Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Daughter Holds Onto Anger Long After Parents' Marriage Ends

DEAR ABBY: My late husband and I had a dysfunctional marriage. He died in a car accident in 1995 at the age of 49. I was 44 then.

I did my best to shield my then-teenage daughter, "Wendy," from his opiate addiction, suicide attempts, physical abuse and the constant flux of income because we were on and off welfare. On the flip side of his character, he was funny, super smart, helped anyone who needed help and was loved by everyone.

Little did I know, my husband had been confiding all of my perceived faults with Wendy over the years. Twenty-five years have passed, and she still has residual anger toward me for things I never did back then. It spills out when she judges me or accuses me about issues that happen between us today.

Her father was abusive and neglectful of her, too, but she doesn't remember it. In her eyes, I was the bad guy in the marriage and he was the good guy and her hero forever.

I don't know how to heal the ugliness between us. I don't think it's productive at this point to tell her how bad her father treated me back then. I continue to love her unconditionally, but it still doesn't overcome her underlying pain and anger. Was I wrong for hiding everything from her? It's not fair being thought of unjustly. What else can I do? -- FAILING IN FLORIDA

DEAR FAILING: By protecting your daughter from the truth all these years, you have contributed to the situation you find yourself in. Tell your daughter it's important the two of you get some issues out in the open, and if she agrees, make an appointment for you both with a licensed mental health professional who can facilitate and mediate the long-overdue discussion.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Death | Marriage & Divorce | Abuse | Money | Addiction | Mental Health