Life Advice



Ask Amy: Troubled daughters won’t reveal reasons

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

I’m beyond devastated. Thoughts?

– Totally Confused Mom

Dear Mom: Something seems to be amiss in your ideal family, but your angry daughters are not ready – or willing – to illuminate things for you.

You say the daughter who reports childhood trauma cannot give you an example of what she is referring to.

I say that she is not ready. This could be because you and your husband have a habit of denying problems, explaining things away, or glossing things over.

Your other daughter is disrespectful and dismissive but refuses to explain why.


You are expecting both daughters to explain themselves to you, but they might lack the words, or the wherewithal, to pierce your family’s beautiful façade in order to describe their own experiences and feelings.

They might have had a traumatic experience with a neighbor, a family member, or kids at school. They might have felt afraid, lonely, or harshly judged.

Parents need to make sure that their children understand that they can fail, and fall, and have problems – because that’s what it means to be human.

This is a humbling experience for you. I suggest that you start framing your concern toward them, personally – versus the impact on you – and offer to enter therapy with each, as soon as they are ready.


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