DEAR DEIDRE:  MY family didn’t bother acknowledging my 40th birthday so I’m done with the lot of them.

I’m married. My wife is 38 and has a lovely family. I do not. My mother has always emotionally neglected me.

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She criticised me throughout my childhood and teens. I was never good enough for her.

My sister got everything and was clearly loved. She still is. My mother makes a point of phoning me when she’s looked after my sister’s kids and tells me all about it. She never looks after our children.

I didn’t expect much for my birthday but I didn’t even get a card. I was so down about it. My mother has been calling my wife but I don’t want to talk to her.

I managed to shut all the disappointment out when I met my wife but all those sad feelings came flooding back when our children were born. I hope I’m a better parent.

DEIDRE SAYS: Your insight makes me sure you are. Why your mum behaves so unpleasantly towards you is not your fault. It will be linked with something in her past or around the circumstances of your arrival in her life.

You cannot change her – only she can change her behaviour. But you can learn to accept that this is the way she is.

Find support through Stand Alone, which helps people of all ages who become estranged from their family, at

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