Dear Abby: I’m nervous around my short-tempered adult daughter

The woman’s mom tiptoes around her to avoid being yelled at or ghosted.

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DEAR ABBY: I have one child, a daughter, “Anna,” I adopted at 19 months. She’s 41 now and has two small children. She had a normal upbringing, although her father and I divorced when she was 9. She has chosen to not have a relationship with him as an adult. Anna has never married, nor has she been in a relationship for longer than four or five months. According to a few counselors I have seen, she has attachment disorder.

Anna is very difficult. She’s mean, says hateful things and is an angry young woman. She takes no responsibility for any of her actions, and therefore cannot keep a job, friends, etc. for more than a few months. She is also extremely negative. If I try to say anything, she gets angry, starts cussing, yelling and slinging hate, and stops contacting me for weeks at a time.

We have nothing in common. We live in separate states, but I see her about a half-dozen times a year. When I do, I tiptoe around on eggshells because of her short fuse. Her attitude is starting to rub off on her boys.

This is not what I had envisioned all those years ago when I adopted her. I miss who I thought she would become. Is there anything I can do without completely alienating myself from my grandsons, which would break my heart? — TIPTOEING ON EGGSHELLS

DEAR TIPTOEING: I am sorry your adoption did not turn out as you envisioned. Your daughter is clearly troubled, and it is not surprising that her attitude has begun to affect her boys. It is time you accept that, as much as you wish to, you cannot change another person, and there’s nothing you can do to “fix” her.

You mentioned that you visit her every two months. Perhaps you should consider visiting fewer times than that. Ask if she would let the grandkids come and visit Grandma occasionally. However, if she isn’t receptive, refusing to engage with her is the price you will have to pay for seeing them and trying to cement a relationship with them.

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a girl since high school. We were high school sweethearts, but now we are both 28. My girlfriend wants to get married and have kids, but I do not. I want to keep dating her. I am scared to break up with her because if I did, I wouldn’t know what to do with my life. Should I change, or should she change? — STATUS QUO IN COLORADO

DEAR STATUS QUO: I hereby appoint you to be the designated changer. You have been so absorbed with this romance you never took the time to develop interests of your own.

At the age of 28, many women start thinking about marriage and children. Doing that is normal and rational. However, because you don’t feel ready to make a lifetime commitment, you would be making a huge mistake to allow yourself to be pushed into it.

It is important that you learn who you are before you marry anyone. Accomplishing this is a process that takes time and a variety of experiences, and you should embark on that now. It would be unfair to continue dating her at this point because your paths are going to diverge as each of you learns to manage without leaning on the other.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To receive a collection of Abby’s most memorable — and most frequently requested — poems and essays, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby — Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

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