Posted: Friday, February 13, 2009 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: Five years ago, my children and I moved back home so I could take care of my mother. My sister and niece had been keeping an eye on her, but didn’t want to do it anymore. Mom is in her late 70s and has arthritis in both legs. She often falls but refuses to use her walker. She’s been hospitalized three times, and each time I sat with her in the hospital all day. We’ve had to clean her up when she couldn’t make it to the bathroom. We take care of the yard and fix things around the house. We drive her wherever she needs to go.
The problem is, Mom does nothing but cause trouble for us. She expects us to be at her beck and call. She has money, but acts like she doesn’t have a dime and tells everyone we refuse to buy food for her and that we’re useless. She’s nasty to my daughter, but treats my son like her little prince. When my daughter scraped our car against a pole, my mother encouraged her to lie to me and claim it was a hit-and-run. When my daughter told me the truth, Mom reamed her out.
I took my mother to the doctor and told him how she was behaving, but he said there is nothing wrong with her. After five years of being treated like dirt, I’m ready to leave. Am I doing something wrong? I told my children if I ever act like that just shoot me. — Feeling Hurt and Lost in Kapolei
Dear Feeling Hurt: Some people are just difficult, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be trained to behave better. When your mother says or does something rude or cruel, tell her calmly that you would like her to be more polite, that you will not stand around and be insulted or let your children be hurt, and that you are leaving the room. Never raise your voice or become angry. Simply state the rules and stick to them. It may be necessary to move out of Mom’s house if she continues to be verbally abusive, in which case, check up on her often. In time, we hope Mom can moderate her behavior in order to stay in your good graces. She needs you.
Dear Annie: Why is it that when a group of people sends flowers or a gift, the unmarried members of the group are expected to pay twice the share of the married members? I am single and am often invited to join in for group purchases. I always have to contribute the same amount as married couples.
When I recently asked my doctor brother and his lawyer wife why my share was one-third the total cost when the gift was from five of us, they acted surprised and one said with disgust, “Just pay what you want. I’ll pay the rest of your share.” Fortunately, I am not unduly burdened by this. But it still doesn’t feel right. Am I the only person to question the fairness of this practice? — Only One in Ohio
Dear Only: Hardly, but each group has its own practice. One of the fairest is to divide the cost by the number of working participants, which means couples with a stay-at-home parent or a student spouse are not unduly burdened, either. Suggest it next time and see what happens.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Grannie Loves Them All,” who wants her daughter to give hand-me-downs to her son’s children. We have six wonderful grandchildren, and we are the central distribution point for hand-me-downs for our three daughters who live in different states. This year, the youngest grandchild (10 months old) received toys “left over” from her cousins and she was thrilled. Everything was new to her. — Charity Begins at Home
Dear Charity: Many people love hand-me-downs but are reluctant to pass them on for fear of seeming cheap. Thanks for pointing out the positives.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 2.13.09