DEAR AMY: My daughter is toxic. She and her husband live with me, but with my help of a hefty down payment they will soon be moving out.
I am looking forward to their absence. I am thinking of changing the locks once they leave.
My abrasive daughter tends to get angry and then cut out whomever she thinks offended her.
The list is long and includes her only brother, my sister, a nephew, my brother, his only daughter, many of my friends and their spouses, many of her own friends, her husband’s family, and all of his old friends.
My elderly mother (94) and myself, at least some of the time, get caught in the crossfire, and then she will stop speaking to us for weeks at a time.
Recently, however, her angry behavior escalated. She knocked me to the floor. Although I wasn’t injured, I was shocked.
I believe she needs therapy to deal with her out-sized anger. I spoke to her about it. Not surprisingly, it turned into an argument.
Of course, I was wrong to poke an alligator with unsolicited advice, but I am her mother and I do care about her.
Her husband is a nice person, but he is cowed by her furious temper.
When my daughter takes offense, she inflates the issue to gargantuan proportions, adds it to a litany of former insults, and believes she is the victim. She does not tolerate any disagreements (no matter how small) and when she argues she tears her opponent to shreds with every imaginable insult.
The strategies that are NOT effective include, tiptoeing around, agreeing — (thereby fueling the rage), apologizing (which justifies her feeling offended), trying to provide insight into the insignificance of the problem, trying to be understanding, or trying to ignore it.
Have any ideas?
Dear Mother: Yes, your daughter needs help. I could speculate about what is going on with her, but she should be seen by a physician and a mental health professional for an assessment. Will she submit to this? Probably not, because one aspect of her malady, temperament, and personality is that she cannot admit that she has a problem, or that she IS a problem.
However, I’m most concerned about you and your 94-year-old mother, and in my opinion, you should be concerned, too.
If your daughter ever threatens or physically harms you or anyone else in the household, you should call the police and she should leave the household immediately.
She has a history of initiating arguments and then declaring estrangements.
This tendency could ultimately protect you, but if this escalates and she won’t keep her distance, you should file a restraining order.
You may have to love her from a distance.
Unfortunately, you cannot protect her husband, but you can hope that he will find ways to protect himself.
DEAR AMY: I am a woman in my 40s, and my father’s captive “pal.”
My older brothers live in other states. I live 30 minutes from my parents, who still have “empty nest syndrome.”
My father calls me his “pal” and we go fishing or to car shows and things like that. However, when he wants to pull rank on me, he is overbearing.
I get tired of switching gears and walking on eggshells.
Last month he was in my apartment and saw a prescription bottle for medication and relentlessly demanded to know what it was for. A few weeks ago, I helped him work on a project and he decided to badger me about going to church.
How can I get him to ease up on me and make some friends of his own?
Dear Tired: It is unlikely that (at his age) your father will change. You can, however. Dealing with aging parents is a dance. Boundaries should be drawn and maintained, but tolerance is also called-for.
Let him know that if he wants you to be his “pal,” you’d like him to treat you like one.
DEAR AMY: I am disgusted that you endorsed “polyamory” in your column! Marriage is between two people. Period.
Dear Disgusted: I did not endorse polyamory; I published a question about polyamory and quoted an expert in my response.
I personally believe that polyamory is not an optimal family system for children (too many people/parents, potentially creating too much drama), but when it comes to how adults conduct their own relationships I see polyamory as a relationship choice and try not to judge how consenting adults choose to live.