Dear Annie: My adult daughter’s behavior is causing a great deal of emotional pain in my family.
Carole has a violent temper that makes everyone — even her sweet-tempered husband — cower in fear. About six months ago, our entire family attended a large party she and her husband were giving.
The morning after, Carole got into a raging, swearing screaming match with her father, which left him in tears. Since then, there has been no contact between them.
Carole has tried to manipulate me into being on her side in this argument, but I work hard to stay neutral.
A few days ago, I received a long e-mail from her saying she has been waiting six months for some sign from her father that he wants her in his life.
I forwarded the e-mail to my husband, thinking maybe this was the opening he’s been hoping for.
He picked up the phone and called her. As soon as she heard his voice, she went into yet another rant about how he has ruined her life and then slammed down the phone. He was devastated.
My first loyalty is to my husband. I know I should try to keep in touch with Carole, even though her behavior is totally unacceptable.
I’ve suggested counseling, but she refuses, always saying the problem is with the other person, not herself. Can you suggest a way for me to get through this mess? — Carole’s Mother
Dear Mother: Carole sounds like a handful, and we’d guess she has some mental health issues. If your husband wants to re-establish contact, he should write Carole a letter — not to rehash the argument or chastise her, but to simply say he loves her and hopes they can be closer.
All future communication should be kept superficial and brief. Carole is a ticking bomb, and until she admits she needs help, it serves no purpose to set her off.
Dear Annie: I have been friends with Frannie for over 20 years. She recently began dating a great guy, Ben, who is very loving and treats her well.
The problem is, Frannie and Ben enjoy going out with large groups of people whom my husband and I don’t enjoy being with. Frannie is convinced that the reason we don’t socialize with them is because I don’t approve of her and Ben.
I have told her that we love spending time with the two of them, but hinted that their friends are a little too rough around the edges for us (they hang out in bars, smoke and ride motorcycles — which my husband and I don’t enjoy).
But she continues to invite us to join them with these people and then gets upset when I refuse. Am I being selfish and snobby? — Running Out of Excuses
Dear Running: Of course not. Frannie may be trying to fit in, in which case, she may actually be asking for your support when she socializes with them.
Otherwise, issue your own invitations to Frannie and Ben so she can see that you want to spend time with the two of them, but on your terms.
Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.