Life Advice



Ask Amy: First pregnancy ups the ante with tough love

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I have been estranged from my mother for a little over a year. She was mentally and occasionally physically abusive to me while I was growing up. She herself was abused and neglected as a child.

I have tried to repair our relationship, but she crosses any boundaries I set and places me in difficult situations to prove my love and loyalty.

For example, she asked me to disinvite my brother, who had been estranged from her for years, from our wedding and then refused to attend a celebration with my in-laws in an attempt to embarrass me.

The relationship has been fraught for decades. She refuses contact when she’s upset.

Now I’m pregnant with our first child. We are currently not speaking (which is a relief), but I’m torn whether to tell her about my pregnancy.

On the one hand, our baby will be her first grandchild. On the other, if I reach out to tell her, it will be impossible for me to set boundaries without another extremely stressful blowup at some unclear point in the horizon. My husband and I are unsure: What do I owe her? What is best for my new family?


– Torn

Dear Torn: Let’s start with what you “owe,” and to whom.

You now owe everything to your child. Everything. You and your husband will make your share of mistakes – as all parents do – but you will give your child a different and better mother than the one you had.

You will break the legacy of abuse your mother inherited. She was a hurt child, and she hurt her children. That stops with you.


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