Dear Annie: My grandmother died the day before I was scheduled for an important job interview. I’d received notice two weeks prior, and it said there would be no rescheduling of the interview for any reason whatsoever. If I failed to show up, I would be barred from being hired for another year.
I was desperate for work, and when my father called to tell me my grandmother died, I told him I was sorry, but there was no way I could make it to the funeral in the morning, although I did go by his house to see him.
I went to the interview (and was hired) and went to the house right after. Nobody said anything, but I could tell my family was disappointed. Since the funeral, my parents have been angry with me. I understand this, but work is scarce in my area, and I couldn’t afford to miss this opportunity. Frankly, if I were unemployed, I doubt my parents would give me any money, and it would be foolish to rely on that kind of help anyway. Besides, who wants to have to ask their parents for stuff when they’re 35 years old? I needed this job.
I told my parents that my grandmother would rather I secure a job than attend her funeral. But now my relatives are saying nasty things about me behind my back. Was I right to skip the funeral in favor of a job interview?
— Downstate Illinois
Dear Illinois: We understand why the job interview could not be postponed, especially for a full year. But we also know that your parents are hurt and maybe a bit embarrassed that their child didn’t show up for Grandma’s funeral. You need to apologize, but without simultaneously justifying and defending your choice. Simply say that you are truly sorry, and you hope they can forgive you. Then give them time to do that.
Dear Annie: My daughter turned 16 last week. We asked her friends to come to her party, and no one showed up. She was so upset.
My daughter is in a special-needs life-skills classroom with 12 kids just like her. How can their parents be so cruel? It’s so unfair to my child. What can I do about this?
— Not So Sweet 16 Party
Dear Not So Sweet: It’s very possible that these classmates felt uncomfortable attending your daughter’s party and lacked the social skills necessary to say so. Or, if your daughter invited them word-of-mouth, they might have forgotten or the parents were unaware of the time and date. The important thing is your response to your daughter. Please don’t turn this into a tragedy or a reason to badmouth her classmates. Instead, teach your daughter how to graciously cope with these disappointments and move forward. You might even try to reschedule a party for her over the summer, although you might first get in touch with the parents to be sure there are no additional difficulties.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Enlightened,” who threatened to throw her child’s things away if she didn’t pick them up. I was a messy daughter growing up, and my mother did exactly that. What she failed to see (and still does not) is that my messy ways, forgetfulness and “laziness” were the result of posttraumatic stress disorder due to years of emotional, sexual and physical abuse.
Parents should be careful with how harshly they judge their children, as they are a result of how they are raised. Yelling, arguing and throwing things in garbage bags often do more harm than good. Look for the root cause. There may be more going on than meets the eye. Perhaps she’s being bullied at school or is stressed about grades. No one enjoys being messy. It makes our lives more difficult, as well.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. 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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