Dear Annie: Eight months ago, our highly educated 43-year-old daughter informed my wife that she hates her. She put on a humiliating performance in front of her two children, a stepchild, her husband and us. We don’t understand this at all, but she now wants nothing to do with us.
We do not deserve such treatment. We have been good, helpful parents and grandparents. In March, I phoned my daughter and asked why she hates her mother. She refused to discuss it. Three months later, I wrote her a letter and asked again. She has not responded.
Our daughter’s first marriage was not good, and we helped her emotionally and financially. Is a therapist giving her bad advice? Does she have a split personality? Might she be in a cult? Is her husband pushing her to do this? Please help us find a reason for this shabby, disrespectful treatment.
— Bewildered dad in Illinois
Dear Dad: Your concerns are all interesting possibilities, but extreme. More likely, your daughter blames her mother for things that have gone wrong in her life. You may see it differently, but this is your daughter’s version, and to her, it is the truth. Please don’t argue with her. Instead, ask whether all of you can go for counseling together to work through whatever issues are troubling her, so you can be a family again. We hope she will agree.
Dear Annie: My neighbor’s tree hangs 15 feet over my property line and shades my crabapple tree. When I asked “Ralph” to trim his tree so that mine could get some sunlight, he went ballistic and refused.
Whenever Ralph and his wife go on vacation, I water their dozens of plants and take in their mail. I no longer want to do either of these things, because they obviously don’t appreciate it. I once asked them to watch my dog when I needed to go to the emergency room, and they wouldn’t do it.
Ralph got into a fistfight with the neighbor on the other side when the man wanted to install a fence on his property. He once physically pushed the cable installers when they tried to lay down cable for another neighbor.
All I want is for Ralph to trim his tree so that mine can survive. Do you think I should water their plants and take in their mail in the future?
— Unhappy Neighbor
Dear Neighbor: Ralph sounds like a loose cannon. It’s your decision whether or not to take care of his mail and plants. You are not obligated to do so, and he certainly does not reciprocate.
But about the tree: In most cases, it is legal for you to trim the branches that hang over your property line, provided you do not harm the tree. However, we don’t recommend you confront Ralph directly with this because he is so volatile. Do you have a neighborhood association that can help mediate the issue? Would his wife intercede? As a last resort, you can take Ralph to court. And if he is causing your crabapple tree to die, you can sue for damages.
Dear Annie: I felt compelled to respond to “Miss Lonely,” whose ex left her with two kids and she’s looking for love.
I was in her situation, divorced with two children. I started working part time, which built up my self-esteem. My friends and family encouraged me to return to school, which I did. I also got counseling for my children and myself, which helped.
Tell her to get involved with group activities. Surround herself with good friends and family. I am involved with my local church and belong to two knitting groups. Check your newspaper or meetup.com for local information, and step out of your comfort area. You never know who you will meet and the friends you could make.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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