Dear Annie: When our daughter was a child, she had emotional issues and extensive anger management problems. With tremendous concern and love, we got her professional support and therapy, and ultimately, our daughter learned the skills to control herself. What we did not do was tell extended family members of these private problems. We had seen their extreme intolerance for any kind of mental health issues and did not want our daughter to suffer prejudice from her own family.
In college, the troubling incidents started again. Because of our daughter’s refusal to let us have access to her medical information, we had no real idea of what was happening. The next few years included troubling breakups with both friends and boyfriends, extreme weight loss and talk of suicide.
Our daughter is now 32 and recently married. She suddenly and inexplicably has cut us off. When we try to communicate with her, she becomes hysterical with rage. We have learned she has been saying horrible things about us to the same extended family members we tried to protect her from in childhood. We are devastated. One relative actually told my husband that we must have done something terrible to our daughter for her to treat us this way.
These family members now have a special, almost frenzied new importance to our daughter. They judge us constantly. To be accused of such mistreatment is insulting and painful. Please print this so these family members will stop jumping to conclusions.
— Reading This Can Help
Dear Reading: Most likely, the only thing that will change their perspective is to be on the receiving end of your daughter’s erratic behavior. Despite all the therapy she had when younger, her problems haven’t disappeared. She has simply chosen to deal with them in her own way, which currently precludes a loving relationship with you. We hope that will change. While you cannot control what the relatives think, please take comfort in knowing you handled your daughter’s issues in a way that protected and helped her. That is what good parents do.
Dear Annie: Like many people, I suffer from the effects of multiple sclerosis. To look at us, you wouldn’t know anything is wrong. But the pain I suffer from daily is sometimes unbearable. How should I reply to inconsiderate people who make comments like, “Come on, hurry up” or “What is wrong with you?” I wish people would think before they open their mouths. They do not know the struggles I face.
There is treatment for MS, but no cure. I maintain my regimen of daily injections, but most of the time I cannot control its rampage. Maybe this letter will bring awareness to people not to judge on outward appearances.
— Suffering in Michigan
Dear Suffering: We hope so, but unless you are willing to tell these impatient people what the problem is, they will continue to behave rudely toward you. Please, folks, the people around you may be coping with terrible difficulties that are not visible. Be kind.
Dear Annie: I loved the letter from the “Lady Doctor,” who was so thrilled with her MD degree that she wanted everyone to address her mail to “Dr. Jane Doe and Mr. John Doe.”
My wife and I met in grad school. She went on to get a Ph.D. Her mother is so proud that she addresses all of my wife’s letters to Dr. Jane Doe. However, she is also a traditionalist, so when she writes to both of us, she addresses her letters to Mr. and Mrs. John Doe. My wife will quickly tell anyone who asks that she is at least as proud of her Mrs. degree as she is of her Ph.D.
— Mr. John Doe
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