Dear Amy: My beautiful high school senior is having a hard time.
When she was in elementary school, she announced that she would be the high school valedictorian. She has kept her vow. She volunteers for many organizations, tutors middle-school students, is an athlete, and is on the mock trial and academic team.
Her intense discipline, vision, and hard work paid off.
Because of the current national crisis, she will not be able to attend any of the end-of-year banquets, give her farewell speeches, go to prom, walk at graduation, or go to parties.
Her solace now is playing the piano and loving her pets. She still tutors students online.
When she shared her disappointment with a beloved relative, this person responded: “Welcome to adult life. You will discover disappointments at every turn. How you handle bad luck and disappointments will determine your long-term success.”
Even though I agree with the advice, it feels cold and uncaring.
I know I can’t fix this, but what can her mother and I do to help her get through her disappointments? — Sad Dad
Dear Dad: Your “beloved relative” did my job for me.
Every word of what that person said is absolutely true. This is NOT what a hurting teenager wants to hear, but I assure you — this “cold and unfeeling” wisdom will come back to her time and time again. Eventually, she will be grateful for it.
The experiences she and her cohorts are absorbing during this period will stay with them for the rest of their lives. They will remember it as being an extremely challenging and unfair time, that nonetheless taught them many things. When they have children of their own, they will try to pass along some of the wisdom your relative tried to impart (and it will no-doubt be met with generational skepticism).
Granted — any tough love is easier to hear when it is accompanied by a hug, tenderness, and the reaction that every hurting person values which is to feel seen and understood. That’s what you and her mother will deliver.
I would add one thing. Even though your daughter will miss the public accolades and experiences that she so sincerely deserves to receive, she will always have this: She gets to spend the rest of her life being HER — the accomplished, caring, smart and kind person who (along with countless young people around the world), caught a very tough break. My heart goes out to them. I wish I could take every last one of them to the prom.
Dear Amy: My husband, “Stan,” has been divorced from his ex-wife for 30 years. He had children with her, but he doesn’t really know them (he wasn’t allowed to visit, and he couldn’t afford a lawyer).
Stan and I have two adult children together.
Our daughter found one of her half-sisters. I am very happy for her. They are starting to visit one another and seem to enjoy each other’s company.
We recently found out that our daughter has begun a relationship with her father’s ex-wife. Stan was hurt and feels betrayed by our daughter.
It now appears that his ex-wife has visited our daughter and our grandchild!
Of course, if she was our daughter’s mother or stepmother, it would make sense. We don’t understand this.
What do you think? — Wondering Parents
Dear Wondering: Your husband doesn’t have a relationship with his (first-born) children. Despite the challenges surrounding the divorce, he could have made overtures to them in adulthood — much as your daughter has done.
Your daughter’s relationship with her half-sister has quite naturally expanded to include other family members. It is not surprising that you would both feel threatened by this. In addition to “sharing” your daughter and grandchild with another parental figure, your husband may fear that an alternate version of this long-ago history may emerge.
You have no choice but to accept this relationship, even if it bothers you. Eventually, the two halves of your husband’s history may become more integrated, and this would be a good thing for everyone in the family.
Dear Amy: Like “Annoyed,” my children were also concerned about my social media ranting, so I simply used the tools on the site to limit my “rants” to people who share my views.
I can still include my family in my other posts. I can also block posts from people who push my buttons. I suggest Annoyed’s mother should do the same. — Survivor of Family Intervention!
Dear Survivor: Good advice.