Dear Amy:

I am in a situation with my two children where there doesn’t seem to be a right answer. I have been put in the middle.

First off, I was a good mother to my children. I raised them with much love and was always there for them growing up and through adulthood.

About two years ago out of the blue, my daughter (age 40) tells me that her brother (two years older) molested her when they were children. I was shocked, to say the least. I told her I was so sorry, and didn’t know what to say.

When she told me the story, I felt so bad for her. But that wasn’t enough. She apparently wanted me to totally take her side and turn against her brother. My son and I are very close. I know she is very jealous of that.

She and I have had many problems since her father passed away. She has been depressed and has made lots of mistakes. She has turned the kids against me because I won’t take her side.

She now hates the sight of me. She talks trash about me to everybody who will listen. I tried again last week, only to be torn to shreds by her in front of her kids. What should a mother do?

Sad

You are not a good mother. You might have done your best when your children were younger, but you are not doing your best now, and there is no acceptable excuse for that.

Your daughter’s depression, poor judgment and fury can be traced to being molested as a child. If you can’t “take her side,” then the least you can do is to stand by her side. Imagine the additional heartache for her when you, her mother, deny her pain and continue to favor her abuser.

You should do everything possible to help her heal from her childhood trauma. Your failure to do so adds to her suffering. You and your family (including your son) all need professional help.

The Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network offers 24-hour online and phone hotlines. You can start your education by calling 800-656-HOPE (4673) or checking rainn.org. You should suggest that your daughter do the same.

Dear Amy:

My husband and I make a good living and are very frugal. We have two young children. My mother-in-law is frequently upset that we don’t visit her. However, her house is a filthy sty!

In addition to the filth, she has animals and my husband has terrible allergies. She is super-sensitive whenever we bring up the condition of her home.

She lives several states away in Las Vegas, where all there is to do is gamble; we’re certainly not going to throw our money away doing that.

We don’t want to bring our kids out there, but she keeps bringing it up. What can we say to her?

Desperate Daughter-in-Law

There is plenty to do in Las Vegas besides gambling: hiking in Red Rock Canyon, visiting Hoover Dam or any number of other activities that don’t involve croupiers. Motel suites in Vegas can be extremely inexpensive. And they always have a pool.

If you visit, you should invite your mother-in-law to spend time with you outside her home. Or you should invite her to visit yours.

If she demands a reason, tell her what you’ve told her before: that the condition of her house makes it impossible for you to stay there.

Dear Amy:

Responding to “Cautious Sister,” who was worried about inviting her sister to her wedding, I married at age 27 and worried about inviting my father to my very small wedding. He was a hellion — and had been all of my life.

The day before the wedding I decided to invite him. He was delighted. At the reception, he caused embarrassment by drinking and making a pass at my new mother-in-law. However, I’ve never been sorry a bit that I included him. Some actions are very good for one’s soul.

Anita

You are an extremely forgiving woman, a credit to your mother, no doubt.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2011 by the Chicago Tribune

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