When Nutty Granny Won’t Take No (Smoking) for an Answer
Dear Margo: I have an issue with my mother-in-law. My husband is so upset with his mother that he says he will not have anything more to do with her. The issue is her smoking. My husband is a smoker, and so are others in the family, but we ask everyone, my husband included, to smoke outside due to health concerns. Our daughter has upper respiratory problems. We have a screened-in porch with comfortable furniture where people can smoke. No one has a problem with it except my MIL. She refuses to smoke outside. In addition, she refuses to visit unless she can smoke inside. She doesn’t believe smoking causes health issues. We won’t let our daughter visit her at her home anymore.
Now she has escalated this into a major feud, saying we are disrespecting her. She has said some pretty foul things to my husband in her attempt to force us to allow her to smoke inside. She’s involved the entire family, telling everyone that we have cut off access to her granddaughter. She has even called our daughter (who is 10) and told her Mom and Dad won’t let her visit and that she (our daughter) should talk to us and convince us to let her smoke inside. We refuse to give in about the smoking. What do you do with this kind of person? –Wendy
Dear Wen: I think this kind of person is probably a member in good standing of The Flat Earth Society. She is totally ignorant about the effects of secondhand smoke, not to mention being willful, selfish and engaged in a power play — which she apparently has already lost. There is not an ounce of doubt that you and your husband are responding correctly to an unreasonable request, and I wouldn’t give it another minute’s thought. –Margo, definitively
Some Things One Cannot Do Alone
Dear Margo: I feel terrible. I have pulled away from a longtime friend who is mentally ill, and now I am feeling great guilt. She was getting to be just too much for me, and I actually started to feel like it was “her or me.” I cannot be the only person in this situation. Do you have any advice on how I can either help her or salve my conscience? Her illness has turned into my burden. –Former Friend in Atlanta
Dear Form: Let’s call it fate, but just when your letter came in, I got another one that actually answers your question. I am, by the way, sympathetic to your discomfort, on all levels. The letter below refers to a fine organization (www.nami.org) that I have mentioned before. Hope this helps.
Dear Margo: My sister is a paranoid schizophrenic, so I unfortunately have learned how difficult it is to be around one. It saddens me that their friendships are usually the first things to go. My sister was sucking all of my energy, so I tried to create a little distance — but instead it drove her away from everyone. Now all she does is talk out loud to her imaginary friends, but she is not a threat to anyone but herself.
In my support group for family and friends (nami.org — National Alliance on Mental Illness), I learned about ESPs, emergency service providers, who are specially trained to help with mentally ill people who slide out of control. Because of their training, they have the awareness and skills to deal with our loved ones. This becomes especially important when you consider the number of cases where police have killed or injured mentally ill people due to a deadly combination of ignorance, fear and excessive force. ESPs can be called at 877.382.1609. In fact, I’m going to take my own advice and call them right now. –Sung Yun
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to email@example.com. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
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