"Anonymous in Washington State" can't stand her 10-year-old daughter but adores her two sons. I have worked for more than 20 years for a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve parenting and prevent child abuse.
"Anonymous" can access more information from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services online (www.dshs.wa.gov) or via phone at 360-902-8400 to find out about free or low-cost mental health and counseling services in her area. Parent Trust for Washington Children may be able to provide information on support groups and other services. The phone number is 206-233-0156. Finally, there is Childhelp USA (800-422-4453) if she wants to speak to a counselor who can direct her to local services.
- Suzanna in Milwaukee
DEAR SUZANNA: Thank you for sharing some valuable resources. That letter struck a nerve with many readers who reached out to offer help as well as share similar experiences. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: As a teacher, I would occasionally have a student I didn't like. I gave myself the "Ten Rule." I'd make 10 positive comments about the student before I allowed myself to make a negative one. The process worked miracles.
I don't know if I changed because I made the effort to find good qualities or if the child changed because of the positive input. Before long, I found myself liking and enjoying that student as much as I did the others.
- Nancy in Broussard, La.
DEAR ABBY: I suffered physical and verbal abuse from my mother, who told me often I was her "ugly" child. The day I checked out of the hospital for depression she told me she had never bonded with me as an infant and that I annoyed her. I suffered from low self-esteem for as far back as I can remember.
I'm almost 40 now, and after thousands of hours of therapy and hard work, I choose to believe that I am worthy and loving. I'm in a healthy marriage and have a 2-year-old daughter. The thought of repeating the pattern of abuse makes me ill. I hope "Anonymous" will do whatever she can to change her attitude toward her daughter.
- J.H., Long Beach, Calif.
DEAR ABBY: Children mimic what they see. "Anonymous" has two sons who are watching and learning how to treat people, especially women.
- Reader in Miles City, Mont.
DEAR ABBY: My mother was physically and mentally abusive to me while she doted on my three brothers. I used to pray for someone to rescue me. I vowed never to have children because I feared there was a defect my mother had passed on to me, and I never wanted anyone to feel the way she made me feel. Ironically, my three brothers never even call my mother, and after tons of therapy, I am now her loving caregiver.
- Been there in California
DEAR ABBY: I am 52 and my heart still aches when I think of how unloved I felt as an awkward 10-year-old. My mother was repulsed by me - an overweight, bucktoothed, loud and unladylike girl.
After I left home, I went on to become a highly successful, beautiful and engaging woman, despite the flawed vision of myself that had been created by my self-absorbed and verbally abusive mother. Little girls grow up, and what this mother ruins today may haunt her tomorrow.
- Grown up in New England