Dear Margo: Politics and Religion — Again

Should I end my friendship of almost 50 years — over politics? Margo Howard’s advice

Politics and Religion — Again

Dear Margo: “Ellie” and I have been friends for nearly 50 years. We have been through much together, even though we live in different states. However, we have never been able to discuss politics or religion since we are diametrically opposed in these areas. I long ago accepted that limit on the friendship.

Recently, I invited her to visit for three days to see a special art exhibit, attend a cooking class and have dinner with my friends here. We had a great time until she went on a political diatribe one evening while we were watching the news. I had to ask her to stop screaming at me, even though I was not participating in the dialogue. After she went home, she sent an e-mail that reawakened my hurt feelings, and unfortunately, I responded in kind. However, after a few exchanges, we both apologized, and I thought we were ready to move on.

It’s now been more than a month, and she is still reading and re-reading the e-mails and demanding I respond to her. This upsets me and makes me overly anxious. I keep telling her it’s over for me and asking her to move on, but she refuses to accept this. I don’t know what to do besides refusing further discussion and giving her time to work it out for herself. It’s all so exhausting. –Flummoxed

Dear Flum: People who can’t let go can really gum up a friendship, and I think that has already happened in your case. You do not need to defend yourself or go through a rerun of your differences. As for her “demanding” that you respond, well, stick to your guns. What can she do — send you to your room? I fear the friendship had a shelf life of 50 years, which ain’t bad. And do bear in mind that age does nothing to smooth over these kinds of situations. If an announcement of severed relations is required, make it. –Margo, philosophically

On Being Nagged To Have Children!

Dear Margo: Lately, I’ve realized my mother is not talking to me. It all started when she launched into a rant about how I wasn’t giving her grandchildren. It’s really been frustrating! Along with this, I have to deal with a proposal. I do not think I’m ready for marriage yet, but my current boyfriend (of four years) has been pressuring me. Sometimes I just want to say to my mother, “Whoa! Slow down. I don’t know if I even want to marry this man … so having kids is a whole step ahead.” She is constantly “reminding” me that she got married at 20 and gave birth to me at 23. She is making me seriously nervous. –Louisa

Dear Lou: In your circumstances, I would be grateful my mother wasn’t talking to me. She is way off base to push you to marry so she can have grandchildren. Frankly, I’ve never understood parents (and fathers can be just as bad) who are so eager for grands that they badger their kids — and you are not even married yet.

Tune her out, dear, and you might consider informing her that 1) you’ve not decided on a husband, 2) you find it intrusive for her to be pushing you for reasons having to do with her desires, and 3) when it’s time for her to go shopping for little things, you will let her know. Continue to go at your own speed. You are wise to resist pressure, and I hope the grandmother-in-waiting gets a grip. –Margo, decisively

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to dearmargo@creators.com. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.

COPYRIGHT 2011 MARGO HOWARD
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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72 comments so far.

  1. avatar Violet says:

    I know there are lots of friends and even spouses who have opposing views on politics and get along fine, but for me, I end up more comfortable spending quality time with like-minded people. It’s not that I’m closed minded and don’t want to hear opposing views, or that I don’t socialize with people with opposing views; it’s more that my (liberal) beliefs are such a large part of who I am that it’s unlikely I would stay super close to someone who didn’t share them, or at least who was not on the polar opposite of the spectrum.

    I was dating one guy who was far more conservative, and we would get into huge arguments watching political shows to the point where it was exhausting. Maybe it’s because I’m a trial lawyer by profession and have to be an adversary that in my spare time that I’d rather have one less thing on which to disagree with someone with whom I am close.

    Anyhow, the friend who won’t let go, and who is trying to impose her world view on the LW does not sound like a keeper.

    • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

      I hear you and completely agree. And I’ve found it’s usually conservatives who most loudly try to force their ideas down your throat, other posters can jump all over me about this, but sorry, it’s true in my experience.

      • avatar Violet says:

        Thanks. I thought everyone would jump down my throat over this post. :) I think I used a double negative in there. I meant “was on the polar opposite end” not “was not”.

      • avatar BeanCounter says:

        oh honey.   Liberals can be just as bad.  

      • avatar luna midden says:

        It does not matter if you are CONSERVATIVE OR LIBERAL, the other side always looks like the out of control lunatic if ‘taunted’ the right way.
        There are many many Liberal sites now. Sign into a few of them. Post a line like ‘I am so upset with all the hate towards Ann Coulter, she is such an intelligent Woman who is spot on with her views. ‘ AND CHECK BACK IN ON THE SITES IN ABOUT AN HOUR OR SO…. 

        Now for the conservatives, again, so many, (make sure you find Rush’s site) and make a remark like  ‘  Among all theh Presidents, President Barack Obama has brought so many people together and this is among the world. He is going to go down as the best President this country EVER Had, close to Jesus Christ….. and check back again, in a hour or so…. and the hate again will fly

      • avatar Lym BO says:

        That’s funny, Luna!

      • avatar Laurtew says:

        I won’t jump all over you, but I will disagree. I’m conservative. I don’t care what anyone else is. I’m sure that liberals are as set and comfortable in their views as I am in mine and I honestly think they feel they are doing the right thing for the world as a whole, just as I do.

        That said, I am constantly having to fend of people who when they find out my views. They tell me I am evil and a racist and homophobic and want everyone to die and they just won’t let it go. I politely tell them that they are wrong, but they are too busy trying to teach me the error of my ways to listen.

        But what I go through is nothing compared to what my 20 year old daughter faces. She goes to college and if she expresses a differing opinion or asks a question about the stated belief, everyone in the class, including the professor, will belittle her, call her small minded, and talk to her like she is slow and stupid. It’s to the point where she is afraid to speak up anymore.

        I know conservatives can be confrontational too. I’m not going to pretend none are. But it stuns me how much anger and hate that I and my daughter have to face when people find out that we don’t see the world the same way they do.

        I honestly feel people on both sides of the political fence are passionate in equal numbers. But that is just my experience.

      • avatar Rapunzel says:

        I have to agree with you. I am not conservative but I find that there are a lot of liberals out there who are exactly how you describe. My husband and I were blacklisted by some friends for a while because we asked to not receive any more angry political emails. It is not even that we disagreed with the posts we just don’t want that much negativity in our lives. You are right, if you are so angry do something about it stop +itching and bringing everyone down. I also find that the most energetically angry and outspoken liberals are the ones who take more than they give to society. Complain to me about taxes when you damn well pay them then your ‘opinion’ would be more valid.

      • avatar Rapunzel says:

        Actually, I should not have said more valid, I should have said more balanced. People who drain the system rather than pay into it always want more. IF they paid they would understand why some of us are not outraged when an illegal immigrant sucking up tax dollars for years does not deserve citizenship or more of my hard earned dollars.

      • avatar LaurieF says:

        I won’t jump down your throat, but I will say that my experience is exactly the opposite.  Perhaps that’s because you don’t agree with the conservative view that you see it as forcing their ideas on you, and vice versa for me?  I usually try to stay out of political conversations because I have a large number of liberal thinking friends, and there are so many other things we could be talking about.  I think we can all get along even when we have differing opinions.  But – again – many liberal minded people I know don’t agree.  An example – yes, I’d love it if our country could afford to give quality health care to everyone who doesn’t have it.  But our taxes would be raised through the roof eventually to cover the cost.  We simply can’t afford it.  I’m pretty sure that raised the hair on the back of your neck, but it’s how I feel. 

    • avatar Anne Whitacre says:

      I did have a friendship of 25 years that ended over politics — and it came from the liberal side.  I’m pretty liberal, but I do not live and breathe politics — I just sort of ignore it much of the time.  However, during Bush’s term (the second one) I had liberal friends who sent me email after email — every day — about the evils of the Republican party and vituperative comments about Bush, Cheney and various other politicos.   I asked to be off the mailing list for these diatribes (who wants this much anger in their daily email?  not me) and was accused of “not caring about our country”.  When I suggested that all that anger go into actually doing something about those issues — volunteering, contributing money, whatever — I was told again that I didnt’ care enough.  That friendship ended a few years ago.
      I do not occupy my time doing political things.  I don’t volunteer for campaigns; I give my money to other issues, and I figure if you’re going incessantly angry over politics, you should get up and do something about.  “Discussing” politics daily doesn’t do anything, and yammering about a world view doesn’t move anything forward without action.
       

    • avatar Laurtew says:

      No, I totally get that. I think we spend enough of our time every day having to defend who we are and what we believe, trying to prove that we can do the job and are good people, that when we are ready to relax, we don’t want another debate. I know I don’t. And it’s easier to relax if you know that one wrong topic won’t send everyone into a fight.

      I don’t think it’s small minded to prefer the company of people who think like you. I think it’s human nature. :)

  2. avatar Kate Olsen says:

    LW1 – perhaps you need to take her age into consideration.  Sadly to say that some elders lose it as they get older.  If this is behaviour that she has never shown before, perhaps you need to alert her family.  She may be suffering early dementia or Alzeihmers.  For someone you have known for 50 years to react like that – raises red flags to me.  I am actually upset that Margo did not offer this opinion as well.  Anyone who has a abrupt change of behavior, especially after so many years of friendship, well – we need to wonder what is going on. 

    • avatar Violet says:

      That’s an interesting take I hadn’t thought of.

    • avatar Jessica J says:

      I agree. I know it sounds “ageist” but I’ve noticed my parents, who are in their seventies, have become much more vehement about ANY hot button topics in recent years. Politics and religion are the favorite areas for outrage and angst, and there seems to be a return to the age of adolescence where emotion trumps reason. They were never like this before, and my sister, husband, and brother-in-law agree. We’ve noticed other areas where they aren’t as sharp as we know them to be and have concluded that they are just getting older. We love them, listen to the diatribes when necessary and ignore the inbox tomes. It’s the only way to cope. I guess our turn will come someday . . .

    • avatar Kathy says:

      “I had to ask her to stop screaming at me” was the biggest clue, here.  That is not normal behavior.  I find it curious that a friend of 50 years wouldn’t pick up that something else is likely going on, here.  It may indeed be some form of dementia or TIAs, but it could also be a life event that has just rattled this woman to the core.  Regardless, LW1 needs to separate the friend from the behavior (in other words, just ignore the emails, tirades, etc.) and try to figure out what may be going on.  Fifty years of friendship seems worth that.

    • avatar willowfen1 says:

      Thanks for all the comments on this matter. However, this behavior has been going on for YEARS…this by far was not the first time. Now that I am out of the realtionship, I realize how uptight and tense I would always be at the thought of getting together: I would steer conversations to children, grandchildren and work. I always said it was a “limited friendship”. So dementia is not at issue here, but that is a good thought based on what was here.

      Her behavior a few years back when DaVinci Code came out and we read it for a book group was beyond wild. I kept saying it was just a book, but she showed up at the group with piles of books to back her thoughts, ready to battle anyone who thought it offered at least an interesting premise. When the first member spoke and said “it was just a book”, she put it all under the table. She was actually quite the liberal once!

      I guess knowing someone for a  long time, doesn’t necessarily make it a friendship.

  3. avatar Constance Plank says:

    #1,

    I usually avoid discussing politics if I possibly can. If someone tries to force me to discuss politics, I tend to respond minimally, because I’m d*mned if I’ll discuss any part of my life with someone who doesn’t respect me.

    But, I must admit that this interchange sounds very odd. And the fixation sounds even odder. With a 50 year friendship, you must be really used to the occasional disagreement being forgiven by the deep love you have for each other. So, I’d agree that with the fixation of her re-reading the emails and still being in the hurt of the then moment, something else is going on. Early dementia? Something horrible happening in her life where it’s easier to micro-manage the friendship?

    I’d inquire about this with her family members.

    My mother is 90, and is finally completely out of my world. She’s very, very, very intelligent, and was able to hide the signs of her dementia for many years. However, her mild to increasing dementia explains many hurtful things over the past 25 years.

    #2

    My mother had a bad marriage to my father, which persisted for far too many years. She hated his guts and kept telling we four children how bad marriage was, and how bad Dad was. She eventually divorced him in 1974, when I was 14.

    Okay, fast forward to1985. Mom has suddenly realized that telling us that “Marriage is Evil!” is not going to get her any grandchildren! She starts telling we four kids (25, 32, 33, and 35) that her marriage with our dad wasn’t so bad. And, she had a crocheted Teddy Bear for the first borne grandchild. My sister and I looked at each other and grinned, and said, in stereo: “Great! We’ll go out and get pregnant tonight!”

    Mom huffed and puffed, but the boys told her that she hadn’t given any other rules than child birth. (It was a glorious moment of unity between my sibs and I.)

    Be happy your mom isn’t talking to you, and decide for yourself, when or if you want children! My two girls have been the biggest source of joy in my life, but I sure didn’t win the crocheted teddy bear to get them !

    Cheers,

    Constance in the Sierra Foothills

    • avatar ToniH says:

      Constance – Your mom sounds almost identical to my mother, except she’s still married to my father! All my life, from the time I can remember, all I ever heard from her was how horrible kids are, never have kids, they ruin your life, blah blah blah. Went I eloped to my husband in ’96, first thing she asked was if I was pregnant, which I denied. She said, “Good, don’t have any kids, enjoy life.” Fast forward now to 2011. Still childless, realize that I’m definitely not mom-material as a crying baby sets my ears ringing and I just want to throttle the parent for allowing the child to cry. Even worse with toddlers.. never want to do anything to the child but the parent? They get some nasty glares from me for allowing the little one to wail like they were on fire. Guess I was born without the mommy gene. And, since I do realize that I would make the world’s worst mom, I did something about it: I got Essure. And I *LOVE* it. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. And, since it is a procedure where you’re anesthetized, I told my mom so she knew that I would be in the hospital for a little while (3 hours!). She fought me for about 3 weeks (I told her 2 months in advance of me having the procedure), stating that this is huge, this is big, this is life changing, this is one-way, blah blah blah. Finally, last time she started up, I told her that all my life I was told BY HER not to have children, and since I’m tired of being on birth control (was on the Pill, then Norplant (BIG MISTAKE!), then back on the Pill), I wasn’t going to have children, and since the local Humane Society will spay a cat or a dog, but not a person, I’m going to take care of it myself. Fast forward to about a week before my procedure and she lamented sadly that “she’s resigned that I will never have children.” Whoa Whoa Whoa, wait a minute here.. all I’ve ever heard from her was that children are bad, don’t have children.. heck, many many years ago I had to move back in with my parents for 6 months for financial reasons and she had asked if I was pregnant then. Told her no, she said, good, because she was going to force me to have an abortion if I was.

      And now she’s resigned that I will never have children? Sorry, but that’s a minor case of WTF (and no, I don’t mean Welcome To Facebook, either).

      (and she’s very upset that I’m about to have a second procedure called ThermaChoice to make *sure* that I will never have any children!! With my menagre of cats, dogs, & fish, I don’t NEED children! I have a husband to take care of!)

      • avatar Tonto says:

        Thank God you will never have kids! you think parents can prevent their child from crying, really?  Do you even remember being a kid?  Guess what? They cry!  They cry when they are hurt, or don’t feel good, when they don’t get their way, and sometimes, for no reason at all.  What do want parents to do, beat their child for crying….just to make them cry harder? You’re an idiot & I’m glad you’ll never have kids, even though it would make you eat your words. Parents should take their child out of the resturant, movie, church, etc. if they are screaming & crying so as not to disturb others but you are crazy to think they are to “blame” every time their kid acts up!  Hope we’re never in the same room and my 6 year old, WELL BEHAVED, son starts crying for some reason & you shoot me one of your glares, because you would get more than a glare back from me. Love how people with no kids think they know everything there is to know about parenting….

      • avatar BeanCounter says:

        most children don’t.   yours cries because you’re a bad person and don’t know how to raise your children right.

      • avatar Jennifer Mc says:

        I LOL’d–hard.

        Thank you for your sarcasm.

      • avatar wendykh says:

        Are you kidding? I have four kids and I shoot the same dirty looks. Nothing worst than seeing screaming children and parents doing buttkiss to solve the problem. Screaming babies with sweat pouring down their faces in snowsuits in walmart mom absent mindedly rocking the cart while looking at cheap ass purses, toddlers sobbing about something and needing some attention, tired preschoolers, screaming babies in strollers while mom is yakking on her damned cell phone, parents oblivious to infants screaming in a cart. One time I went up and put my cart next to a woman who was paying her infant absolutely NO attention, the poor thing was sobbing hysterically, and picked MY child up and gave her the “you stupid b*tch, this is how you do it” look.

        So many obnoxious lazy parents.
        So no Toni, in fact, I don’t think you missed the mom gene at all, I think the people you complain about sure did however.

      • avatar Laurtew says:

        She didn’t say that parents need to shut their kids up or that kids are evil and we should ban them. She said that the sound of fussy kids sets her teeth on edge and she just wants the noise to stop.

        I’m pretty sure she knows that kids cry and that there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s likely why she decided not to have any.

        Better she recognize that then we end up with another tragic news story.

      • avatar HauntedLady says:

        OK, Tonto, were you born knowing everything or anything about children? You had to learn and, frankly, having children is not a prerequisite to learning about them. You don’t know anything about being President of the United States, but I assume you feel qualified to decide who is best for the job when you vote.
        I put in many years of baby-sitting and many more years of observation and, yes, sometimes I know more than the parent in a given situation. And no one is saying they know everything about parenting. I know more than enough to know it isn’t for me, and that some people with kids should have thought again before jumping into parenthood totally and completely unprepared.

      • avatar Laurtew says:

        You know, it’s good that you can recognize that you are not a child person. Not a lot of people want to admit that and I think it takes someone mature to do so.

        My sister should have never had kids. She hates them. They annoy her. She treated hers horribly, telling her last son that she never wanted him and trying to get anyone to take him from her. They were told they were stupid and ruined her life, they were left alone for weeks when the oldest was 11. Why couldn’t she have just said, “You know, I’m not a baby person and we are just going to have a cat.”? Yes, I love my nephews dearly. I can’t really imagine life without them. But really, the way they grew up wasn’t fair to them.

        People are going to be harsh to you, because I honestly think most women think they *have* to have kids to be women. But if it’s not the thing for you, then I applaud that you recognize that, rather than put a child you resent through hell.

  4. avatar Mandy McNalis says:

    To the 2nd LW:

    When your mom starts in with, “When are you going to give me wee grandbabies?!?” simply smile and reply, “How about when you learn some manners and respect, Mom?” Then leave. If that doesn’t get the message across, nothing will, and if she’s already putting the chill on your communication, it won’t be much of a change if she gets offended.

    (And as always, I don’t like to pussy-foot around with people, so you might not be comfortable actually saying that to your mom.)

    • avatar MKE says:

      I have to agree. I love my mother, but she too has the “when are you going to make me a grandma?!” mentality. She is an intelligent woman, but sometimes doesn’t hear me…the direct approach is usually best with her, and the only way I can get through…

      LW2- but no matter what you do, dont marry the wrong guy because of pressure!!!! this is your life!!! make sure it makes you happy, because life is short! You will have to wake up next to this guy every day. Do you really want to be thinking, first thing every morning, “what the f**k did I do??”

      Find happiness your way, its the only one that will work.

  5. avatar MariBelle says:

    #2 – My sister & I, childless, are completely done with queries about when we will have children.  She is more diplomatic than I.  I usually say, why are you so concerned about my uterus (mother, cousins, aunts, uncle, etc.) and that person usually does not ask again.  It is the rare family member that broaches me about reproduction and mother has long since stopped. 

    So, next time your mother pressures you, feel free to say, “Mom, why are you so concerned about my uterus?” and I doubt there will be a follow-up question.

  6. avatar Brooke Schubert says:

    LW#2:  My Dad asked me once a couple of years ago, “when are you going to grow up and get married and have kids already?”  I’m 33 and happily single and I do NOT want kids.  I have an excellent job and make very good money.  I went ballistic on my Dad, asking him what was so wonderful about he and Mom’s tumultuous marriage and his own alcoholism, and what was so ’grown up’ about my sister and her husband’s bad decisions that led to bankruptcy and eviction who are now being supported by my parents and his.  He shut up and hasn’t uttered a word about it since.

    LW#1:  If there isn’t an underlying mental issue like a few people have suggested, let her go.  I agree with Violet that while I am willing to listen to opposing viewpoints and will engage in debate at times, you need to hang out with like-minded people in order to relax.  Debates can be fruitful, but they are draining.

    • avatar Violet says:

      Thanks. I thought everyone would say, “You are so close-minded only wanting to hang around with people who think like you do”, but that’s not true. I hear so much “noise” from the opposing viewpoints around me that I can’t even imagine wanting to spend a “relaxing” evening with people talking about what a genius Sarah Palin is. I think I would just start banging my head on the coffee table. Haha.

  7. avatar Barbara says:

    LW#1 – How sad that your friendship may end this way. I agree that perhaps age and perhaps isolation may have contributed to your friend’s fixation on the issue. You really have no choice if she won’t let this go. Just don’t communicate.

    LW#2 – I don’t understand people who expect their children to “give” them grandchildren. That’s not really the purpose for having kids, it’s just a side benefit. More people need to think before they have children so that every child is very much wanted. It’s not just to gratify some potential grandmother.

  8. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    I’m inclined to agree with those suggesting that LW#1′s friend may have *something else* going on and it could very well be the onset of dementia.  Talking with her family sounds like a good idea.  One of the symptoms of early dementia is obsessing over matters that ordinarily would be *put aside* by the sufferer as not important in the overall scheme of things as well as losing a sense of social boundaries.    The family may have noticed some changes but are in denial about what they mean.  I was with my mother and it took a call (actually more than one) from her friends to help me see what was going on.  She was also very good at compensating for her memory lapses and I would excuse them as fatigue, grief over the recent death of my father, or *misunderstandings* about dates and times because I really did not want to accept that my beautiful, talented, mother was slowly losing her mind. 

    As for LW2, if you are just *realizing* your mother isn’t speaking to you, it doesn’t sound like the relationship is very close anyway.  It sounds like you may be an only child or you are her only *source* for grandchildren.  If so, perhaps you should suggest to her that she could have had more babies herself if she desired to breed a herd of grandchildren.  Or just ignore her *blackmail* and live life on your own terms.  I doubt she will continue the silent treatment for very long and if all she does is harangue you about your life choices when she DOES talk to you, enjoy this moment of silence while it lasts. 

  9. avatar Lila says:

    LW2: Wow, one of my all-time biggest peeves. “YOU should have kids to make ME happy.” Never mind that it is the biggest, most life-changing, greatest-responsibility-inducing decision anyone will ever make.

  10. avatar Lila says:

    Mixed feelings on LW1. I don’t keep people in my life who make things unpleasant… life’s just too short.

    But… this is a 50-year friendship, and sounds like it has been a good one up until now. I think I would apologize for my part, say I regretted writing hastily and angrily, and try to get my friend to agree to just let the e-mail exchange go. Better yet, ask her to delete the emails.

    And… this is yet another good lesson on why NOT to send angry e-mails (or letters). It gives the recipient something to re-read and stew over.

    • avatar willowfen1 says:

      I did all that: we apologized to each other and then she started up a couple of weeks later. Anyway, it was over for me long before it was over for her. There was simply nothing I could do and I wrote here in frustration

  11. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: I loved Margo’s quip, “what can she do — send you to your room?” I’d simply tell my friend “I thought we had this matter resolved. Remember? We mutually apologized. Now it’s time to move on; I don’t want to discuss it anymore.” Apparently she’s one of those birdbrains who *INSISTS* you agree with her or EXPLAIN YOURSELF! Sounds like Gestapo mentality. Tell her it’s a bygone, remind her of the mutual apology, tell her YOU want to move on and not discuss it anymore; and if you want to get rude (she might deserve it), advise her to delete those e-mails, GET A LIFE and quit re-reading them. Regardless, you need to keep the matter “dropped.”

  12. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #2: Let your mother keep her quiet from now on. So she married at 20 and had you at age 23: Congratulations. Does she want a tickertape parade? Your life is yours. She’ll get grandchildren eventually. I’ll never understand people who pressure and pressure others into marriage/children. But then some people aren’t happy unless they’re making someone else miserable.

  13. avatar Chris Glass` says:

    Letter 1 – I have an older dear friend that started changing and I found her difficult to be around but kept up contact anyway. I’m glad I did because she was having a series of TIA’s (mini stokes) that affected her behavior. The fact that this women is in the age bracket where such things happen should be taken into consideration. There are many medical conditions that can affect people as they age to the point of turning peculiar in a given area. Maybe it is time to find out if this friend has been evaluated by a physician lately.

    Letter 2 – I’ve never put pressure on my sons to produce and I am the proud grandparent of two lovely cat children.

  14. avatar Cleopurrtra says:

    #2 – Once in awhile my mom would ask in general terms about grandchildren, or say she was ‘collecting’ Disney movies for when she had grandchildren. But it was never pressuring and I thought it was funny. She was content to have ‘fuzzy, 4-legged grandchildren’ from my siblings and I. I now have two boys of my own, and my sister has twin boys and a little girl – more grandkids than she knows what to do with! IF you decide that you want to have children, it will happen when it happens. If your mom is in such a big hurry to have children in her life, she could either volunteer for Boys/Girls club or some similar activity where there are children looking for adult mentoring, or you could be really blunt and tell her if she’s that fired up for a little person around, she should either have her own or adopt and take on the responsibility herself instead of trying to shove it onto you.

  15. avatar Jean B says:

    L2: I, too, will never understand parents who pressure their kids to marry and “give them” grandkids. When my ex and I married I was only 18. At our reception someone on his side commented that they expected to hear the pitter-patter of little feet in 9 months! Well, it was closer to 4 years. I ignored them. My own daughter got married last year at the age of 20. I really wish she had waited until she was older and more sure of what she wants out of life for herself. But I do like my son-in-law a lot so that helps and they are not planning kids any time soon, which is awesome. They are both determined she get her degree first. In the meantime my “grandkids” (4 of them!) are of the 4-legged variety. As much as I am looking forward to being grandma, I am more than happy to wait until they feel they are ready. They are only 21 and 24 so there is more than enough time!!!!

    • avatar amw says:

      That is too cute! It sounds like your daughter and SIL really have it together. Good for them!

      I have three kittens my mother lovingly refers to as her “grandkitties.” :)

  16. avatar amw says:

    I agree with previous posts that LW1′s friend sounds like she may be suffering from an underlying mental issue(s)s that needs to be addressed.

    Regardless, I enjoy having friends that don’t necessarily share the same views that I do. We respect each other’s opinions and indulge in a healthy debate from time to time. Sometimes it can be enlightening to hear a different point of view.

    I agree that it’s wrong to discuss such controversial issues in day to day conversation, but avoiding a friendship because of conflicting beliefs seems a bit irrational to me. Avoiding the conversation altogether so as not to have a disagreement shows a lack of trust and respect, and in my opinion, is only an acquaintance and in no way a friend. Political, religious and other views and opinions are part of what makes a person who they are. To truly say you know and love someone, you must know them completely and love them anyway, despite things you may not agree with.

    Just my input here…I can understand all sides of the issue.

    As for LW2, I never do like to hear the word “pressure” when it comes to discussing the rest of your life. If you feel pressured, you are obviously not ready. It may be healthy to take some time apart from said boyfriend to assess what it is you really feel AND what you really want.

    As for your mother, she needs to cool it. At this rate, even when you do have grandchildren, you’re unlikely to share them as often with her because your relationship will have suffered too greatly from her incessant nagging.

    I agree with Margo; it’s really a blessing in disguise that you aren’t speaking to your mother (or vice versa). Stand firm and if she does bring it up, change the subject. After a while she should figure out the topic is not open for discussion. Seeing as you haven’t made a decision yet in regard to your future, I don’t see how its any of her business to know that.

    When (if) you’re ready, I’m sure she’ll be one of the first to know. Stand your ground and take care of you. Don’t let anyone push you into something you’re not ready for. You’ll only wind up unhappy and more confused.

  17. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Letter #1 – I feel like this letter writer may be a friend of mind. I’m hoping I’m wrong :-)

    I am Ellie. I have super strong political and religious views so much so that people in my life do tip toe around me in those areas. Which is not a good thing. Luckily for me however, most of the people I surround myself with feel as I do about life, so we have common ground to build friendships on. I am liberal minded, but not to the point where it is radical. At other times I can be conservative, but never so much that I am rabid. In a world of Atheists that is growing each day, I still believe in God.

    So you take my beliefs and couple them with a woman that isn’t the least bit shy and is instead quite outgoing and outspoken…..yep, I admit it, I can be a pill when it comes to certain topics of conversation. A bit overwhelming if you are the quiet and reserved type. But 50 years…..that is a long time to be friends with someone.   This is a tough one. My head would normally say in this situation that life is too short to be with someone that causes you stress or grief. Cut her out of your life!  But my heart says, a 50 year friendship does not come along every day, make it work….make it work.

    Letter #2 – Mom is being selfish and unreasonable. Live your life by your own terms and if she doesn’t approve or understand, so be it.

    • avatar John Lee says:

      “In a world of Atheists that is growing each day, I still believe in God.”

      If that were only true, Belinda.  I believe there is ONE “openly atheist” nationally elected official in Congress out of what, 500+?

      In an anti-Islam Christian country, polls show that something like 80% of Americans would prefer a Muslim over an atheist as President.

      If only we were living in a world of Atheists, there would be no religious wars in the Middle East, nor anti-Christian, anti-Muslim hatred all around us.  One can dream though!

  18. avatar jamie spence says:

    LW2 – you think you’ve got it bad? Listen to this -

    My husband’s father has always been obsessive about having grandchildren. My husband had a crazy girlfriend when he was 17. While he was away for the weekend, his father moved my husband’s girlfriend into their house. When he returned, my hub was told by his father that he should marry her and that he wanted grandchildren right away. My husband hadn’t even GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL YET.  

    Thankfully, my FIL has outgrown this insanity with age. I met my husband ten years later, and although my FIL has occasionally badgered us about more grandchildren, he isn’t off the reservation about it anymore.

    • avatar careyvick says:

      HEY JAMIE….IF YOU’RE A DEMOCRAT, HOPEFULLY YOU OUTGREW THAT BACTERIA AS WELL.

      800 REPUBLICANS WERE ELECTED IN NOV 2010. THIS HAS DESTROYED THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. THE MEDIA REFUSES TO TALK ABOUT IT, BUT THEY’RE HANGING ON BY A THREAD.

      UNEMPLOYMENT IS BACK UP TO 9.2% UNDER BARACK OBAMA. THIS IS THE WORST PRESIDENT THIS COUNTRY HAS EVER HAD, OR EVER WILL HAVE.

      • avatar Carmen McNeil says:

        How do you jump from a father-in-law growing out of badgering his son to growing out of the “bacteria” of being a democrat?

      • avatar Mandy McNalis says:

        Where’s a “report abuse” button when you need one?

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        SHOUTING WON’T HELP PROVE YOUR POINT.

      • avatar Violet says:

        This reinforces my first post, and why I hang around with like-minded liberal-minded people. So I don’t have to be shouted at by someone who is totally right and just parrots a bunch of talking points they heard of Fox News.

      • avatar Violet says:

        I meant “thinks they are totally right”, not who is totally right. Oops. :-/

      • avatar Laurtew says:

        I see why you might say this, but the mentally ill people are in both liberal and conservative camps and you shouldn’t judge a whole belief system by the vocal fringe whack-jobs.

      • avatar Jennifer Mc says:

        …”thinks they are totally right” can refer to either political extreme.

        The fact that *she* is liberal-minded and prefers to hang with the same doesn’t mean that she would tolerate that kind of douchebag-ness from a liberal, either.

        I know I don’t.

  19. avatar Diane Shaw says:

    Re: Ltr. #1 – I’m glad someone else pointed out the possibility of dementia.  That’s what really came to my mind as I was reading the letter.  I agree, talk to her family and after a 50 year friendship, hard as it may be, your friend may really need you now. 

  20. avatar Linda Myers says:

    When I was growing up, my grandmother would reread, rehash and get stuck on issues or problems and not let them go. My mother told her she “just had too much time to sit and think” and if she would just let it go she would be happier. I watched my own mother move into that phase in her last years also. Possibly your friend has more time to think, than activities to occupy her time. My mother also had a group of friends for 50+ years. One in particular, it seemed like when they were together it was like mixing oil and water. They could not even watch a TV show in later years without turning it into a nigh long discussion period with both being red faced while their BP rocketed. Somewhere under that was a bond of sisterhood that not even all the arguing could shatter. Give peace a chance, if not possible – keep the good memories of time spent together.

    After my last divorce, it was not having children, but getting hooked up again that was my mom’s favorite topic to bring up when we talked. Especially pressuring to find a church and the social life it would bring to me. That was not going to happen. Finally, I just told her once how I felt and what was not happening anytime soon, with the stipulation that future conversations would be void of the subject. Once in a great while I would hear how wonderful a church potluck would be, but the pressure itself ended and was no longer a topic of conversation.

  21. avatar D L says:

    LW#2 – I too have made the decision not to have children – just not for me. Thankfully the only person I had to contend with on that decision was my father. When I mentioned that my husband and I had mutually decided not to have kids, my father’s only response was, well, why did you even get married? As you can see, my dad is very old-school in his thinking that the only reason for marriage is procreation. It’s your life. If you choose not to have kids, so be it.

    One thing about LW#2 that no one seemed to comment on was that her boyfriend of 4 years has been pressuring her to get married and she’s not sure if she even wants to get married. Could the indecisiveness be due to her mother’s badgering? Perhaps she feels that if she were to get married, she would be inundated by her mother’s insistence that she give her grandchildren. Just a though.
    By the way, to LW#2, if you’re really unsure as to whether you want to get married or not (regardless of what the reason is) you really need to talk to you boyfriend about it. It’s not fair to him if he really wants to get married and you don’t.

  22. avatar Miss Lee says:

    My mother was hounded into having kids by her mother-in-law.  My grandmother was constantly moaning that she would die before she ever saw grandkids.  My father & mother were her only hope because my aunt never married prefering to live with her best friend, Mary, for 50 years.  As a result, my mother never encouraged us kids to have children of our own.  She said that it was our business but when she did get grandchildren she was and is simply the best grandma ever!

  23. avatar David Bolton says:

    LW1: Is it just me, or is anyone else confused by this letter? I feel like some details have been left out and I’m not entirely sure what’s going on here.

    LW2: Tell your mother you’ve dumped your currently BF because during the past two weeks you’ve met (insert undesirable demographic and/or nationality here)—he’s the greatest man, and you think you might be pregnant, and you’re planning to get married ASAP. Of course, he’ll find a job soon, after his record gets expunged, and he quits the drinking.

    Well, the drinking may be a bit too much to believe—just go with the expungement for now. And ask to borrow $500.

    That should shut her up, or make her start talking sense.

  24. avatar NevadaFriend says:

    A friend and I are both the same religion and yet her politics are in complete opposition to our faith. I handle it very gently and politely because she is 85 years old. It has caused us to only chat a couple of times a year now and not go places like we used to. My faith is very important to me and it seems strange that she is of the same faith and yet is so mean speaking of various people and that we shouldn’t help others who are in poor circumstances. I don’t feel like trying to wake her up, even though part of me would like to shake her, but it’s just too much to be around. The only way to handle people like this is to step away. I have good friends and do volunteer work and help in many areas of life. Sure glad she isn’t my mom or relative, where I would have to be around her more.

  25. avatar Respite says:

    I do not understand grandmother wannabes who pressure their children to have babies. Have we fogotten how hard it is to bring up children and what sacrifices, along with the joys, are involved??  I told both of my adult children that they did not have to marry or “breed” to make me happy.  I want them to live their own lives in a century and country that allows us to actually do that.  They all married, well into their 30s, and married lovely people with whom they are likely to be happy for a long time.  And recently I found out that I am about to become a grandmother for the first time.  I AM excited and I AM pleased, more so than I expected to.  I guess there is something in the genes that makes old people thrilled about babies coming into their lives.  So it IS nice, but it was never a requirement for my happiness or my satisfaction in how my own kids turned out.  If you want to be a grandparent, don’t bully your kids, get a parakeet and teach it to talk to you.  Chill. 

    • avatar Violet says:

      I like your attitude, Respite. I am single and have never had children and don’t plan to. I had family members whose first question was always whether I had met a nice guy yet, like any accomplishment short of that would be meaningless. Thankfully, both of my sisters had kids, so it let me off the hook a bit. I like that you feel like your children should have their own path in life. So many parents I see want to live through their children and dictate how their adult children should live their lives.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        A grandmother who says “chill?”

        You. Are. Awesome.

      • avatar zenaide says:

        The family on my dad’s side is pretty big, my grandma had 9 children and 27 grandchildren. Twice a year we get all of us together at a big party. Whenever someone started getting around 15-16, they’d get these teasing uncles and aunts all over them, asking where their boy/girlfriend was, and to bring said person along next time to undergo serious scrutiny and bad jokes. I never brought someone over, and I’m 30 now. Most of my cousins are married or in a steady relationship since their early 20′s, and have one or more kids ( I think the greatgrandchildren count is over 30 now). Back in my early 20′s, I’d get worried questions about why I never brought anyone over. Now I have a successfull career that lets me travel all over the world and discover new places. All of my cousins except two have never travelled more than 2000 km away from their homes. And my aunts and uncles are now coming up to me, saying that I’m right in holding off on settling down and that I should have fun as much as possible while I’m young… go figure