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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom's Method of Motivation Is Really Just Verbal Abuse

DEAR ABBY: Ever since my last report card, my relationship with my mother has deteriorated. I got all A's and B's and have a 3.78 GPA. However, this isn't good enough for Mom.

My mother went to Harvard and doesn't understand why I can't get a 4.0. She has started telling me what a failure I am, that I am worthless and have ruined her life. I know she's probably saying these things without thinking, but it still hurts. She doesn't apologize after her temper dies down -- she just acts like everything is OK.

I don't think I deserve to be treated this way. When I try to talk to her about it, she turns it around and says I deserve this treatment because I am a failure. I'm really hurting and don't know what to do. -- SAD DAUGHTER IN MANHATTAN BEACH, CALIF.

DEAR SAD DAUGHTER: I disagree with your mother. Although she may think she is motivating you to do better, telling a child that she is worthless, a failure, and that she has "ruined her life" is verbal abuse. Please talk to an adult relative or counselor at school about interceding on your behalf with your mother, because her standards are unrealistic, and her method is destructive.