Life Advice



Ask Amy: Unreliable parent leaves guilty legacy

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

I have always wished for supportive and involved grandparents, but I really don't know what is normal.

When I've told my mom that I'd like for her to maybe come up with something to do with my kids, she's just said that she can't.

Am I right to feel burdened and frustrated?

She's not that old; she is capable, drives, and takes care of others in her community.

I've yearned for close family connections but feel like my efforts have not panned out or been reciprocated.

How do I find that connection I've yearned for?


– Distressed

Dear Distressed: You question your own feelings, which is what people do when they’ve experienced chaos and dislocation in childhood. Childhood is when humans learn to inhabit and express their authentic feelings. Competent, sober, and reliable parents guide children through this process. You were denied this – and much more – in your own childhood.

One way to find the connection you’ve yearned for since childhood is to continue to nurture this connection with your own children.

You are the surviving adult child of an alcoholic, and if your children grow into adulthood knowing their own mother to be the steady, reliably loving parent that you never had, then you’ve triumphantly broken the chain.


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