Dear Amy:

I am writing for help with my daughter. She is in her 40s and is very short-tempered and disrespectful in her comments toward me.

I am a very spiritual and "hip" mom, but I'm at a loss about how to handle this.

I am in a 12-step program, and it teaches me patience, acceptance, and tolerance, but when is enough enough?

I have tried to speak to my daughter about her behavior on several occasions. She is impatient and curt with me.

When I brought the issue up at my 12-step meeting, at least 15 women had the same problem.

Let's face it, you can't "punish" adult children. You can't give them a time-out, and it isn't politically correct to interfere with them as married adults.

I don't know what to do with the feelings I have. I am beginning to avoid my daughter, due to her extreme judgmental attitude toward me.

I have not lectured or tried to correct her - I've decided to avoid her.

She hangs the phone up on me if I even "hint" at not agreeing with her.

I love her dearly and would never break off the relationship, but I'm not "feeling it" any longer, and that scares me.

She has two children and just started working, but she was like this before the pressures of her job.

I try to be supportive by taking my grandchildren overnight and picking up any slack whenever she needs me. I give her "date" nights with her husband, and so on.

She has "chastised" me for giving the children too many gifts. She's quite the bully.


- Mad Mom

Dear Mom: You don't say what problems your 12-step meetings address, but if you are battling addiction, perhaps you could imagine that some of the issues that drove you to your 12-step program have also had a profound impact on your daughter.

Children of people with addictions struggle with anger, frustration, and anxiety. You don't seem willing to see your own behavior from your daughter's perspective, but you should try.

For instance, if she feels you overindulge her children and corrects you on this score, is she "chastising" you or merely asking you to respect her values?

Does your self-described "hipness" prevent you from drawing clear boundaries, establishing expectations, and acting like an adult?

Rather than tolerating abuse and then avoiding your daughter, you should ask her if she could work with you to try to do things differently.

You know from your 12-step work that you cannot control or change someone else. If you have to create more distance from your daughter to protect yourself from her bullying, then you'll have to step back from the relationship until things change.