Life Advice



Ask Amy: Abused daughter is now angry caregiver

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Daughter: Many people don’t care for aging and abusive parents. (You might be amazed at how often elderly people in long-term care facilities have no visitors.)

I assume that sometimes these family members are wracked with guilt about staying away. Others are doing their best to take care of themselves – as your brother seems to be doing.

If your parents have been living independently and relying on you for basic necessities, when your father passes away, your mother’s living situation will have to change. Look now for an assisted living situation for her. If she refuses, a social worker can define her choices, while you step back.

Because you accepted (or assigned yourself) the role of caregiver, you should now redefine what that means. If you make sure your mother has clean and safe housing, food, and medical care – then this is a compassionate response to her basic needs.

Must you see her three times a week with a smile plastered on your face while you boil over in anger? No.

When you are behaving in a way that causes you pain (multiple visits a week), the most logical reaction is to behave in a way that lessens the pain (reduce to one visit a week).


Understand that the people who traumatized, abused, and beat you as a child will not deliver a satisfying ending for you now.

Work with your therapist on a program of “loving detachment,” where you can create and enforce boundaries, while releasing any expectations regarding a reckoning.

Dear Amy: My teenage son is a very good tennis player, and plays competitively in tournaments.

He has competed from a very young age, but more recently he has experienced a string of losses that are debilitating to his confidence and to the quality of our family life.


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