Life Advice



Ask Amy: Unreliable parent leaves guilty legacy

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I grew up with a mom who I could never trust to reliably "show up.”

She was an alcoholic until I was 7, and I was sent back and forth between my father and her while she went through relationships with several men.

She had a sober period from when I was 7 until I was 13, and then she remarried and had two more children.

Once I went to college, I was no longer invited home, and this continued even after I was married.

She rarely called and was very busy with my half-siblings. There was always an excuse as to why she couldn't see me.

She would cancel at the last minute to see a friend or make it very difficult to set solid plans. If I didn’t initiate getting together, I would never see her.


Now my kids are teens, and they don't know her at all.

Throughout their childhoods, she never invited them over. She never invites us for Christmas celebrations with my stepdad and half-siblings.

I feel like it has been my job to try to maintain a relationship with her.

I often feel it as an extra burden – with heavy guilt attached. Am I right to feel this way?


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