Ask Amy: Estranged daughter still yearns for her father

Dear Amy: My daughter is 36 years old.

Her father and I divorced when she was a toddler. He had all the visitation he wanted, and (reluctantly) paid child support.

When she was 16, he stopped seeing her because she got her driver’s license and he said that she could drive to see him instead of him driving to see her.

He lived about 40 minutes away.

She had a job and was still in high school, so she didn’t drive there.

Consequently, her father stopped calling her. She has sent him birthday and Christmas cards, which came back unopened.

She has two sons now, and pictures she sent to him came back unopened.

A few years ago, she called him to say Happy Easter and he made a few grunting noises into the phone and said that he didn’t have a daughter.

Of course, she was very hurt and tearful.

She’s still trying to get a positive response out of him.

I told her to forget it and to move on.

What advice do you have for her?

— Already Moved On

Dear Moved On: I think it’s a heavy lift to “forget” a parent — even one who has thoroughly rejected their child.

A more helpful effort might be for your daughter to thoroughly explore and understand her own feelings and motivations. Her father successfully implanted decades of guilt when, as a teenager she declined to visit him, and he cut himself off from her and then blamed her for his own actions.

For this, he has decided to punish her for as long as it takes. What a guy. And now he doesn’t even need to put any effort into his punishment, because she is doing it for him. Every time she makes an effort, she is reminded of the rejection.

Your daughter is now coping with her sadness by behaving in the way rejected children often behave — by searching, yearning, and desperately trying to fix a relationship that possibly cannot be fixed.

It would be helpful for her to understand that her father’s behavior has provided a useful negative example for how lasting and painful parental rejection is. She must decide to be a constant, loving and compassionate parent to her children, and take pride in the healthy relationship and good example she sets for them.

She should continue to make occasional efforts to connect with her father, if doing so relieves the impulse and if the effort makes her feel worthy.

But for her, “moving on” would involve anticipating and completely detaching from the outcome. She is trying, and that will have to be enough.

Dear Amy: I’m a 67-year-old male and am having a hard time with physical mobility issues and the anxiety of going out.

The two issues go hand-in-hand, as I used to have no real problems going out shopping and such. I was also active in the gym.

Since the development of aching hips and knees I’ve been really resistant to going out and this has caused me to grow isolated and depressed, which in turn has made my physical issues worse.

Any suggestions on how to change things?

— Dave

Dear Dave: Suggestion Number One: See your physician! Your aches and pains could be successfully treated.

I appreciate your insight about the connection between your mobility fears and your isolation. My local hospital shares space with a popular gym, and it is inspiring to see people carefully working with physical therapists, alongside other patrons who are simply working out.

It is true that if you don’t use it, you lose it — so I urge you to take careful steps toward recovering function.

Dear Amy: Responding to your advice to “Grateful Grandchild,” who wanted to receive an inheritance from grandparents “early,” my parents had $750,000 in their early 80s.

My father then spent three years in a memory care facility at $10,000 a month before he died in 2020.

My mother suffered a stroke in 2020 that left her paralyzed and bedridden in a skilled nursing unit for three years before she passed in 2023.

Her skilled nursing care was also $10,000 a month.

Seventy-two months. $10,000 a month. Do the math.

It’s often unwise to distribute any “inheritance” money while you’re living and may need the funds for care. It’s shortsighted and selfish, in my opinion, to expect someone to do so.

— Long-Term Care Happens

Dear Long-Term Care: Your parents’ situation underscores the reason I recommended against pressuring elders to disperse their savings.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, In The Know, to get entertainment news sent straight to your inbox.

Source: Read Full Article