Advice from Carolyn Hax

2013-02-22T11:30:00Z Advice from Carolyn HaxBy Carolyn Hax Washington Post Writers Group Arizona Daily Star
February 22, 2013 11:30 am  • 

Dear Carolyn:

I grew up with a mother who was profoundly manipulative, volatile and mean-spirited. My siblings and I all have anxiety disorders for which we have sought counseling. I have distanced myself from my mother and have a happy life with my husband and 4-year-old daughter.

I have begun allowing my mother limited contact with daughter out of my mother’s desire to have a relationship with her. I am comfortable with where the boundaries currently are, but my mother is not. She continually pushes to have my daughter for weekend visits (she lives several hours away).

I do not believe she would overtly harm my daughter, but she can “fly off the handle” when upset and has very different ideas than I do about what is “acceptable” behavior from a 4-year-old.

My family seems to think I am being unreasonable to hold my mother at such distance. My sister has no personal relationship with her but does allow her to baby-sit her children. Am I wrong not to allow weekend visits, or am I being realistic?

— Anxious Mother

If this is multiple-choice, then I need more choices. Like this:

“I refuse to leave my daughter with my mother unsupervised because I am (a) wrong; (b) realistic; (c) not out of my therapeutically reconstructed mind.”

I’m going with (c).

I can’t know what your sister is thinking, and have the sense not to pass under-informed judgment on the way people raise their kids, but I will spend part of today wondering how a parent too toxic for adults can be safe for kids.

You’ve mulled this yourself, apparently, and come up empty. Trust that. Don’t be sucked in by a manipulative family that has damaged your own mental health. If anything, recognize that you’re within their gravitational field and take a corrective step back.

Mom’s pressuring you? So what. You’re a mother too, one who knows the harm “profoundly manipulative, volatile and mean-spirited” people can do. Protect your cub. Be fierce.

Email Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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