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Mondays with Margo
Section: family, aging, relationships, sexuality
 
 

Dear Margo,
I am 65 years old and the eldest sibling of five. This is my problem: My younger brother, Bill (number 3) came out of the closets a gay man about ten years ago. This didn't surprise me, I had suspected it for quite a while. All my family want our father to know, and I am against it. Our father is 87, raised in a small town all his life, and would be devastated to learn that he has a gay son. Bill seems to be indifferent. When Bill does visit, he leaves his partner home, which is out of state, and the family acts as if everything is normal. Dad is happy and I want him to stay that way. We all love and support Bill, but I need some advice on how to handle this with my siblings. - Concerned son

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Section: abuse, mental-health, marriage, relationships, family
 
 

Dear Margo,
My husband and I are constantly fighting about how my family treats me. I do admit that I let them take advantage of me, but it doesn't bother me. He says he can't sit by and see them make a fool of me and "what type of man is he if he allows it?". He screams at me at the top of his lungs, with bulging eyes and red face. Sometimes I feel he might even hit me. He threatens that if I don't "cut them off", he will either leave me or hurt them. However, if I make plans to do something without him, he's offended and angry, saying that I don't respect how he feels. He will not allow me to do anything without him. He says that marriage is a commitment and I am not taking it seriously enough if I need other people in my life. I have already cut my brother out, now my husband is looking for my sister and my aunt. I get headaches and my heart feels like it is going to explode. He doesn't think anyone else should matter but us. I'm so worried that if I do what he demands (cutting off everyone), and if something happens to him, I will be all alone...too embarrassed to reach out and try to mend relationships that I did not want to end in the first place. Believe it or not, he is a psychologist, and doesn't feel he's wrong and won't compromise with me. I'm even afraid to accept invitations to family functions for fear that he will start an argument and insist on walking out and demanding that I leave with him or else. I really miss socializing with my family on a normal basis. Any advice? - Maybe a Doormat

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Section: babies, behavior, children, manners
 
 

Dear Margo,
There seems to be a new wrinkle in kids' birthday parties where the gifts are opened later. All my nieces are doing this now, and I must admit, children's parties are much more FUN. Fewer meltdowns, happier kids, what is there not to like? Two of my three nieces have children on the autism spectrum, and the intense emotions that go with gift opening made them adopt this technique early on. Plus, thank you cards are much easier to write, as they can be done one at a time, as the presents are opened. Really, why would you do a birthday for a small child any other way? - What about Presents?!

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Section: addictions, family, manners, children, relationships
 
 

Dear Margo,
My ex-girlfriend, who lived with my son and me for 16 years, died of cancer. Before we knew she had cancer, she moved out because of an addiction problem. We did stay quite close before she died. Her ex-husband, an attorney, took over her finances and the burial arrangements. I, being financially set, was okay with that. What really hurt my son and me the most was the obituary; we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son, who really loved her. Her ex-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary. My girlfriend barely knew them. I know it's silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation. It's not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice. - Jake

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Section: children, babies, health-and-wellness, mental-health, relationships
 
 

Dear Margo,
I have a son. He and his girlfriend are very close to my ex-husband and his wife. They actually babysit my son's 2-yr-old, because they're both on Social Security. My issue is this: my son's girlfriend has treated me like I've done something awful to my son and my name isn't allowed to be said in his father's house. I adore my grandson, but hardly ever get to see him.

It's like this: my son says he loves me as his mother, but on his Facebook page, guess who he has listed as mother? Yup, the stepmother. I'm glad that she cares for my son like this, but I am his mother. I get no credit for things that I did for him while growing up. My big mistake was thinking I should let my son spend more time with his dad, because I thought that would benefit him. My fault. So now I am paying for it. My question is this: Do I take a chance and confront either the stepmom or the dad? I've been divorced from his father for over 20 years. Can he still possibly hate me so much that he wants to ruin my relationship with my son and his family? I feel eventually they will ruin my relationship with my grandson also. So is it shut up and wait, or step up and lose? I've never talked to my son negatively about his dad. Not sure that worked both ways, obviously. Please help me to understand my own feelings, as I'm getting desperate for my right as a grandparent. - Sad

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Section: children, manners, relationships
 
 

Dear Margo,
The father of my best friend from the 80s and 90s has just died. I was told by his wife about twenty years ago that they did not want to be friends any longer so I have not spoken with him, or her, for twenty years. I guess I could have contacted my friend behind his wife's back, but I didn't, and he has never made an effort to contact me. I would like to send him my condolences and to tell him I know how he feels, as I recently lost my own fatheras well. Should I just let it go or should I contact him to offer my sympathy? - Gary

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Section: behavior, children, health-and-wellness, sexuality
 
 

Dear Margo,
My little brother (almost 13) hasn't had "the talk" yet and is extremely modest. When it comes to changing his shirt and pants, he won't let anyone else (not even our grandfather) into the room with him. He really needs the talk but none of us knows how to go about it, although we've joked about tying him to a chair. What do we do?? - Kristen

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Section: behavior, children, relationships, marriage
 
 

Dear Margo,
Every time we go to visit my mother-in-law's house she complains about how much groceries for my family of 6 costs. She rations out the food and I get yelled it if I eat too much. I am afraid to eat anything in her house and am often hungry. The frustrating part is she is really not struggling for money. They recently retired, but they also just bought an expensive second home by the ocean, travel all over the world, buy expensive things, gets way more retirement money every month than we earn, and they also inherited a lot of money. We are a family that struggles every month to put food on our table. It frustrates me when she complains, and I think it is rude. We recently started bringing food with us, yet she still complains about money. I feel like I am going to lose it. How do I handle this tactfully and at the same time get her to stop complaining? - Money matters

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Section: behavior, aging, manners
 
 

Dear Margo,
It really upsets me to see all of the memorials of flowers and candles left when someone dies, or there is a shooting, or a car accident. Why can't people donate to a worthy cause in their names, even if it's a small amount? An perfect example, if from years past: Princess Diana's death. There were TONS of flowers! This would have been lots of money donated in her name to her favorite charities. Just a thought. - Mary

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