Posted: Friday, November 5, 2010 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: I’ve known my 26-year-old stepdaughter, “Monica,” since she was 5. She never spent much time with her father, but when the first grandchild was born, she came by more often because she wanted a babysitter. Her dad and I were together 21 years before he died six months ago.
Now when I hear from Monica, all she wants to do is rehash everything that happened at the end of her father’s life. She harangues me about difficult choices I had to make, even though my husband and I discussed those things in advance.
I still have two children at home and work full time, and I am trying to deal with my own grief. Monica’s attitude makes it hard to stay in contact. I know she is grieving, too, but I think she feels guilty for not spending more time with her dad before it was too late. She hurt him a great deal over the years.
I’m sure Monica is angry that I haven’t called lately, but I just can’t deal with her. I do love her and our grandchild, but am I wrong to want some distance right now? — Still Grieving
Dear Still: We understand that you want to avoid being assaulted by Monica. But please know that these things can take on a life of their own, and the relationship may not recover — even when you are ready. Because you love her and the grandchild, we recommend instead that you maintain minimal contact (as much as you can handle at a time) and urge Monica to get grief counseling. You might even offer to go with her.
Dear Annie: My wife and I have been happily married for 30 years without any major arguments, until now. Our 22-year-old daughter recently moved into an apartment and discovered that no pets were allowed. This meant her 9-year-old cocker spaniel, who is blind and incontinent, did not have a home. My wife offered to take the dog into our house, and it has been living with us for six weeks.
I cannot tolerate the smell and the mess any longer. I told my wife the dog must leave. She said if the dog goes, she goes with it. I do not wish to end my marriage, but I cannot remain here with the dog. What should I do? — Solicitous Spouse
Dear Spouse: Something more is going on if your wife of 30 years is willing to throw you over for a blind, incontinent dog she’s had for only six weeks. It’s possible she is reluctant to part with the animal because the dog is her link to her daughter. You need to talk to her and find out why she has put the dog first in your marriage. You might also enlist a neutral third party to referee. Or give your daughter a few months to find a new apartment that is dog friendly.
Dear Annie: Your advice to “Shirley” regarding a 5-month-old, 12-pound baby whose mother kept him wrapped in a blanket most of the time was off the mark.
Having worked as a child abuse/neglect investigator, I can tell you that if Shirley had contacted Child Protective Services, we would have opened an investigation based on Petey’s size alone. Keeping the baby wrapped tightly and napping most of the time also sets off alarm bells. If Petey is not given enough attention and stimulation, not to mention food, he could suffer lasting developmental delays or even starve to death.
Petey is likely the victim of physical neglect. Shirley should immediately report Petey’s situation to her local Child Protective Services office. Whether or not the child is being neglected, CPS will likely offer Petey’s mother some assistance and monitor the family until the situation improves. — Concerned Social Worker
Dear Social Worker: Depending on the child’s birth weight, 12 pounds is not unreasonably low at five months. And Shirley is only guessing the actual weight. Petey sees the pediatrician regularly, and if he were failing to thrive, it would be noticed. We do agree, however, that the situation bears watching.
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, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. 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 11.5.10