Monday, June 18, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Before you can have a healthy relationship with your mother she has work to do

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Mom must own up to drinking, emotional problems

Q: I rarely get a phone call from my mother — maybe once every several months — and never get an email. I'm lucky if she "likes" a Facebook post or sends a text. I've tried calling and emailing but usually get no response. She says she's eager to visit and be a grandmother to my kids, but I don't see a lot of effort.

For what it's worth, she divorced my father a few years ago and is trying to have a second adolescence (ditching family for parties, talking of little besides partying and drinking, texting while driving with my children in the car, etc.).

Yes, I realize this is deeper than a tendency to text, but I can't even make the first steps toward repairing our relationship if all I get is a "like" once in a while. What do you think?

Anonymous

Carolyn: You say: "I can't even make the first steps toward repairing our relationship if all I get is a 'like' once in a while."

I say: You can't even make the first steps toward repairing your relationship if your mom won't admit and seek treatment for her drinking problem and the emotional problems underlying it.

I'm sorry.

Anonymous again: I know there's a ton of baggage my mother is carrying, and I don't understand all if it. But she's my mom and I love her and I want her to be happy. And I want to have a relationship. I just don't know how to go about it. She won't seek treatment and I know she really thinks she has done nothing wrong. I guess I just know life is short and I don't want to regret not repairing the relationship while I had the chance.

Carolyn: Of course, I don't question your motives. But you also need to be realistic about how much of that repair job is really under your control. Al-Anon might be a good next stop for you. Also, as many have written in to say, don't let Mom drive your kids anymore. Her judgment is too compromised.

Anonymous again: Thank you for calling this situation what it is. I've always known my mom has a drinking problem and said as much to my dad a few years ago, but I pushed it out of my mind.

In short, my mother has issues due to a trauma years ago that I don't know the specifics of (she said something in anger to me as a teenager but didn't elaborate). No, I haven't let her drive with my kids in the car since the texting incident and I never let her spend time with them without my supervision.

I don't want her to be a cookie-baking grandma, but when she chooses pub crawls over a preplanned trip to visit us — we live in another state — and our conversations revolve around how much partying she's done without so much as a question about my family, then I get sad. Anyway, thanks so much for giving me clarity and an idea of how to move forward.

Carolyn: You're welcome, and, again, I'm sorry about your mom. For more information, try the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' toll-free substance abuse referral and information line at 1-800-662-4357.

Comments

Tell Me About It: After years of depression, a diagnosis

Q: I’m 33 and have dealt with depression on and off since my adolescence. I grew up in a household with every kind of abuse you can think of, but I didn’t start seeking help until my early 20s via talk therapy, and cut ties entirely with my abusers. ...
Published: 06/17/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of June 18-24

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of June 18-24

St. Pete Pride: One of the largest Pride celebration in the Southeast happens this weekend, bringing a rainbow of activities. Things set off on Friday with the free SP2 Concert at North Straub Park, hosted by Coco Montrese of RuPaul’s Drag Race...
Published: 06/15/18
Updated: 06/18/18

Tell Me About It: Pregnancy news confirms estrangement

Q: I just found out my son and his wife are going to be parents. I’m very excited and somewhat confused and a little hurt: She’s seven months along. I don’t know why the long wait to tell me. They live in another state, and I haven’t seen them in abo...
Published: 06/15/18

Tell Me About It: Sister must face her poor choices in men

Q: Last night, I received my umpteenth call from my sobbing, devastated sister (mid-20s) over yet another semi-hookup-flirty-thing guy that didn’t work out. He is moving away and she found out via an announcement at work, not from him.This is a years...
Published: 06/15/18
High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

A gliding, wraith-like figure of a Dementor from the Harry Potter films enters Central Park, and the exteriors of the surrounding buildings immediately are covered in a layer of ice, a sign of their power to drain happiness out of the air around them...
Published: 06/14/18
Things to do this weekend: Father’s Day, Maroon 5, The Illusionists, Mr. Rogers film, fireworks at Busch Gardens

Things to do this weekend: Father’s Day, Maroon 5, The Illusionists, Mr. Rogers film, fireworks at Busch Gardens

HolidayFather’s Day: Sunday brings us a day to honor the guy who cheered us on, called us down and blamed us for his bald spot. It’s Father’s Day! A number of local attractions are offering free admission for dads if at least one ungrateful progeny t...
Published: 06/14/18

Tell Me About It: Group resists suggestion of sober vacation

Q: I have a friend I have known since high school who has recently been in recovery for drinking. He is about six weeks into an outpatient system and has been doing well. A group of friends including my friend in recovery have been going on two campi...
Published: 06/14/18
Top things to do this week: Father’s Day freebies, Summer Circus Spectacular, Gelatin Plunge

Top things to do this week: Father’s Day freebies, Summer Circus Spectacular, Gelatin Plunge

NOTE: This item has been updated to reflect the correct start time of 7 p.m.SQUISHY: Gelatin PlungeRaise money for a cancer charity and you, too, could plummet down a slide into more than 2,000 gallons of orange gelatin before a party with live music...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/15/18
‘Incredibles 2’ just might be better than the original — and a cure to superhero fatigue

‘Incredibles 2’ just might be better than the original — and a cure to superhero fatigue

It’s been 14 years since the premiere of Brad Bird’s beloved animated superhero film The Incredibles, one of the mega-hit Pixar films that cemented its reputation for film humor and heart that would satisfy both parents and children. With cool mid-ce...
Published: 06/13/18
This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Maroon 5, Joan Jett, Styx and more

This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Maroon 5, Joan Jett, Styx and more

MANY VOICES: Maroon 5Remember when Adam Levine crooned the hook on Kanye West’s 2005 single Heard ’Em Say? Feels like a lifetime ago; it’s hard to imagine ’Ye and the Maroon 5 frontman booking studio time together in 2018. Or at least, it would be, i...
Published: 06/13/18