Dear Annie: My mother has always had a rocky relationship with her sister, “Josie,” for many reasons. The final straw came after Josie stole money from my mother seven years ago. They haven’t spoken to each other since.
I understand that my aunt hurt my mother badly and what she did was unforgivable. I know Josie doesn’t deserve another chance, but I wish my mother would give her one anyway. Josie has changed her ways over the past seven years and now lives a very stable life. I don’t think she’s the same person.
No one in my family (including me) will ever trust Josie because of the things she’s done. But I wish my mother would call her sister and say that she loves and forgives her. My siblings and I have talked to Mom about this, but she always brushes us off. I know this is between the two of them, but they aren’t getting any younger, and they don’t have an eternity to reconcile. I don’t want my mother or Josie to have any regrets. Is there anything we can do?
— Worried Daughter and Niece
Dear Daughter: You are kind, forgiving and understanding to want your mother to reconcile with her sister before it’s too late. Unfortunately, until your mother reaches the same conclusion, there is little you can do. You say Josie has changed, but at the same time, you will never trust her. It’s difficult to forgive someone who has repeatedly broken your trust and hurt you, and not all reconciliations are beneficial if the behavior continues.
But you can ask your mother what Josie would need to do to get back in her good graces and then see whether Josie is up to the task. Beyond that, please let your mother decide how much pain she is willing to risk to have her sister back in her life.
Dear Annie: I read your columns about babies crying in church. I have a different issue. What about parents who completely ignore what their children do in church?
Last Sunday, there were two children, a boy and a girl, about 7 or 8, who spent the entire service crawling under the pews, lifting up the kneeler, playing catch, kicking and shoving each other and completely destroying my ability to concentrate on the mass. The parents did absolutely nothing. The father fell asleep, and the mother never looked at her kids, not even when they bumped against her.
Right before communion, they started pinching each other and whimpering in pain. By then I couldn’t take it anymore. I told them to knock it off. They stopped and put their heads on their parents’ shoulders. The parents glanced at me with astonishment. Meanwhile, in the row behind me was a single mom with four kids who left twice with the baby for 10 minutes and left the rest of her little kids alone.
Parents seem to think that their children have the right to do anything they want whenever they want. Then they wonder why the kids get into trouble.
— Fed-Up Grandma in Chicago
Dear Grandma: Parents often don’t realize that discipline makes children feel secure and loved. When kids are allowed to run wild, they don’t know what the boundaries are, and they keep pushing until they do. But we also understand that parents of young children can be exhausted. We admire those who are kind enough to engage the children in some quiet activity and give the parents a break.
Dear Annie: I never had a weight problem until I was older. When I read about “Concerned Old Man in West Hills” calling his niece “fat,” it reminded me of a T-shirt I once saw. It said, “I may be fat, but you are ugly, and I can diet.”
— Toledo, Ohio
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