Life Advice



Ask Amy: For advice shopper, the answer is alienation

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Why is my daughter participating in their family events, while I'm the one babysitting her kids?

Shouldn’t she stop enabling this hate campaign against me?

– Wondering

Dear Wondering: You seem to be advice-shopping, and I assume your psychiatrist is recommending that you ask my opinion because your practice is to reject the advice you’ve been given and go on the hunt for a different answer.

I assume you have researched “parental alienation,” and if so, you will see that your son’s attitude toward you might be the result of his father’s behavior. However, in my opinion, you are also practicing a form of this, in your attempt to force your daughter to align completely with you.

It should not be her job to advocate for you in such a challenging situation. She is doing what many children of toxic divorces do: she is adjusting her scuba mask and wading in, trying her hardest to get her own needs met without being figuratively dashed against the rocks by an angry parent.


You paint yourself as “the good mom” and your ex and son as “bad men,” and as long as you see the world in such absolutes, your daughter will be forced to behave this way. You should never expect a child to completely renounce a parent, because – for better or for worse – that parent is a part of them.

If you don’t want to babysit your grandchildren, don’t! But don’t use them as further ammunition in your ongoing war against your ex.

Dear Amy: My dad and his wife live in Texas. I live in Florida.

My father and stepmother, “Darcy,” have been married for 40 years.


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