DEAR ABBY: I can't stand my 10-year-old daughter. I was an 18-year-old single mother when she was born. I find her ugly and annoying. Everyone tells me how "sweet" and "pretty" she is, but I can't see it. I dread when she comes home from school. I am not physically abusive to her — I would never do that. But I can be verbally abusive, and I know I need to stop. She just makes me so mad.
I am now married with two more kids (boys), and I adore them. What's wrong with me? How can I fix this? I'm afraid it's too late. I have no spiritual adviser to talk to, and I can't afford to speak to a professional counselor.
— ANONYMOUS IN WASHINGTON STATE
DEAR ANONYMOUS: The circumstances of your daughter's birth were very different from those of your sons. When you look at her, you may be reminded of a chapter in your life you would prefer to forget. How sad for both of you.
The way you treat her, particularly in relation to her half-brothers — will affect the way she perceives herself for the rest of her life. People whose parents treat them as unlovable often regard themselves as not "measuring up," and it can cause self-esteem problems that last a lifetime.
Ordinarily, I would encourage you to seek low-cost therapy through your county department of mental health for the sake of both you and your daughter. If that isn't possible, then I advise you to hold your tongue, control your temper and compel yourself to show your daughter approval and affection every day until it becomes a habit or she's old enough to leave — whichever comes first.
DEAR ABBY: My workplace has instituted "casual dress Friday," where everyone is supposed to make a donation to a charity selected by a different employee each fortnight. While this is nice in theory, I often find that I don't wish to donate to the chosen charity because I don't agree with its ethics or its methods.
I give regularly to charities of my choice, which I have researched beforehand, but have never been one to donate automatically to every passing collection.
How do I bow out gracefully when the collection tin comes around? I have tried to explain to my co-workers why I don't support a particular charity and simply say I have chosen not to participate. I am met with blank stares and demands that I explain myself, and lectures about why I must "support the team."
I don't feel my colleagues have any right to tell me what I should do with my money, but they obviously disagree and I am finding the situation very uncomfortable. Any suggestions?
— FEELING AWKWARD IN AUSTRALIA
DEAR FEELING AWKWARD: The policy you describe seems more like "friendly" extortion than real charitable giving. (Is there some kind of contest going on between teams to see who can raise the most money?) While I'm all for casual Fridays, the policy of pressuring people to give strikes me as one that should be modified or done away with completely. That's why I think you should discuss your feelings with your supervisor or the head of the department and go on record that you prefer to give your money to causes you have researched and with which you identify. If that doesn't help, you may be working for the wrong company. Sorry, mate.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.