Making a Choice Work
Dear Margo: My 71-year-old mother moved in with my husband and me several months ago. We invited her to do this so we could help with financial issues and also take care of her. She has an advanced cancer but is stable. She moved from another state to be with us. I realize I’m lucky to have a supportive husband who encouraged my mom to move in with us. She has no mobility or dementia issues; however, our house is small, and this is starting to take its toll.
We have no children, so we’re used to having our own space. My husband, who loves my mother, is becoming frustrated that she is here all the time. We rarely get time to be by ourselves unless we leave the house. My mom is also prickly. She can be mean and belittling — although I think she is working on that. My husband’s mom is the most generous, loving person, so my husband does not have the same skill set that I do for dealing with her.
I feel I must be the buffer between my husband and my mother and am turning cartwheels to keep them both happy. I shuttle Mom to and from her treatments, as well as some local classes and events to get her involved in the community. I also have a demanding job. I’m starting to become shrewish and don’t know how to stop. I do not like the woman I am becoming, but I don’t know what to do. — Discomfited
Dear Dis: I hope you take some pleasure in being a good daughter, especially with a mother who is not easy. The time, space and privacy issues can be improved. Hunt up a senior center where there are both companions and activities in the evening for her. Encourage her to live her life. Keep praising your husband for his generous instincts concerning your mother, and remind him (and yourself) of a saying common among surgeons: All bleeding stops. With advanced cancer, I suspect that you, your spouse and your mother will not be a threesome indefinitely. — Margo, philosophically
Favoritism Can Leave Lasting Scars
Dear Margo: I am writing about my 13-year-old nephew. He is being ignored by his mom (my sister) and dad due to the fact that he is not my sister’s husband’s child. When they got married, “Mark” was wonderful to the little boy. Then they had a child three years later. I’ve been noticing that the youngest is treated less harshly and more lovingly than “Jake,” who gets in trouble for even minor things. My sister lets “the baby” get away with a lot of things, like staying home from school even when she knows he’s not sick.
Jake has been acting out in school and is a very angry child. I go out of my way to be extra nice to him. I did learn part of the problem from my mom. My sister thinks that Jake is going to turn out like his biological father. How can I help my nephew? — Sad Bystander
Dear Sad: Jake is (predictably) acting out in school because he is a victim of what’s going on at home. And of course he is angry. Your sister and her husband have to be made aware of what their favoritism is doing to this young boy. If your sister fears he will turn out like his father, she is certainly, along with his stepfather, doing everything to make that happen.
You could try explaining this, but I’m not sure your opinion would matter much. There needs to be an intervention by a professional to explain to the parents what is happening, because they display zero insight. Try the school psychologist (if there is one). If not, there are child service agencies that can help. Good luck. — Margo, remedially
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
COPYRIGHT 2012 MARGO HOWARD
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