Dear Annie: Our 70-year-old parents are manipulative and emotionally abusive. They rotate which of their three kids is on their “blacklist” and freeze that person out. My parents have no contact with my brother, except to send gifts to their only grandchild. My sister and I, however, have a strong sense of obligation to “honor thy father and mother.”
Mom, who is anorexic, has made weight an issue our entire lives. She constantly tells us we are fat, even though we are not. My parents refused to attend my wedding, saying they were ashamed to be seen in public with me because I wasn’t thin enough. They missed the majority of important events in my life, such as my high school choir solo, saying I was incapable of singing well, and then left town for an impromptu spa weekend.
My husband and I are very much in love. My parents, however, have made it clear he’s not rich or ambitious enough. They say I should have married my college boyfriend because he came from a wealthy family, even though he cheated on me.
When I confronted my parents about their behavior, they stopped speaking to me for five years. The only reason I talk to them now is because I initiated a reconciliation, which I regret. The truth is, if they weren’t my parents, I wouldn’t have anything to do with them. They have actually said, “It’s all about us.” My sister and I have been in therapy, but I don’t feel much of anything for my parents anymore. Would it be best if I just cut them out of my life for good? — It’s All About Them
Dear All About Them: Not everyone is capable of being a parent. You do not have to maintain a relationship with Mom and Dad if they undermine your marriage and treat you abysmally. Is there any redeeming benefit to staying in touch? If so, can you learn to ignore their nasty comments and appreciate whatever it is they DO offer, while turning the other cheek to the rest? This takes effort, practice and the ability to distance yourself emotionally, some of which can be learned through continued therapy, if you wish to try.
Dear Annie: When I began wearing a watch, I was told that I was supposed to wear it on my left wrist. I mentioned this to my mom in passing and she said it doesn’t matter which wrist you wear it on. Is there a rule for watch wearing? — W.W.
Dear W.W.: No. Most people put the watch on the hand that allows them to wind it or reset the time with their dominant hand, meaning right-handed people tend to wear it on the left wrist, and left-handed people on the right.
Dear Annie: I am sick to death of the assumption that when someone’s house is a mess they might be suffering from depression. This may be true, but have you considered that maybe they are just working hard to put food on the table and a roof over the mess, and that they are simply exhausted when they come home from work?
My house is a mess and I spend less time with my child than I would like because I am wiped out from a long day at work. Not depressed, just tired. If I took the time to make my house spotless, I would be spending NO time with my child. My child is my priority and I can worry about the house later.
If some of these “concerned people” are so worried about the condition of my house, maybe they could offer to pay for a maid to come in once a week to help. — Exhausted and Frustrated in Canada
Dear Canada: Many parents, especially those with small children, cannot be expected to keep immaculate homes. But bug-infested rooms and a month’s worth of food-encrusted, unwashed dishes indicate more serious problems.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, 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 on 10.29.07