Dear Annie: My parents have been divorced for 30 years. Both made mistakes when they were married, but the end was due to my mom’s drinking. Dad provided for me and now takes an active role in his grandchildren’s lives, always making an effort to show up for their events.
Mom is a different story. She is an alcoholic. When I was younger, she constantly criticized me. I was never “good enough.” She demeans my housekeeping skills, my parenting and my appearance. Mom also has become increasingly negative about my father. She has something bad to say about him every time I speak to her. She blames Dad for the way her life turned out.
I have a hard time trusting her with my children. I attempted to make regular visiting arrangements when the kids were younger, but she would never commit to a specific schedule. Now she rarely sees them because making the time isn’t a priority.
Over the years, I have gone to counseling, and I have created a good life for myself. I have suggested counseling to Mom, but she refuses to get help for any of her various issues. I’ve also suggested talking to other family members, although she’s estranged from most of them.
I really am at the end of my rope. The few visits she makes are stressful and anxiety-filled. I have already limited contact to when I am prepared to handle her, and frankly, I don’t want to bother anymore. But I hate the idea of hurting her. She is still my mother. How can I deal with her negativity?
Dear Tired: We understand that Mom’s visits are exhausting, and you are right to limit them. Now you need to create boundaries for her behavior. If she speaks negatively, say, “I don’t wish to discuss this.” If she keeps at it, you can leave or ask her to leave. It might change her behavior, but if not, at least you won’t be there to listen to it. We also urge you to contact Adult Children of Alcoholics (adultchildren.org) for additional support.
Dear Annie: A few days ago, I attended the wake of a good friend of 40 years. She was in her mid-50s and died unexpectedly. She left a 12-year-old daughter.
As we arrived at the funeral home, we thought there was a line to sign in. Wrong. It turned out to be about 25 “tweens” practicing their cheerleading. These girls blocked the front door and the hallway. They were loud, laughing, taking pictures and running around. This continued all night long. Not one person said a word to them.
I don’t know whose job it should have been to tell them to sit down and be quiet, but I feel I didn’t get the chance to properly mourn my friend. There was no funeral service. Should I have talked to these girls or someone else?
Dear Still: Someone at the funeral home should have taken charge of this circus and asked the girls to be more respectful, and you could have spoken to the funeral director. But we hope it was comforting to the 12-year-old to see her friends there, even if they were laughing and taking pictures. It’s a blessing not to know death at that age.
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