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.