Dear Annie: Last year, I was laid off of work. Knowing my financial burden, our son asked whether he and his family could move in with us to help out. We reluctantly agreed.
The issue is our 7-year-old granddaughter. “Lulu” is spoiled by her mother. There is no accountability for her actions. Her mother makes all kinds of excuses, and it’s almost as though she is rewarded for her lack of behavior and respect.
Lulu dislikes me because I expect her to clean her room and adhere to general household rules and manners. She gives me dirty looks, never says “good morning,” talks back, defies us, lies and blames others, and uses inappropriate language. When I politely asked her (in front of her mother) not to use certain words, she looks me straight in the eye and says the word again. Her mother simply says, “You were told not to do that. Now apologize.” Even Lulu can tell that Mom is insincere, so she rarely apologizes and still won’t stop using inappropriate language. And of course, there are no consequences.
Lulu is manipulative, deceptive and narcissistic and has difficulty being social. She shows no affection toward us and told her school principal that I am her aunt.
Our son has very little to say. If he tries to discipline his child, he catches it from her mother. My daughter-in-law gets angry with me when I comment on Lulu’s terrible behavior. How do I get Mom to stop thinking she’s Lulu’s best friend and start being a responsible mother?
— Annoyed Grandma
Dear Grandma: We feel sorry for Lulu. Her lack of discipline will make her an undesirable friend and unwelcome everywhere. Parents sometimes don’t realize that children who have no definite boundaries feel insecure and act out. Your son needs to step up and be a father to this girl. If his wife gives him a hard time, they can go for counseling and parenting classes. We hope you get back on your financial feet soon so they can move out before your relationship is permanently damaged.
Dear Annie: A few years ago, I discovered that my older brother has a daughter who was born back in the ’70s with an ex-girlfriend. I tried to get more information, but kept hitting a dead end. One day, I ran into the ex’s parents, who informed me that my brother didn’t want anything to do with the child and I would never be allowed to have contact with her. When I told her our family had no clue the girl even existed, I eventually got the young woman’s name and address. I wrote to her, but received no reply.
This child is now in her late 30s. Should I try again? I’m not even certain she received my letter. I don’t want to hurt her in any way, but I would like her to know that she has relatives who care.
— Unknown Family
Dear Unknown: Where is your brother in all of this? Aside from ignoring his responsibility as a parent, he seems to have forgotten 18 years of child support. We appreciate that you want to make this girl part of your family, but that is her decision. You can write one more time, saying you understand that she may not wish to get in touch, but you want her to have family history and relevant medical information. Give her what she might need, and say you hope she will contact you. Then let it go.
Dear Annie: I, too, receive cards from my newspaper carriers at Christmastime, and I know they are basically solicitations for tips. I always send them back a card with a generous amount, and I expect nothing in return. As I write this, it is 6 a.m. and 3 degrees outside, and my “thank you” from them comes from seeing my morning newspaper already lying in my driveway.
— Cleveland, Tenn.
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