Q. In my childhood my mother’s terrible temper would be turned on me and/or my sister and she would be verbally and physically abusive. She tends to bottle up all her anger and then explode into a temper tantrum that can last for hours.
My father just goes into “ignore” mode until she calms down. I don’t think my parents consider her behavior abusive. I now have a family of my own and have chosen a much different way of running my household because of my mother’s behavior.
My sister is in her late 20s and has been living at home (way past her welcome) for several reasons.
In the last couple of weeks, my sister has called me twice (I don’t live nearby) to tell me that mom has attacked her physically. The most recent episode seems to be worse than before and my sister went to stay at her boyfriend’s house, but this is a temporary solution.
My husband will not stand for our son to see her fly into a rage. I agree with him that if she has a tantrum while we are visiting, we will have to leave. He thinks that I need to give her a fair warning, but I’m nervous about discussing her anger with her.
I would like to maintain a decent relationship with my parents. However, I feel like my mother needs to get professional help to deal with her stress and anger. I just don’t know how to start that conversation with her.
A. Make sure your sister is in a safe place. She needs to move out. Understand that when you stand up to your mother, she will lash out against you, or another family member. Stay calm.
You should say to her, “Mom, your temper is out of hand. I have been afraid to confront you about this in the past, but you need professional help.” List a couple of examples of behavior that is irrefutable and out of bounds. Connect her with a local counseling center. I also wonder if your father is OK. You should find out.
After this, tell her that because of the impact on your family, you will leave her house when she erupts. This seems a natural consequence of her bullying, and it is about time she faced it.
Q. I was friends with “Christa” for about 15 years. We were not close but I considered us “friends.” We worked together and saw each other occasionally socially. I always enjoyed her and her husband. We invited them to our daughter’s wedding.
Many years later, when their daughter was married (last spring), we were not invited. We were very hurt, but eventually I accepted that they did not think of us as friends and did not care if it hurt our feelings to be excluded.
Now we find ourselves invited to a small dinner party where they will be guests.
I don’t know what to do. Should we go and pretend that everything is fine, or should we skip the party and other events because it is difficult to socialize with them after this obvious slight? Is there another way to look at this?
A. Another way to look at this is to see these friends as “friends” (i.e. fond acquaintances). Some people invite “friends” to weddings but some don’t, certainly if they have become more distant over time.
Don’t let this cramp your social style. Don’t “pretend” that everything is fine and then go to this party. Make sure everything is fine (by accepting this choice and not taking it too personally, even if you don’t understand it) and then go to the party.Amy Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.