Dear Annie: When my daughter, “Caryn,” was 18, she ran off with a fellow and eloped. We had no contact for six months. A year later, she gave birth to a son. Within two weeks, she was divorced and living with us.
We helped raise “Noah” while Caryn finished school. She then married “Vince” and moved out. Everything was fine until they had their first child. Suddenly, Noah was a liability, and when he was 12, they put him in a mental institution. I think Vince told her to get rid of the boy. After a few days at the institution, counselors discovered Vince had been using our grandson as a punching bag. He’s been living with us ever since. Caryn spends a few hours a month with him and I guess that makes her feel she’s fulfilled her parental duties.
Noah is in high school now, making good grades, and all he would like is a little attention from his mother. I’m afraid this is never going to happen because Vince is a control freak. They have two children, and if we don’t do everything Vince says, he won’t let us see them. He has threatened to leave Caryn and take the kids. Vince has a lot of powerful connections in this town. My daughter is terrified of him.
We contacted Noah’s birth father and he has re-established a relationship with his son, which is good. Right now, we are prohibited from seeing the other grandchildren because I bought one of them a stuffed toy to play with at my house and Vince accused me of teaching them to hide things from him. As much as I love the kids, I’ve decided it is not worth the fight. Is there anything I can do? — My Heart Stays Broken
Dear Broken Heart: We think those grandchildren are worth fighting for. Caryn isn’t likely to spend more time with Noah, but frankly, he’s better off with you, so don’t emphasize her absence. Help him accept her as she is. Try not to rile Vince so your home can be a safe haven for Caryn and the other grandchildren. Then call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (ndvh.org) at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) and ask what you can do to protect your daughter and her children.
Dear Annie: My mother-in-law has been hospitalized for several weeks and my husband spends all his time with her. He’s at her side from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. every day. We have a 7-month-old son and my husband is never around. He has hired caregivers for his mother, but she always wants him by her side and he says he will be, even if it’s 24/7.
I know he is a devoted son, but he also has a family of his own, which he is putting last. I could use a break, too, since our son is a real handful. I’m not sure if I should be upset or think he’s noble. I’m afraid he’ll think I’m selfish if I speak up. — Really Tired
Dear Tired: If Mom is recovering from a surgical procedure and is going to be fine, your husband should not be neglecting his family. He can visit her (so can you), but he must devote some of his time to you and your son, especially on weekends. It might help to have one of Mom’s doctors or the hospital chaplain intervene. If, however, Mom is terminal, please allow your husband to spend as much time with her as he needs. He’ll appreciate your support and understanding.
Dear Annie: I had to laugh at the letter from the woman who said she used recordings of crickets, waves and wind to drown out her husband’s snoring. If that works, her husband’s not much of a snorer. I’d have to use a recording of cannon fire. — Sleepless in Palmdale, Calif.
Dear Palmdale: As long as you don’t blast the 1812 Overture and wake the neighbors. Thanks for the laugh.
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 3.18.08