Amy Dickinson
Columnist

Ask Amy: Remote mother mourns the family connection

DEAR AMY: I am very fortunate. I have two excellent adult daughters, perfect sons-in-law and gifted and sweet grandchildren. They are successful and wonderful, and I could not be more proud.

Here’s the problem. My daughters live less than a mile from each other; one family followed the other to a distant state so they could raise their children together. However, both of them live 2,300 miles from me. They are living their lives well. So am I. I have a demanding professional job, and at 63 I have several years to go before I retire.

Amy Dickinson

Amy Dickinson offers straightforward advice on relationships, family and life in her syndicated column, Ask Amy. Syndicated advice columns are run in their entirety on washingtonpost.com; versions published in the newspaper might differ due to space constraints.

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That said, I miss them terribly. It’s too expensive for all of them (seven in all) to travel to where I am, so my husband and I travel there once a year for a week. The visits are wonderful, but the months in between are painful.

I try to stay in touch with my daughters — calling and texting a couple times a week, sending books for them and for the grandchildren, sending newspaper articles — but they don’t reciprocate. They never mention the newspaper articles, rarely mention the books or other gifts, and if they call or text me once a week I’m lucky. The calls are always good and loving. There’s just not much contact from them, and that hurts my feelings. I have mentioned it a couple of times, but they always get annoyed when I do, so I stopped asking.

Is this typical of the relationship between parents and their adult offspring these days? Should I just count my blessings and shut my mouth? -- Missing Out Mom

DEAR MISSING OUT: I shared this issue with my own panel of life advisers/family members. Every single parent confessed to a similar frustration. So it’s not just you.

I also remember a time when I was younger, living a world away and emotionally engaged elsewhere — and I regret that it wasn’t until I was entering middle age where I felt my attachment to my family of birth intensify and deepen, and I started to give back. Fortunately my mother was there for me when I (emotionally) returned.

Remember that your daughters have each other close by for daily familial connection and support. You should do less (because doing more makes you feel so unappreciated). Spread out your contact to being in touch with the grandkids directly through postcards, etc. See if connecting with your daughters on Facebook is satisfying for you. Also, emotionally engage more fully in your local life. If you do less, your daughters may do more.

DEAR AMY: I am 15 years old and have a twin brother. We have an older sister who moved to New York last year. She has her own apartment. When our older brother was 15, he flew to visit my sister in D.C. by himself.

Our parents promised us a trip by ourselves at that age, but now that we are 15, they say they don’t want us going. Our sister is old enough to watch after us and we would be absolutely safe there. We are even willing to pay for our plane fare. How can we persuade our parents to let us go to New York? -- Frustrated

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Your sister — the one who will be hosting you — is the person who can (and should) advocate for you. Your folks may have a negative idea about New York City and your sister’s ability to supervise two of you (vs. one, when your brother visited).

If your sister reassures them and they still don’t want you to go, you’ll have to assume that they aren’t yet confident enough in you. Your visit may need to wait another year.

DEAR AMY: “Tight Tenant” fretted about her landlord cashing her rent check promptly. She should pay with a money order. You can get these for a small (or no) fee. -- Regular Reader

DEAR READER: If “Tight Tenant” did this, then she would fret about her landlord receiving the payment safely. I think she needs to learn how to budget.

Amy’s column appears seven days a week at www.washingtonpost.com/advice. Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

by the Chicago Tribune

 
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