Ask Amy

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 1:00am
Amy Dickenson


DEAR AMY: Last Mother's Day, my daughter was a new mother of a 2-month-old baby.

Instead of asking me to lunch or something along that line, she got upset that I didn't ask her out to celebrate her new motherhood. I had sent her a card.

Instead of spending time with me, she went out for the day with her father, which hurt me a lot.

My question is: Am I wrong?

Should I be celebrating her motherhood?

Am I being selfish for wanting her to celebrate me first?

Please help me, because Mother's Day is coming up again, and I don't know what to do.

— Mother in Denver

DEAR DENVER: Although Mother's Day seems to have morphed into a free-for-all celebration of all-things-Mom, in my view, the day should be one where we daughters (and sons) honor and celebrate our own mothers — and not a day where we expect our mothers to celebrate our parental status.

After all, haven't our mothers already done enough?

This means that you should honor your mother (if possible) and your daughter should honor you.

Acknowledging your daughter's new motherhood last year was thoughtful. She also should have honored you on the day.

That said, you and your daughter seem to have unresolved issues that have descended into petty and mutual mommy-baiting. I hope you can take a long view, work things out and acknowledge each other.


DEAR AMY: My 15-year-old niece "Molly" has a difficult time making friends. She is a shy and quiet girl. Her sister is a year older and has plenty of friends but does not include Molly.

Their mom and I have both talked to the older sister about this and asked her to include Molly, but she doesn't.

I am seeing Molly become increasingly depressed. I have invited her to hang out with me and have tried to get her interested in other things. She seems very lonely and makes statements like, "No one wants me around" and, "My family would be better off if I were dead."

This really concerns me. What else can I do to help?

— Anxious Aunt

DEAR ANXIOUS: Your niece's statements are alarming; you should speak with her parents right away and urge them in the strongest possible terms to get some professional help for her. Her school's counselor should also be involved.

You may recall your own experience as a teenager as being somewhat dramatic and angst-y, but there is a vast difference between suffering the normal slings and arrows of adolescence and making suicidal hints.

We adults know shockingly little about the real lives of our children.

Your niece could be suffering from more than just a lack of friends. She might be the victim of bullying at school, for instance. Her depression might be situational or chemical — but either way she'll need help.

I admire your willingness to be intimately involved in your niece's life. You can make a real difference to her, but her current situation might be beyond your ability to fix, so please take immediate action.

You and "Molly's" parents might benefit from reading "A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression," by Gary Nelson (Cascade Books, $18). Nelson, a pastor and therapist, writes about trying to battle his teen son's depression.


DEAR AMY: I have followed the discussion in your column about how children should address a woman post-divorce, but no one has suggested the method I use. Some adults prefer to be referred to casually by their first name, some more formally by their last, some keep their maiden name, some hyphenate and so on.

Here is what I have always done when introducing my children to an adult: "Charlie, this is my friend Mary Smith. Mary, this is my son Charlie. How would you like him to address you?"

It is respectful and puts the onus on the person to decide what they would like to be called.

— Lynda

DEAR LYNDA: Your method is best. However, there are parents who won't permit their children to address an adult on a first-name basis, no matter what the stated preference happens to be.

Send questions to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles

1 Comment on this post:

By: GUS37215 on 5/5/09 at 7:49

Regarding the battle of the moms you missed something important. I agree that on Mother's Day we honor our Mothers, not vice-versa. But something is terribly wrong in a marriage where a husband would abandon his wife on Mother's day in order to honor his daughter. Additionally, if the daughter has a spouse, it is his responsibility to honor his wife as the mother of his small child who is too young to do so.

Sounds like everyone needs a marriage counselor.