kids at school. They might have felt afraid, lonely or harshly judged.

Parents need to make sure that their children understand that they can fail, and fall, and have problems, because that’s what it means to be human.

This is a humbling experience for you. I suggest that you start framing your concern toward them, personally, versus the impact on you, and offer to enter therapy with each, as soon as they are ready.

Email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.

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