Dear Auntie Linda, I have a dilemma. My divorced, 34-year-old daughter, Gwen asked me to help move her and her three children to more than five hundred miles to California where she had taken a job as an apartment manager. When we got to the address, Gwennie ‘fessed up that she was there to marry a 21 year old man she’d met online. Of course, I was furious. The man was shocked to find out about the three children. I tried to talk Gwennie out of staying, but she was adamant. Thank goodness, the children wanted no part of it and we left for home immediately. Gwennie refused my calls for two weeks. I got a call from her yesterday. She is staying at a women’s shelter and wants me to send money for plane fare home. I don’t have an extra dollar. I would have to sell my car to raise plane fare and then I couldn’t get to work. My thirteen-year-old granddaughter is looking after the two little ones since I can’t even afford a babysitter. I wouldn’t be able to feed them without help from the foodbank and church.
Gwennie has always been a pathological liar. I have no confidence that she is truthful now. Am I wrong to refuse to help? Worn out with Gwennie
Dear Worn out, Sounds like a good time for Gwennie to learn to manage for herself, especially since she is not believable. If she is in a womens shelter, she should avail herself of their services. You have your hands full caring for Gwennie’s children. Your first responsibility is to them. You might consider seeing if Children’s Service can offer you any financial help since their mother is out of the picture. They may be eligible for benefits as dependent children.
Dear Auntie Linda, My husband’s sister Trudy is ten years older than I. Neither she nor my mother-in-law has ever accepted me nor welcomed me to the family. This year, Trudy gave me a sweater she claimed was hand-knitted for Christmas. When I got home I found a manufacturer’s label in it. She is self-righteous and critical of me, often snidely pointing out my inadequacies as a wife, mother, and housekeeper, saying, “This is how our family always does things.” Should I mention that I found the label on the sweater? It might shut her up. My husband wants me to let it go in the name of peace, but I’d like her to know I know. What should I do? Snubbed
Dear Snubbed, Maybe you should wear it next time you see her and leave it where she can’t avoid seeing label. Things like that happen sometimes when you are a little untidy. Auntie Linda
Dear Auntie Linda, Reggie and I have been seeing each other off and on for a year. He says he doesn’t love me, but I know he does. Every time he leaves me, he ends up coming back to cry on my shoulder. Why would he keep coming back if he didn’t love me? The sex is wonderful, but we he never stays long afterward. I want a real relationship and want to meet his family and friends, but he says he’s not ready for that. I was offered a job in another city, but he has told me not to take it or I won’t see him any more. I really hate to turn the job down, but am willing to if Reggie will commit. I want him more than anything. Do you think if I gave him an ultimatum, it would make a difference? In Love
Dear In Love, if Reggie says he doesn’t love you, he doesn’t. You are fooling yourself. He keeps coming back when he needs sex with no commitment or investment. Do yourself a favor and get rid of him, whether or not you take the new job. Don’t waste anymore time on a man who has no interest in you beyond sex. You deserve better. Auntie Linda
Dear Auntie Linda, My step-brother and I got reacquainted at my stepfather’s funeral after not seeing each other except rarely since I was thirteen and he was twenty. He lived with his mother in Nebraska and I lived with my mother and stepfather in Indiana and our paths didn’t cross a lot. When I got a job in New York City, we became friends. Since then, we’ve fallen for each other. My mother hit the ceiling when We told her we plan to marry. She says it’s not decent and says she will be ashamed to tell any of her friends. She says people will think we were carrying on since we were kids in the house together. I have reminded her that we hardly knew each other, but she said it is disgusting. I love my mother, but she is very manipulative and difficult. I feel she is wrong to put roadblocks in our path. She also threatened to disown my sister when she married outside my mother’s faith, even though it was not my sister’s faith. She became resigned to that marriage, though she is not warm to my brother-in-law. Is there any reason we shouldn’t marry? Two-steps
Dear Two-steps, There is no reason you shouldn’t marry. People will think what they want, but you don’t owe anyone explanations. Chances are, your mother would offer objections no matter who you choose to marry. You will just have to decide for yourself, but her objections don’t sound credible. Auntie Linda
Dear Auntie Linda, We were going to be out of town for the holidays, so we got a young man who grew up with our son to and whose parents are our best friends to housesit and care for our dogs. We’ve known him for years and felt comfortable having him stay even though he’s college age. We paid him well to watch the dogs and maintain the house. The neighbors told us later he had a girlfriend over the whole time, though he told us he wouldn’t have strangers in the house. They had to call the police on a loud party. We got a frantic call that one of our Dachshunds had to go to the vet with a broken leg on Christmas Eve. Evie is an older dog and not able to move fast enough to get out of people’s way. I suspect she was kicked or hurt by rough play at the party the neighbors complained about. A good bit of alcohol is missing from our cabinet and we can tell someone was in our bedroom. We are very upset about the way things went. We foolishly paid Jerome before we left, knowing he needed the money for Christmas. We tried to reach Jerome, but he won’t return our calls. Should we tell his parents? We feel he should make good on damages. Mad
Dear Mad, If this guy is in college, he is responsible for himself. I’d make a point to let him know what a rotten job he did, but unless you are willing to sue, he is not likely to make good. I wouldn’t hesitate to tell his parents about the bad experience if they asked, but they aren’t responsible. However, they don’t need to recommend him to anyone else. He may just be a kid who exercised bad judgment, but I’m sure you won’t need his services again. If anyone asks you for a recommendation, be sure to say there were problems. Auntie Linda
Dear Auntie Linda, My mother is 54 years old and is sentenced to twenty-one years in the Texas Prison system. She has served seven years and recently was denied parole. She was unfortunate enough to be married to a man from a prominent East Texas family. He had brutally beaten her and put her in the hospital several times. She got an order of protection, but he continued to stalk and terrorize her. She was in hiding and he promised to kill her if he found her.
He did find her. He was pounding on her door vowing to kill her. She had called 911 and was waiting for rescue when the door started to shatter. Mom shot through the door, hit John in the chest, killing him before place arrived. Because she had just purchased the gun after the order of protection and shot him through the door instead of waiting for him to get in, it was first degree murder. She had also told friends she was purchasing a gun to protect herself.
My mother has never seen her grandchildren since she doesn’t want them exposed to prison. I can only see her once a month since it is a four hour drive one way. I have to provide her with funds to purchase toiletries, hygiene items, and feminine products. Mother is a model prisoner. She never wanted to kill her husband. She only shot him when he was coming in her door to kill her. She was denied parole despite her good record and regrets for killing him because of John’s family’s influence. The judicial and law enforcement failed my mother and our entire family. Thank goodness, we have been able to interest The Innocence Project in her case.
Domesc Violence is a purge on our family and society. I yearn for he day Mother can rejoin our family. Sad Daughter
Dear Daughter, Ths is a sad but all-too common story. I hope there is some help and justice for your mother. We all must unite to pass stronger laws and support victims of violence to break this chain. Auntie Linda
Dear Auntie Linda, I am a single woman who took three little girls through the foster care system. They were four, two years, and eleven months. They had two older brothers who had been taken by the paternal grandparents who weren’t related and couldn’t take the girls. I was aware Hallie had been sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend and cautioned of the possibility she might act out sexually. Before the adoption was complete, the middle girl, Carly, told me that “Hallie hurt me.” She showed me where she had a laceration on her vagina. I was devastated, and called their social worker. To protect the little ones, Hallie was placed in another home where there was no other child. We maintained contact with supervised visits. Losing Hallie was a devastating loss to us all, even though it wasn’t allowed to keep them together. Hallie went on to develop a drug and alcohol problem. She ran away to live with a boyfriend at sixteen and had a baby a few months later. She is at risk of losing parental rights due to drug issues and has asked that Baby Gracie be placed with me, even though she is still angry and acts out at me because I reported that she was molesting her younger sister. Her rights have not yet been terminated. I’d love to take the baby, especially since she is family to my other girls. They desperately want the baby, but am concerned that Hallie will be a disruptive force in her life and ultimately cause problems for Gracie. What is likely best, a totally new start, or the risk that Hallie will cause trouble? Want the Best for My Girls
Dear Want the Best, If you are up for the challenge, the best thing for Gracie would probably be joining her own family. If Hallie’s parental rights are terminated, you could control visitation. There is always the possibility Hallie might do well enough that Gracie would benefit from time with Hallie, or not! Only you could decide if you want to take the chance on heartbreak again. It is sad to think Little Gracie might move from home to home while Hallie tries to get herself together. Auntie Linda
Dear Auntie Linda, My husband and I have been married four years and I raising his five-old-daughter from a previous relationship. We have a three-year-old son together. After Sally came back from visiting her mother last week, I walked in and Sally was manipulating Jackie’s penis saying, “I know how to make you feel real good!” I told Sally and Jackie it wasn’t right to touch other people’s privates and told my husband, John. He said it sounded like normal childhood curiosity and we should just keep a watch on them. I know what I saw. What do I do? Mom
Dear Mom, Trust your gut. In a non-threatening, non-emotional manner, you and your husband should ask Sally if she has seen anyone do that before. If your husband won’t take responsibility, you must. If she has witnessed or been a victim of inappropriate behavior, ask your pediatrician for guidance. He or she can direct you. Hopefully, there will be nothing to report. Auntie Linda
Dear Auntie Linda, my mother died about six months ago. Our family had spent the last year caring for her, but I was the main caregiver. I never left her house except for a few hours at a time. Either me, one of my two sisters, or her sister was always at her side. We didn’t want her to ever feel awkward at getting care from outsiders. It was a terrible but satisfying part of my life, knowing I was keeping a promise to her long after she wouldn’t have known the difference. I didn’t want her to die, but thought I’d done my grieving day by day as she declined. The last two months she didn’t know anybody. I was so wrong. My grief is so heavy and oppressive I feel like I can’t get a deep breath. Every time I take a bite of food or see a sunny day, I am heartsick knowing Mother is gone, it angers me when people remark that I must’ve relieved. I don’t enjoy time with my husband, friends, or family. Is it normal for me to grieve so hard for my Mother. I don’t want to keep living this way. Mama’s Girl
Dear Mama’s Girl, The depth of grief you describe for your mother is not usual. By two months, you should have started feeling some lessening. Chances are, you have developed clinical depression as a result of the misery of her lengthy illness and grief at her death. Since you took care of your Mother so long, you lost track of your life. Talk to your doctor. Chances are medication will help. Be sure to stay in touch on your with your doctor on your progress. It is likely your dose age will have to be adjusted. You may find it helpful to rate your mood 1 thru 10 daily on your calendar to help you evaluate your progress, since it’s hard to be objective when you have bad days. Make an effort to do one good thing everyday, especially when you are low. It will help. Sorry for your loss. You will always miss your mother, but life will be good again, just different. Joy is attainable. Auntie Linda
Dear Auntie Linda, I am a sixteen year-old-girl who has never had a boyfriend or even a good friend who is a boy. I don’t even have a dependable best friend. My oldest friend often ditches me. I am so awkward and shy, I’d never talk to a boy for fear he’d laugh at me. I have no idea how to flirt or make a boy notice me. I am embarrassed if a boy catches me looking at him. I just look away, hoping he won’t make fun of me. I am worried about bullied, so try never to call attention to myself. I just keep quiet and try to stay under the radar of mean kids. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever have friends. Alone and Blue
Dear Alone and Blue, it probably won’t make you feel any better, but many kids are struggling just like you are. It is hard to judge if people will respond well, but chances are, there is another shy student near you in school who would welcome a friendly gesture. You wouldn’t have to smile or even speak. Maybe just make a point not to look away if you catch their eye. You can judge from their reaction whether or not they or friendly. A quiet kid is not likely to ask, “what are YOU staring at?” as a hateful kid would. Try being just a bit friendlier without making a real gesture. You sound like a good kid. Auntie Linda
Dear Auntie Linda, I retired a couple of years ago. My elderly mother lives near me. she visits often is way too involved in my life. Every morning she calls to see what I am up. If I have shopping to do, she often says she’d like to ride along it I don’t object. If I don’t want to include her, I have to make an excuse. She comes over several times a week and stays till I tell her I have to get busy. If I spend time with other family members, she expects to be included. She throws out broad hints to be included when I plan vacations, but I refuse to invite her if my husband is going, since he’d rather not travel with her. She wants to stop every couple of hours for a bathroom break and gets another drink so we are always looking for a bathroom. She wants to stop for a long lunch restaurant. Needless to say, he doesn’t want to make “old lady” trips. When I do travel with Mother, I usually bear the total expense since she foster the illusion that I am well-off. I wish I had maintained more distance since I retired since I don’t want to live and breathe my mother. She is intrusive and points out outrageously obvious things before I have time to attend to them. “You forgot to open your mail.” “Your tea-kettle is whistling.” “The buzzer on you stove just went off.” She is offended when I point out that ” I don’t open the bills since Joe pays them. That’s his business. “, “I’m on the way to take the kettle(buzzer)off.” Mother’s mind is not bad. She’s just too much at home in my business. She frequently tells me, “I never talked back to my mother, and I am glad now I didn’t” to try to make me feel guilty. I have to point out my grandmother lived 800 miles away and didn’t get much chance to butt in. How in the world do I make the message clear? Harassed Daughter
Dear Harrassed, Be frank. When your mom calls, tell her you don’t know what your plans are. If you don’t have time or interest in having a visit, tell her you don’t have time today, or tell her exactly how long you want company. When she is intrusive, be frank. Make it clear you’ll invite her when the time is right. She will be offended, but she probably won’t die from the shock. If she wants to go to lunch, let her know if you don’t want to pay for hers. It’s better to set limits than avoid her. Auntie Linda
Dear Auntie Linda, I have six sisters and one brother. Our father was a very difficult man. When we gather at holiday dinners and discuss our lives, as adult children do, my brother insists we are exaggerating in our stories of our lives with Dad. He tells a much different tale, glorifying my father and ignoring any flaws. Indeed, my brother was my Dad’s Golden Boy, but Daddy didn’t spare him totally. Several times my dad became enraged and beat him badly. Why on earth would he defend him? Mystified
Dear Mystified, Obviously, your brother created a better past for himself. There is no point in arguing. It won’t change anything. You know the truth. Auntie Linda
Dear Auntie Linda, my fourteen sister told me she is in love with her soccer coach. She has shown me texts and pictures from him. She has sworn me to secrecy and asked me not to tell our mother. I don’t want to tell her secret but I am afraid for her. What do I do? Sister
Dear Sister, this is not a secret that should be honored. Your sister is a minor and this coach is committing a crime. Tell your sister she has to tell your mother or you will. Offer to go with her and be there for her. Auntie Linda
Dear Auntie Linda, We moved way out in the country a couple of years ago My family keeps cows and chickens. All us kids have to help with chores and work in the garden. I have to help my mom can food and make cheese and butter. In summer my sister and I have to work in a stand selling vegetables out near the road. My parents are building our house because they don’t want to go in debt. We moved in before it was finished. The bedrooms not painted yet and we don’t have hot water in the house. We use a fireplace in winter and don’t have an air conditioner. I am embarrassed about living like such a hick. Most kids I go to school with have cars and live in nice houses. I ride a bicycle. Other kids de get to run around and have and I have to help my family. I hate living this way. I wish we could move back to town. Country Bumpkin
Dear Country, Sounds like your parents are working hard to make a living and be self-sufficient. I know it seems awful to you, but you are learning important skills. It’s good to have fun and have great things, but it’s also good to pay your way. Teenagers are usually unhappy about something anyway and this way you can focus on your parents instead of yourself. If your parents are good parents and responsible, they are doing a good job. I admire self-suffiency. Auntie Linda
Dear Auntie Linda, My parents have travelled cross-country to spend Christmas Week with us the past five years since I am an only child and our children the only grandchildren. My wife’s parents live only four hours away. She is the youngest of four children. She and her sisters have eleven children between them. When we married, my parents asked that we always share Christmas with them since they’d be alone otherwise. I know my wife would like to spend Christmas with her family this year, but I hate to think of my parents being alone. My parents are much older and may not have many more Christmases. Is it wrong of me to Insist on having Christmas week with my family? Tail in a crack
Dear Tail, Just so you know, no one knows how many holidays are in their future. Your parents have already manipulated you into spending Chrismas Week with you the past five years. It is unreasonable that you not share Christmas with your wife’s family from time to time. I’d say she’s been more than generous. In a marriage, your first loyalty should be to your wife. Invite your parents for an alternate time, either before or after the holiday. People celebrate on other days all the time. Auntie Linda
Dear Auntie Linda. We can own to visit my parents at Christmas this year. We havea toddler and an infant. I want to get a hotel room instead of staying at their house. They have a cat and dog who climb everywhere and I don’t want them hopping all over the kids bedding. My father also snores horribly and disturbs our rest. My parents are very upset that we won’t be spending the night. We will go over to spend our day. Is it awful to refuse to stay with them? Our visit last year seemed endless and none of us got any sleep. In the doghouse.
Dear Doghouse, No, it’s your visit and your decision. Everyone needs their sleep and some private time. Do what’s best for you and your family, but I’d pay for the room myself! Auntie Linda