Dear Annie: My husband and I are in our 80s. We have three wonderful kids, all married, who live nearby. We have always been close.
The problem is, one son thinks I am trying to control him. He never tells us when he is planning to go out of town. If we can’t reach him for days, we worry. He rarely answers his cellphone on vacation, and when he does pick up, he gets angry.
We believe, out of respect for us, he should give us a quick call letting us know where they are headed and when they arrive so we won’t worry. It’s not like we would call them on their vacation. I am certain that his wife, whom we also love, texts or uses Facebook to let her family know where they are.
Are we unreasonable? He rarely calls us even when he is in town. We see him once every two weeks when he stops by for a few minutes. We don’t require any assistance from him, financial or otherwise. I know he reads your column faithfully, so we would greatly value your opinion.
-- Concerned Mother
Dear Mother: Some children understand a parent’s fears and will call regularly, not only so Mom and Dad don’t worry, but also to check and make sure the parents are OK. But not all kids think this way. Your son interprets this as “controlling,” although that is not the intent. He otherwise seems to be a good son, so please try to compromise.
Some people avoid phone calls because they require an actual conversation. Perhaps he or his wife would be willing to send a group text or email to both sides of the family, including you or one of your other children, who could then let you know he’s out of town. Ask whether this would work better for him. (Facebook is not a good way to do this — strangers can learn that your house is unoccupied.)
Dear Annie: I have worked in an emergency department for 30 years. Please tell your readers not to call their local emergency room for medical advice. They cannot see your ankle injury, evaluate your potential heart attack, or determine whether you are having a stroke or whether your laceration needs stitches. Please do not curse at the ER employee on the phone when they explain this to you. They are doing this for your own good.
Do not call your local emergency rooms and ask whether they are busy. If you have time to get on the phone and “hospital shop,” your emergency must not be all that urgent. Do not call your local emergency room and ask how long their wait is. They are an emergency room, not your local restaurant. Thank you.
-- No Name, Please
Dear No Name: We appreciate your comments. Please, folks, they are called “emergency rooms” for a reason.
Dear Annie: I can relate to “Lonely for Friends.” I am 42 years old and happily married. I, too, have had trouble making friends for as long as I can remember. I have had only two close friends in my entire life.
I consider myself an introvert. I get along well with many people, but it never becomes more than an acquaintanceship. I was in a needlework group for 15 years and never truly fit in. I am involved in my church, but have not made any friends. I suspect it may have to do with reading body language. I can’t interpret the signals I’m getting and don’t realize when I need to make the next move.
Counseling didn’t supply any revelations. Over time, I have come to enjoy being alone. I love my husband’s company, but I sometimes wish I had someone to go shopping with.
-- Not Quite Lonely in Virginia
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