DEAR AMY: My daughter gets extremely angry at me — so angry that she will hang up the phone in the middle of a conversation and not answer her phone when I call her back.
I have told her that I do not appreciate her doing this, and she says it is better than her saying the things she is thinking when she gets mad at me.
Her anger has been a problem in our relationship since she was quite young. In the past few years, I have learned not to react in the moment since that just makes things worse, but it is taking a toll on me to have so many negative and nasty things directed at me when I am just trying to be helpful.
Before she hangs up the phone she generally gets a few nasty remarks in first. She is an adult now, but I have been helping her out financially because her job does not pay very well. Maybe I should quit doing that.
I do not know how to communicate to her the fact that I would like to be able to help her, but she is doing serious damage to the way I feel about her. It has gotten so bad I am thinking of not picking up the phone if she calls. Any thoughts? -- Perplexed
DEAR PERPLEXED: Let me introduce you to a concept called “natural consequences.”
The natural consequence for you of having the phone slammed down on you is to not pick up the phone immediately to call back the person who hung up on you.
The natural consequence for your daughter after she treats you badly would be for her to have to face the reality of losing some contact with you. If you two speak and she is disrespectful, you say, “This isn’t going so well so I’m going to say goodbye.”
Along with this new way of behaving toward her, you will have to spend some time reviewing your other behavior. In addition to enabling your daughter to treat you badly, are you behaving in other ways you shouldn’t? Should you, perhaps, stop being so helpful?
DEAR AMY: My brother-in-law is getting married in Seattle this summer. The couple (first marriage for each) is requesting “no gifts” and do not plan to register for any gifts. They say everyone coming out to Seattle for their wedding is our gift to them.
Should we respect their wishes, or should I get them a gift? -- To Gift or Not to Gift
DEAR TO GIFT: This couple could not do any more than they have already done to make their wishes known. All you have to do now is respect their request, attend their wedding and have a good time.
Afterward, you can send them a note along with some candid snapshots from the reception by way of a “thank you.”
DEAR AMY: Your answer to “Angry,” who is being bullied by a teacher, was spot on.
Working with students can be difficult, and often a teacher will make mean comments toward a student, sometimes without realizing it is bullying. Perhaps the teacher was making a joke he or she didn’t realize was mean-spirited.
I’m a teacher, and I have done this myself — and the student confronted me. I was mortified and apologized. This really prompted me to evaluate how I speak to my students.
I agree with your advice but would add one comment. Has Angry ever confronted the teacher and said, “Hey, that hurts my feelings. I’d like you to stop”? This should be the first step. Then, if this does not work, she or he should go to a counselor and parents to help mediate the issue.
Of course, this teacher might see nothing wrong with her own behavior, which I hope is not the case. -- Another Teacher
DEAR TEACHER: I heartily agree that asking this teacher to stop should be the first step. Many a bully has excused his or her behavior by saying, “It was all a joke!”
I maintain that most people can discern the difference between humor and a slam, and asking people to review their intentions is revealing.
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