DEAR ABBY: My beautiful, intelligent 18-year-old daughter, "Lara," has just completed her first year of college. She's attending school out of state in the same city where her father, "Grant" -- my ex -- is living.
Abby, Grant left when Lara was 5 months old. He left us for his sister, with whom he had been having an affair, because she told him she was pregnant with his child. The divorce was very hard on us, and my daughter has been in counseling for years -- including at the college.
Lara spends her holidays with her father, her aunt and their two children. She's aware of the incestuous relationship and vents a lot of anger at me for the rough time we've had. In the past, Lara's therapists have told me she directs her anger at me because "she can't get angry at the person she should really be angry at -- her father."
My daughter refuses to tell her current therapist about the incestuous relationship because she's afraid it will be reported to the authorities and the children will be taken away. The sister bought Lara a car and a cell phone, and pays the phone bill, car insurance and some of Lara's other expenses. I suspect the thought of losing the car and cell phone have something to do with my daughter's hesitation to level with her therapist.
How can I get Lara to stop abusing me because of her repressed anger at her father? -- LOVING MOTHER IN ALABAMA
DEAR LOVING MOTHER: The most effective way to stop someone from abusing you is to quit tolerating it. The next time your daughter becomes abusive, inform her that you do not deserve to be treated that way and will not listen. Tell her that unless she is willing to level with her therapist, she might as well quit because it's a waste of everyone's time. Say it in as loving a tone as you can, and do not raise your voice. Then politely end the conversation. You have suffered enough.