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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Must Work to Overcome Contempt She Has for Daughter

DEAR ABBY: "Anonymous in Washington State" (March 25) can't stand her 10-year-old daughter but adores her two sons. I have worked for more than 20 years for a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve parenting and prevent child abuse.

"Anonymous" can access more information from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services online ( or via telephone at (360) 902-8400 to find out about free or low-cost mental health/counseling services in her area. Parent Trust for Washington Children may be able to provide information on support groups and other services. The phone number is (206) 233-0156. Finally, there is Childhelp USA ((800) 422-4453) if she wants to speak to a counselor who can direct her to local services. -- SUZANNA IN MILWAUKEE

DEAR SUZANNA: Thank you for sharing some valuable resources. That letter struck a nerve with many readers who reached out to offer help as well as share similar experiences. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: As a teacher, I would occasionally have a student I didn't like. I gave myself the "Ten Rule." I'd make 10 positive comments about the student before I allowed myself to make a negative one. The process worked miracles.

I don't know if I changed because I made the effort to find good qualities, or if the child changed because of the positive input. Before long, I found myself liking and enjoying that student as much as I did the others. -- NANCY IN BROUSSARD, LA.

DEAR ABBY: I suffered physical and verbal abuse from my mother, who told me often I was her "ugly" child. The day I checked out of the hospital for depression she told me she had never bonded with me as an infant and that I annoyed her. I suffered from low self-esteem for as far back as I can remember.

I'm almost 40 now, and after thousands of hours of therapy and hard work, I choose to believe that I am worthy and loving. I'm in a healthy marriage and have a 2-year-old daughter. The thought of repeating the pattern of abuse makes me ill. I hope "Anonymous" will do whatever she can to change her attitude toward her daughter. -- J.H., LONG BEACH, CALIF.

DEAR ABBY: Children mimic what they see. "Anonymous" has two sons who are watching and learning how to treat people, especially women. -- READER IN MILES CITY, MONT.

DEAR ABBY: My mother was physically and mentally abusive to me while she doted on my three brothers. I used to pray for someone to rescue me. I vowed never to have children because I feared there was a defect my mother had passed on to me, and I never wanted anyone to feel the way she made me feel. Ironically, my three brothers never even call my mother, and after tons of therapy, I am now her loving caregiver. -- BEEN THERE IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR ABBY: I am 52 and my heart still aches when I think of how unloved I felt as an awkward 10-year-old. My mother was repulsed by me -- an overweight, bucktoothed, loud and unladylike girl.

After I left home I went on to become a highly successful, beautiful and engaging woman, despite the flawed vision of myself that had been created by my self-absorbed and verbally abusive mother. Little girls grow up, and what this mother ruins today may haunt her tomorrow. -- GROWN UP IN NEW ENGLAND

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