Dear Annie: I am one of 13 siblings. Both of our parents have been sick for the past four years. At one time, we had a family meeting, and everyone agreed to pay $20 a week for a caregiver, since we all worked. But slowly, my siblings started to bail out. The first to go was their favorite (and ungrateful) daughter.
Dad died three months ago. It was hard on those of my sisters who gave up their weekends to care for my folks and put their families on the back burner in order to do the right thing by our parents. Meanwhile, the ungrateful daughter and another sister were listed as beneficiaries on Dad’s life insurance policy. We talked to them about leaving the money to Mom, who needed it, and suggested they give her at least half. One sister did. The other, however, pocketed all of it.
How can she live with herself? Why are some siblings so selfish? What can we do?
— Saddened Sibling
Dear Sibling: We can’t explain why some kids turn out the way they do. The psychological factors are too numerous to mention. Unfortunately, you cannot force your sister to return any of the money or to be gracious enough to give it to Mom. Chalk it up to a frustrating and sad loss, not only of the money, but also of your closeness to your sister.
Dear Annie: I have an acquaintance who gives parties (birthdays, baby showers, etc.) for her immediate family, and the invitation always requests that guests bring a side dish. The party is never in her home. I don’t think she wants to take the time to clean, and it is too small to hold all the people she invites.
To throw a party for your spouse or child and expect the invited guests to bring a gift and provide the food strikes me as wrong. I was so turned off last time that I didn’t attend. She could easily throw a more low-key event. What do you think? Am I making too much of this?
— Living Within My Budget in Redding
Dear Budget: If you know in advance that the party is potluck, and everyone brings a dish to share, it is tolerable to have this type of party, even though the gifts benefit her family members. Where the event takes place is irrelevant unless she’s asking you to foot the bill for that, as well. You could, of course, say that your side dish is also your gift, or, as you did previously, you could simply not attend.
Dear Annie: My heart goes out to “In the Middle.” We, too, have a grossly overweight daughter and have tried every way we know to help her. I have paid for just about every diet there is, only to find her cheating. It kills me to see her this way. She is the most beautiful girl and has a heart to match.
She is now 35 and still can’t see what she is doing to herself. She has three children and teaches kindergarten. She nearly lost her job because she could not bend down to the children’s level. She is often at the doctor’s office. Her knees ache, and she can’t walk very far, but no physician has said a thing about her weight.
I know we must let her lead her own life, but I can’t stand to hear her complain about her knees and then find candy wrappers all over the house. We are so afraid she may end up with diabetes, heart disease and who knows what else. A parent never gives up on their child, no matter what.
— We Are There and It Hurts
Dear Hurts: It is not “giving up” to allow your daughter to see that she is responsible for her own health. All you can do is love her as she is for as long as you can.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, 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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