DEAR ABBY: I recently traveled to Germany to help my 19-year-old daughter settle in for her semester of study abroad. I was in tears the entire trip home, not because I was sad to leave her, but because she kept lashing out at me for anything from using a cotton swab to following proper directions exiting the train, to asking simple – but, in her mind, ridiculous – questions. This is not new behavior. Her brother has also observed her over-reactive behavior to minor things.
I treated her and her roommate to dinners out and stocked her apartment with groceries, in addition to making significant financial contributions toward her tuition. I’m also splitting the cost of her monthly rent with her dad.
I feel hurt, like she regards me as only an ATM. She wouldn’t even let me use her European electrical adapter to charge my phone before leaving for the airport.
Should I convey how hurt I feel and, if so, what are your suggestions? I feel if I have a phone conversation, she will sigh, tell me she doesn’t have time for this or accuse me of being a killjoy. If I put it in a letter, I’ll feel like a coward, but it will allow me to express my feelings without interruption or protest. – Unappreciated in Vermont
DEAR UNAPPRECIATED: Frankly, I’m surprised you weren’t crying because you recognized your part in creating the self-entitled monster your daughter has become. You should have put a stop to it when she first started “overreacting” with rude, insensitive and ungrateful behavior.
By all means write her a letter, and when you do, tell her she behaved shamefully, it was hurtful, and that you will no longer tolerate it. Be sure she understands she will not get another penny until you receive an apology and assurances that you won’t be subjected to that kind of abuse again. Continue practicing tough love until you see real changes in your daughter’s attitude. It’s the only kind of language she will understand.
DEAR ABBY: After 23 years together, my wife, after spending time with her grown children, brought home photos of her deceased former husband. The photos that bother me are the ones in which they are holding hands. He was the stepfather to her now-middle-aged children. They had 19 years together, and he had a daughter who became my wife’s stepdaughter.
The stepdaughter posted on social media that she missed her dad. My wife expressed the same feelings and said she thinks about him, too. When my wife posted those sentiments on the internet, everyone could read it. Those pictures and feelings bother me. Am I wrong for being angry about this? – Upset in California
DEAR UPSET: It’s time to grow up and accept that your wife was married – I presume happily – before her former husband’s death. If you want a healthy marriage, stop competing with a dead man. For her to express solidarity with her former stepdaughter was no reflection on her love for or her marriage to you. Your feelings are not all that unusual, but you are wrong to be angry. If you need reassurance, ask your wife for it, and I’m sure she’ll give it to you. Because she once loved another man doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you.
TO MY JEWISH READERS: At sundown tonight, Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, begins. At this time of solemn introspection, I would like to wish you all “L’shana tova tikatevu” – may you be inscribed in the Book of Life and have a good year.