DEAR ABBY: My mother has always suffered with various degrees of depression. She no longer takes medication or sees a therapist, but perhaps she should.
When Mom and I go to lunch together, or when I call her, the conversations are always about the wrongs Dad has done to her throughout their whole marriage. I've heard these stories since childhood, and here I am at 32 still being forced to listen to the same old tales of woe.
Because I have heard all this before, I have little patience with her. When I try to change the subject or request she stop complaining, she makes me the enemy and a fight ensues. Dad always insists that I apologize so Mom won't go into another deep depression.
Abby, Mom has no friends, only enemies. I suggested she join church groups, etc., so she will have a life, but she still dwells mainly in the past. Dad can't see that I'm trying to bring her into the present when I ask her not to rehash the past.
I want to enjoy my mother's company and have her enjoy mine. Abby, what can I do to make our visits more pleasant? -- IMPATIENT DAUGHTER
DEAR DAUGHTER: Please be patient with your mother. Apparently she is still sick and needs further treatment. She wouldn't rehash past traumas in her marriage if she were able to let go and live in the present.
Talk to your father about encouraging your mother to get back into therapy and on medication. With both of you urging her, she may accept that additional therapy is necessary.
When you and your mother are having lunch, acknowledge her pain and give her a little sympathy; then gently change the subject, preferably to something she cares about other than her pain. If that doesn't work, try, try again. One day you will be glad you did what you could for her rather than cutting her off.
DEAR ABBY: My grandma worships you. She gave me one of your booklets, "What Every Teen Should Know." I put it away for months, then I read a few chapters, including "Please God, I'm Only 17." It made me cry.
Thanks a lot. You're great -- you really are. -- JAIME E. JOST, 13, SUPERIOR, WIS.
DEAR JAIME: Thank YOU. Your letter made my day. At age 13, you exhibit a quality some people never acquire: giving roses to people while they are still able to smell them.
DEAR ABBY: Re: Promise Keepers.
The original promises were made at the wedding in front of the families, friends and, usually, God. Why do new promises have to be made? Why do promises to women have to be made in the absence of women? Any time a group is excluded from an organization, it implies the group is believed not to be worthy of membership. I am willing to apply this both to the Promise Keepers and the National Organization for Women (NOW).
I am all for keeping promises. But I'd find it more credible if the male Promise Keepers stayed home and did the dishes, rather than having another night out with the boys. In this regard, I see little difference between bowling and Promise Keepers meetings or rallies. -- FAITHFUL (MALE) READER
DEAR FAITHFUL (MALE) READER: You may have missed the column I printed, comprising letters from wives of Promise Keepers who praised the organization for having inspired their husbands to work harder at being better mates. Although it would be nice if the Promise Keepers were co-educational, with an emphasis on both spouses keeping the promises they made at the altar, unless I receive negative mail from the wives, I'm reluctant to criticize a program that seems to be having a positive influence on couples who feel they need it.
P.S. Membership in the National Organization for Women is not restricted to women only.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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