Dear Annie: My fiance’s mother has a rocky relationship with both of her sons. We see her infrequently, but still, my fiance loses his patience with her quickly.
At first I was OK with her, but now she annoys me, as well. She brags about things, pleads to get her way, plans visits without checking with us, is sensitive to being told no or to anything she perceives as criticism, and is very demanding. She also recently pulled a childish trick. When my fiance told her no repeatedly, she simply called me to plead her case, knowing I am uncomfortable saying no.
She is in her late 60s and continues to blame her actions on a rocky childhood. My mother says to just be polite to her, which I try hard to do. But now that she is in my home for a week, conversations with her are impossible, and I feel I need to walk away. She has a psychiatric disorder, although I am not sure of the diagnosis. My fiance’s grandmother indicates it is schizophrenia, so I don’t want to push her too far.
We are getting married soon at a courthouse. During this unplanned and uninvited trip, she said it is too expensive for her and my fiance’s father to travel to see us get married. I am fine with this, but my fiance is upset that his parents do not care enough to make it work. They can afford the airline tickets.
I think it is my fiance’s place to explain his hurt feelings to them. Do I continue to be polite about it? I am currently working long hours to avoid being in my home while she is visiting. Is there a better way to handle this?
Dear Z.: Yes, please continue to be polite. We recognize that his mother’s behavior is difficult, but you see her infrequently, so try to tolerate her as best you can for your fiance’s sake. He obviously cares a great deal about his parents. He should tell them how important it is to him that they attend the wedding, but he cannot control their response. We hope they will make the effort to be there, and we hope you will be supportive without commiserating too much.
Dear Annie: Lately, it seems as if my siblings have been ignoring me, except for the eldest. I’m a teenager, and my siblings are older. The eldest tries to involve me in everything she can, but she’s moved out of the house. The other two go off and have fun, and when I try to join in, they give me nasty looks and tell me to go away. What should I do about them?
Dear Teen: You should recalibrate your expectations. Your siblings are not responsible for your social life. We know it hurts when they go off without you, but such rudeness is not uncommon. Learn to ignore them. When they leave, casually wave goodbye and be occupied with something else. As you grow up, this situation will improve, but it will take time.
Meanwhile, phone or text your friends and schedule some activities so you are less focused on what your siblings are doing. It also will make you much more interesting to them if you seem independently busy and happy. If you need help doing this, talk to your parents, your school counselor, a favorite teacher or other trusted adult.
Dear Annie: I’m responding to the comment from “Germantown, Tenn.,” about store employees being forced to stand all day. That’s part of their job description and how products get to the shelves. In the store that I manage, the older employees never have complained about standing all day.
Dear Manager: The fact that your employees don’t complain doesn’t mean they aren’t suffering. Standing is OK if you get to walk around, but otherwise, it is hard on the feet and back.
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