Dear Annie: My cousin’s daughter, “Julie,” moved her family of four in with my aunt (her grandmother) after my aunt’s husband died. It was done on the pretense of helping Grandma maintain her home and large yard.
In fact, the opposite has happened. They’ve created more work for her by making a mess, not doing their laundry and not picking up after themselves. Julie has a 5-year-old boy who constantly damages things in the home, and his mother does nothing to admonish him. The boy goes into Grandma’s room and takes her things, and when she confronts both Julie and her son, she’s told to lock up her possessions. This same child has hit her and cussed at her.
Grandma’s doctor has told her that she needs to move the family out of her home to reduce her stress levels. But when she tells this to Julie and Julie’s mother (my cousin), Grandma is told that she’s exaggerating or lying about the situation. I’ve been in my aunt’s home and have seen what’s going on. I am helpless to do anything but try to calm her nerves and clean up the house. Other family members also have witnessed this and commented to the same effect.
My aunt has said that she wants her granddaughter’s family to leave but can’t handle having her daughter harass her about it. She’s also worried about the little children because she is the one who makes sure they are fed a decent meal and get a bath. Any suggestions?
-- Worried and Helpless
Dear Worried: Your cousin and her daughter are taking advantage of Grandma. Their interest in her well-being extends only to what works to their benefit. You can report abuse of any kind — financial, emotional, physical — to Adult Protective Services in your aunt’s area. Someone will investigate the situation. You also can call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 for resources. However, your aunt may choose not to cooperate with the authorities, in which case, please visit as often as possible, keeping an eye on the situation and making sure your cousin and her daughter are aware that you are watching.
Dear Annie: Four years ago, our then 30-year-old son fell in love with a woman he met online. They are now engaged, but her estranged father is not invited to the wedding.
Our son describes his future mother-in-law as a “sweet lady,” but has never met the father. My husband and I have yet to meet either one and have some unanswered questions about the missing father. Our son doesn’t seem to know anything and does not share our concerns. He doesn’t even want to learn the circumstances that led to the family splitting up. We worry there could be repercussions later once they have children.
How can we advise our son to know all that he should?
-- Concerned In-Laws To Be
Dear Concerned: Please, please, back off. We know you are only thinking of your son’s best interests. But the personal circumstances of his fiancee’s parents’ breakup are none of your business. If your son and his future bride have children someday and Grandpa’s absence becomes an issue, they will handle it then. It is unlikely that anything he discovers now will change his desire to marry her.
Dear Annie: I have a solution for “Mom,” who needed her rest but felt she had to wait up for her 18-year-old daughter to get home.
A woman in our church had four daughters. When one went out on a date, she gave her a curfew and then set her alarm clock for that time. The daughter would turn off the alarm when she returned home. Otherwise, it would go off, and Mom would know the girl missed her curfew, and she’d be grounded. This allowed Mom to get a good night’s sleep.
-- A Faithful Reader
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