Dear Abby: I’m stuck taking care of my negligent, self-centered mother

Dear Abby counsels a woman responsible for taking care of her neglectful mother.
Dear Abby counsels a woman responsible for taking care of her neglectful mother.

DEAR ABBY: My mom always catered to my dad when I was growing up. I was left to pretty much raise myself. Their drinking and social life were their priorities. I ended up pregnant at 16 and married to an abusive 21-year-old man, and I was divorced at 17.

After that, I was on my own. Mom never helped other than writing an occasional check so my situation wouldn’t become her problem. She always blamed Dad for her absence in my life and my kids’ lives, so when he died suddenly four years ago, I foolishly thought we’d finally have this great relationship.

Since his death, Mom’s focus has been on trying to find a new man and hanging out with anyone who will party with her. Because she’s financially secure, they end up taking advantage of her. If I try to talk to her about it, she gets angry and defensive, which is her go-to when confronted with anything.

Mom has had a stroke and has many health issues. When I get the call that she needs help, I take off work, do whatever I can to help and get her well again, only for her to go back to her selfish ways.

Am I wrong for feeling that it’s not healthy for me to continue this cycle? I tried to get her to see a counselor. She went to one session and quit because she didn’t like the things they were saying. She hates the truth and bends it regularly to fit her agenda. Any advice would be appreciated. — BROKEN IN ILLINOIS

DEAR BROKEN: Your mother’s health problems are going to continue. If the time off from work you have been taking is having a negative financial impact on you, you will have to weigh whether trying to please your self-centered mother (and possibly inheriting whatever is left of her estate when she passes) or concentrating on your career is more practical for your own future. I can’t make that decision for you. She has the money to hire someone if she needs help.

DEAR ABBY: My husband has a 36-year-old daughter from a one-night stand. For the last two years, she has been wanting to meet his family, aunts, uncles. She has met them all except for our own children — her half-siblings. Our children are adults and don’t want a relationship with her. She wasn’t part of their life when they were growing up, and now she’s calling their father Dad.

I feel awkward as well, knowing my husband knew about her and wanted nothing to do with her when she was younger. His family has accepted her and is pressuring our children to accept her and let her hang out. Are we wrong for not wanting to act like one big family? — AWKWARD IN TEXAS

DEAR AWKWARD: If there is a victim in this scenario it is the daughter your husband denied for so long. Although the situation isn’t something you are thrilled with, the young woman IS a part of the family. This isn’t the 1950s. The circumstances of her birth are not a reason for her to be ostracized.

Point out to your children that their half-sister IS a relative, and they should give her a chance. If they do, they may be pleasantly surprised to find that they have things in common.

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.