Dear Amy: I need some help with my oldest daughter. I divorced their father when my girls were under the age of 5. My ex was an alcoholic and heavy smoker who was spotty with child support.
I was a great earner and provided for the girls. We had dinner together every night and I never missed an activity. Their father died three years ago from lung cancer. Both daughters are successful and doing well, but my oldest, at 34, is still unmarried and very unhappy about it.
This daughter criticizes me endlessly. Endlessly. If I adjust a behavior that bothers her, she picks something else to rag on me about. Honestly, it's exhausting. I find myself communicating with her less often, and mostly by text.
I am close to her best friend, and I will text this friend before I do my daughter, who then gets insulted and comes after me for that.
I find all of this disrespectful. As a parent, I'm sure I made mistakes, but I don't think I deserve this constant dressing down.
It's almost as if the roles are reversed and she is now raising me! I have a good job, a nice husband whom she likes, a lovely home, friends, etc.
I'm not sure what she gets from abusing me, and even though I want a relationship with her, it is becoming just too hard to take. Your advice?
Amy says: You mention that your daughter's treatment is a sort of role reversal, in that she is now acting like a parent to you.
This is a problem. If you see degrading treatment as somehow "parental," then perhaps there is something to your own parenting which might have contributed to this behavior. It's something to think about.
One bonus of having adult children is that parents can expect their children to (finally) behave like adults.
Is this treatment that you would tolerate from any other adult? I doubt it. And so you should not tolerate it from your own daughter.
You should stop adjusting your own behavior to please her. Convey that if she wants to have an active relationship with you, she will have to adjust her own behavior.
No thanks, no gifts
Dear Amy: I taught my children to write thank-you cards after receiving any gifts. My grown children, our parents and siblings have carried on this tradition of thoughtful etiquette. However, we also send gifts to several nieces and nephews (and their children) who live out of town. We don't receive a thank-you note, e-mail, phone call, text — nothing.
Some live great distances away and we wonder if the packages even arrived. I have e-mailed a niece who lives in Europe to see if my package arrived for her family of four, and then she replied "yes, and thanks."
I enjoy gift-giving, but I do want a thank you, by note, e-mail, call or even a text. Is this too much to expect?
I'm tempted to discontinue gift-giving to these relatives or perhaps sending them thank-you notes and stamps as Christmas gifts next year as a hint. Am I expecting too much? What do you think?
Amy says: This is a perennial issue. Yes, a gift should be acknowledged and you should be thanked. If you give a gift in person and the person thanks you in person, they needn't follow up with written thanks.
Anyone receiving a gift in the mail should acknowledge it via any of the numerous ways we have of connecting with one another these days.
If you have to chase down recipients, then this is a sign that they don't necessarily value your efforts.
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