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Trust your instincts for daughter's sake

Published February 22, 2013 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Dear Carolyn • I grew up with a mother who was profoundly manipulative, volatile and mean-spirited. My siblings and I all have anxiety disorders for which we have sought counseling. I have distanced myself from my mother and have a happy life with my husband and 4-year-old daughter.

I have begun allowing my mother limited contact with daughter out of my mother's desire to have a relationship with her. I am comfortable with where the boundaries currently are, but my mother is not. She continually pushes to have my daughter for weekend visits (she lives several hours away).

I do not believe she would overtly harm my daughter, but she can "fly off the handle" when upset and has very different ideas than I do about what is "acceptable" behavior from a 4-year-old.

My family seems to think I am being unreasonable to hold my mother at such distance. My sister has no personal relationship with her but does allow her to baby-sit her children. Am I wrong not to allow weekend visits, or am I being realistic?

Anxious Mother

Dear Anxious Mother • If this is multiple-choice, then I need more choices. Like this:

"I refuse to leave my daughter with my mother unsupervised because I am (a) wrong; (b) realistic; (c) not out of my therapeutically reconstructed mind."

I'm going with (c).

I can't know what your sister is thinking, and have the sense not to pass under-informed judgment on the way people raise their kids, but I will spend part of today wondering how a parent too toxic for adults can be safe for kids.

You've mulled this yourself, apparently, and come up empty. Trust that. Don't be sucked in by a manipulative family that has damaged your own mental health. If anything, recognize that you're within their gravitational field and take a corrective step back.

Mom's pressuring you? So what. You're a mother too, one who knows the harm "profoundly manipulative, volatile and mean-spirited" people can do. Protect your cub. Be fierce.

Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.