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ASK MOM: Daughter holds grudges, mom worried about it

Jan 05, 2024 01:54AM ● By Mary Follin and Erika Guerrero

Drawing by Suzanne Johnson

THE PROBLEM: My 16 yo daughter has a bad habit of holding grudges. When she perceives someone has wronged her, she’ll tell everyone about it, even if the ‘offender’ apologizes. Long after the incident, she’ll have a sort of shunning thing going on, where she doesn’t want to engage with that person anymore. She has lost some dear friends over this. And by the way, her perspective is all she can see, so it makes it even more difficult for her to maintain long-term friendships since she’s absolutely certain she’s been slighted, even when it’s not that clear to me—or more importantly, her friend. Any ideas on how to help her with this?

MARY SAYS: At some point in life, most people realize a grudge is never about the other person. Rather, it’s a drip, drip, drip poisoning of oneself—an inside job. Holding onto grievances is a form of self-harm, but it takes a degree of self-awareness to understand that.

And we all know people who never figure it out, don’t we? Your daughter is at risk of becoming one of those people without a little guidance from you. 

Talk to her about this. Leave the perceived slights, hurts, and stories out of your conversation. Simply ask her how she feels when she carries anger toward somebody over a long period of time. 

Does she feel happy, or is it more like a feeling of satisfaction and triumph? Is she aware that the undercurrent of anger she carries around with her is a constant burden? Encourage her to sit with this and recognize that she’s making a quality-of-life choice when she decides to stay mad no matter what.

By turning inward to examine her own emotional and physical responses to long-held grudges, your daughter will start to identify the dissonance she feels. She is mistakenly equating satisfaction with joy and withholding as a right. But it takes maturity to see that, which is why your input is so crucial.

Kids are kids and will gravitate toward unhelpful habits without someone (you!) to show them otherwise. In this situation, you have the beautiful opportunity to reflect back to your daughter a more conscious way of being in this world. 

Erika is away on maternity leave.

ASK MOM offers parents two perspectives on today’s child-rearing issues—one from a mom with grown children (Mary), the other from a mom raising a small child (Erika). If you’re looking for creative solutions, or your mom isn’t around to ask, drop in! 

If you have a question for Mary and Erika, we’d love to hear from you! [email protected]

Read more ASK MOM advice.


Mary Follin is the author of Teach Your Child to Read™ and ETHYR, winner of the Moonbeam Children's Book Award and the Gertrude Warner Book Award. She is mom to two grown sons and enjoys sharing her more seasoned perspective  with parents of younger children. 

Erika Guerrero is a freelance hair and makeup artist, Erika K. Beauty, single-mama to one amazing boy, and author of She’s Not Shaken, a blog offering hope and encouragement to women in all walks of life.



Suzanne Johnson, mother of five children and grandmother of eight, is an illustrator, book cover designer, and author of the Realms of Edenocht series.

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