Dear Amy: My 18-year-old daughter was kicked out of her friend group for being “too annoying” last fall, at the start of her senior year.
Her mental health plummeted as a result of this rejection and isolation, so she finished her senior year online and has been receiving therapy ever since.
She has college plans, and we are all trying to move forward after this painful year.
I was friendly with two of the mothers in this group, and they clearly don’t accept that their daughters had any responsibility in the situation.
One in particular is clueless about how her daughter treated mine despite this behavior going on for years.
This mom has tried to maintain a friendly online rapport with me, but I cannot stomach the idea of socializing with her and pretending as if her daughter didn’t have a role in bullying mine out of school.
I am concerned that I may be facing social engagements where she is present, given our mutual connection and the fact that she lives nearby.
How can I get past this issue peacefully without more drama for myself or my family?
— Had Enough
Dear Had Enough: This is a tough situation for your daughter and your family, and I hope that her transition to college life goes smoothly.
You state that these mothers are “clueless” about their daughters’ bullying behavior, and if they are truly clueless (unaware), then perhaps they should be told about it. (The school should have done this when the dynamic emerged.)
However, I believe it would help you to ask yourself with intent what you would like from these other women. Do you want them to acknowledge that their daughters bullied your daughter? Would you like them to apologize?
Further — prepare yourself for an unsatisfying response.
The one mother you are most concerned about is trying to maintain a friendly online rapport. You might contact her privately to express: “I admit that I’m holding onto resentment for the role your daughter played in bullying mine. I realize that parents aren’t responsible for every terrible choice our teenagers make, but this went on for a long time, and our family continues to struggle with the fallout.”
This mother might be: Defensive, aggressive, concerned, apologetic, embarrassed, or silent.
The reason for you to engage privately is so you can move forward publicly with more confidence, having been honest about an important matter that bothers you.
If this parent is uncomfortable facing the truth about her daughter’s behavior, she will have to deal with her discomfort. If she chooses to engage in a respectful dialogue with you about this, it might benefit both of you.
Dear Amy: My husband is seriously addicted to porn. It makes me feel so unwanted.
I feel there is no way to compete with what he is watching.
He refuses to talk about the subject at all.
Should I feel “not good enough” compared to the women he sees in these films?
— Upset and Unwanted
Dear Unwanted: I wish you didn’t ask if you “should feel” the way you feel.
Your feelings are your feelings — they belong to you, and you get to have them!
And the way you report feeling: “not good enough,” is the natural response when your partner is addicted to porn.
There are several recovery programs dedicated to offering support and healing for people addicted to pornography. One is Sex Addicts Anonymous (saa-recovery.org), which uses meetings and a 12-step model.
As with any addiction, recovery depends on the addict admitting the addiction, and committing to the challenging process of change.
Your husband doesn’t seem to have arrived at that point.
You have your own life to consider, and you have a series of decisions to make about your relationship with your husband.
Sanon.org is a 12-step “friends and family” program where you could communicate with others affected by a partner’s porn addiction. These are people who can truly say, “I know how you feel.”
Dear Amy: “Perplexed Mother-in-Law” was upset because gifts to her son and daughter-in-law were only acknowledged by her son — not his wife.
I have a possible insight. My son and his wife split up the thank you notes for gifts.
She writes them out to her family and my son writes to our family.
I think this is a perfect solution, and maybe what they are doing too!
— Grateful Mom
Dear Grateful: Even better would be if spouses were assigned to thank their in-laws. It would go a long way to promote closeness.