DEAR READERS: Your questions and dilemmas never take a holiday, but occasionally I must. This year I’m spending a week pursuing a rigorous summertime schedule of mini-golf, water slides and go-kart racing. This week’s “best of” columns come from deep within the Ask Amy vault. Like a soft-serve twisty cone, they are sometimes even more enjoyable as a second helping.
DEAR AMY: Recently I was in my 16-year-old daughter’s room, where I thumbed through what I thought was a sketchbook. In fact it was a diary/journal, and although I know I should have closed it at that time, I read the last entry.
It was written after we had a recent quarrel, which I thought on a 1 to 10 scale to be about a 3. In it she called me her “God D- — Mother” and said she wished I would stay away from her and that she is only happy with her friends. I was shocked because I thought that we always had a much-better-than-average mother/daughter relationship, and was hurt by the amount of anger she had toward me.
In the past, any angry barbs that came my way I just brushed off as teenage angst, but now I wonder if it is more personal.
She is in general a great kid and has spared me any other worries (knock on wood). I’m having trouble getting past this (it’s been a couple of weeks now). I just feel something has been lost.
Any suggestions? — Mom in a Muddle
DEAR MOM: I ran this question past my own 16-year-old daughter and asked her if she thought you should confront your daughter about this.
She quickly reminded me that diaries are full of exaggeration and are never meant to be read by anyone else. She thinks that if you tell your daughter you read her diary, she might find this violation of her privacy unforgivable. Right.
Now I have my own reaction. Though I agree with my daughter on this, I feel your pain. One of the burdens of motherhood is that your kids can hurt you, and you still have to soldier on and be the mom.
Remember when your daughter was 3 years old and pitched an epic fit and called you “bad mommy” in the hardware store because you wouldn’t let her buy the chain saw? This is like that. She is calling you “bad mommy,” and you’re going to have to go ahead and love her, anyway.
That having been said, if your daughter’s out-loud outbursts or angry barbs include the sort of language she used in her diary, then I think you really need to try to get to the bottom of it. Teenage angst and all — it’s not normal, and it’s certainly not acceptable, for kids to heap abuse on their parents.
That’s what diaries are for. (2004)
DEAR AMY: I am the father of a 19-year-old daughter. She is a great kid, smart, stays out of trouble and has lots of friends. The problem is that she likes to run around the house in her underwear.
I will come home from work and she will be sitting in front of the TV with just a T-shirt and underwear on or come out of the shower with only a towel on her head. She doesn’t do this when we have houseguests. I have asked her to put more clothes on, but she just tells me not to be so stuffy. My wife thinks this is just a passing phase.
What do you think? — Confused Father
DEAR FATHER: Your daughter’s reaction to you tells me that she doesn’t worry too much about respecting your point of view. I don’t know how that strikes you, but that would probably bother me more than the nudity. If she continues to refuse to respect this pretty simple request, the next time she spends an evening at home, you might want to come to dinner wearing only your boxer shorts. If she asks you what’s going on, you can look at your daughter and say, “Stop being so stuffy! Please pass the potatoes.” (2004)