Mom is pressured to teach native language to daughter

Brownwood Bulletin
Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: I came to this country 30 years ago, at 16. My parents were very abusive and neglectful, so my uncle in the U.S. took me in. I have worked with therapists, and my mind is clear about my past.

I now have a 14-year-old daughter. I do not speak to her in my native language. It is not very good at expressing love and caring, and has more emphasis on strict hierarchy and obedience.

There are many things I cannot convey in my native language. One must understand the huge cultural difference between my native country and the U.S. In addition, I do not want to force my daughter to learn something because someone other than her insisted. I prefer to spend my resources helping her learn something she is interested in.

If she says she wants to learn my native language, I'll teach her. So far, she has shown no interest. My friends criticize me for not teaching it to her. I'm bothered by their insistence that I'm robbing my daughter of the opportunity to learn it. How do I tell them it is none of their business? -- READER IN HAWAII

DEAR READER: Your daughter may not have asked to learn your native language because it hasn't occurred to her that it might one day be a valuable asset. I do think you should offer to teach it to her if she's interested in knowing more about the culture that shaped her mother, because her answer might surprise you.

That said, because your friends' comments bother you, tell them that because you don't tell them how to raise their children, you prefer they not tell you how to raise yours.

DEAR ABBY: I have a unique problem, and if it isn't resolved, I'm afraid my marriage is going to end in divorce. Ten years ago, at my brother-in-law's wedding, I was left in charge of the bar. I got drunk and made a fool of myself. This included overtly flirting with one of the bridesmaids. I'm incredibly sorry about the embarrassment it caused my wife.

Fast-forward to today: My wife has accused me of inappropriate behavior and hundreds of affairs that never happened. I have been faithful to her since we started dating. She goes through my business phone and accuses me and my professional contacts of sexual behavior. I have offered to take a polygraph exam, but she continues to accuse me of infidelity. I'm at my wits' end, and marriage counseling isn't an option. -- NOT FOOLING AROUND IN MAINE

DEAR NOT FOOLING: Marriage counseling may not be an option for you and your wife, but you should definitely consult a licensed psychotherapist. Something is not right with your wife. Is it possible that the wedding incident so severely unbalanced her that she has never recovered?

What you have described is a miserable existence for both of you. That it has gone unresolved for a decade is tragic. Where you need to go from here I cannot decide for you, but a therapist may be able to guide you.

DEAR ABBY: When my husband and I were first married, I had no idea why his mother and sisters were so hostile. When they started treating our children the same way, my husband finally addressed the issue. We moved out of town, and he finally told me that when he was in his teens and early 20s, he had had sex with all of them, which was why they didn't like me.

After an estrangement of many years, he has now started talking to his mother and sisters again. His mother is now in her 70s. It breaks my heart that he is talking to people he had sex with, but he says it is OK because they are "family." In my opinion, he should have nothing to do with them. Please tell me how I need to handle things. -- "ALL IN THE FAMILY"

DEAR "ALL IN": You cannot control what another adult does. I sympathize with your feelings, and I agree your husband's family situation was beyond unhealthy. However, from what you wrote, I get the impression that you would be equally upset if he were talking with ex-girlfriends. If your husband wants to talk to his relatives, he's going to do it regardless of whether or not you find it threatening. My question to you would be, are you willing to tolerate it?

DEAR ABBY: My girlfriend suffers from depression. She says she loves me, but there are times she won't contact me for days because of it. During this most recent bout of depression, she hasn't talked to me for a month.

I finally got fed up. I told her the next time she talks to me it should either be a breakup call or to give me an apology. Was I right to say that? I don't know what to do. -- UNSURE IN THE EAST

DEAR UNSURE: You say your girlfriend suffers from depression. Is she under the care of a doctor and receiving treatment for it? Is her family aware of the fact that when she cycles down she is incommunicado? If she's so incapacitated that she can't communicate, they should be notified so she can get the professional help she needs, including an adjustment in her medications if necessary.

I agree she owes you an apology, and I can't fault you for telling her. But I would not recommend mentioning breaking up while she's in a vulnerable mental state.

DEAR ABBY: I am a 55-year-old successful businesswoman who has fallen in love with a man who has nothing. I would have to support him completely in retirement, but he is so lovable, so kind and so much fun. He does bring me great joy and happiness. What should I do -- stay with him and take on the burden of his finances or just keep moving? -- EYE TO THE FUTURE IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR EYE: You are a 55-year-old successful businesswoman. I assume you are asking me whether you should marry this man or not, even though you find him lovable, kind and fun to be with. People have valuable assets to offer besides money. However, before you make any trips to the altar, I suggest you have a chat with your attorney, just in case your assessment of him should change after the wedding.