Carolyn Hax: Daughter needs mom's phone call

The Washington PostApril 17, 2014 

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Carolyn: Our 22-year-old daughter lives with her boyfriend, whom we don't really like, but are cordial when we get together. A friend of our daughter's recently contacted me to say she had received a "very frightening" note from our "very depressed" daughter, then later backtracked and said there was nothing to worry about and our daughter would probably reach out to us when the time was right.

Piecing together some other facts, I am fairly certain our daughter had an abortion last month. I suspect the friend reached out because she felt it was "above her paygrade" to help our daughter deal with her depression. Our daughter has been uncharacteristically out of touch for three weeks, texting us only that she's been busy.

I'm not sure if I should call and ask if something's up, or wait for her to bring it up. She has every right to her privacy, but I am concerned this depression could spiral downward. What would you do?


I'd wait till she was ready to tell me, but in the meantime, I'd call "just to say hi." I'd also put myself in her path, ever so gently, to make it easy for her to lean on me - maybe, trump up something to drop off at her apartment.

Normally I wouldn't insinuate myself into an adult's life like that, but depression is an exceptional case. Someone needs to be willing to override - judiciously - the normal limits.

Re: Worried: Call. Please call. You don't need to pry, but depression can make reaching out to people so impossibly hard. Just let her know there is a human being in this world who loves her and wants to talk to her. When you're depressed, one person's "didn't want to pry" can feel very much like "doesn't even care."


Thanks for this, and also for the nudge to answer more fully: Anyone in this parent's position would do well to read up on depression. Depression makes getting out of bed feel like an insurmountable obstacle.

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