Granny's Advice

By Rosaleen Dickson, BA, MJ
Some of the questions sent to Great Granny have been sorted into the following general categories and are listed below, with her answers:

Parents

Dear Great Granny.

I need some impartial advice about how to deal with my Mum. My Mum expects to get her own way, to the point now of expecting my family to stay at home while she goes away for Xmas. In the past we have cancelled days away, moved family outings with our children and put up with remarks about how we have spoiled her day, when we don't fall in line. She frequently tells my sister and I, that the other is coming for dinner to hers, and expects us to join them. She says the other had this great idea of doing "x", all together. She criticises about my sister, my husband, my children, my mother-in law to me. She played up and refused to be involved when my sister didn't have the big society wedding, then caused an awful fuss when she couldn't invite who she wanted. (my sister and I organized my sister's wedding).

The most recent incident is Xmas. We are expected to stay down at home, while Mum goes away with Dad (we don't live with them!). My brother, who lives with my parents does not know if he is working or not on Xmas Day. To ensure my brother had somewhere to go if he wanted, I spoke with my sister to ask what their Xmas plans were, and as it happened they were staying home. I said my family wanted to go to away. My sister immediately volunteered to invite my brother, if he wasn't working. This was great, I tell my Mum, say my sister is going to invite my brother and we want to go away. The next day, my dad tells me, that I upset my mother to the point at which she cried all evening, and accused me of being like my mother-in-law. (no love lost between my parents and my in-laws). I told my Dad and Mum that, we were not staying home to wait until my brother knew if he was working or not, especially, when he had an invite from my sister. My mother accused me of being selfish and self-centred, not thinking ever of them. I pointed out that they where not going to be here, and my brother could please himself to whether he went to my sisters or not and what we did was of no concern to anyone anymore. It did get rather heated

So my mother left my house in a storm, and I haven't told yet we are going to my in-laws. In the past, when I haven't agreed to do as she wants, my mother has portrayed herself as the martyr, and I'm the evil daughter! She has gone on about something until I have given in. This time I will not undo, or change our arrangements.

To be honest I am fed up worrying about my mothers "feelings"more, than thinking about what my children and husband want.This time I thought I was doing the right thing, by my brother, so he wouldn't be alone at Xmas. I know that this will be throw in my face for Xmas's to come but I need to make a stand.

How do I cope with making sure my children and husband comes first, and my mother can not dictate to us when we do what she wants. How do I stop her causing trouble when things are not to her liking? I love my Mum, but not this part of her.

Dear "Mum's" girl,

You don't have to decide which is more important, your mother or your family. They are both important to you and you can save them all by being honest with everyone.

Tell your mother right out that you have made your plans and you intend to follow through. Tell her that you are not an evil person, that you care for your brother, your sister, your parents, your husband and children, and also yourself.

Since it's impossible for you ever to please her and she will continue to complain no matter what you do, just tell her that you don't intend to listen to her complaints any more.

Her family is not the same as it was when you were all young, and she ruled the roost. You are grown up and have other responsibilities of your own now. She must move on too and take on her new life without the children at her beck and call.

She is being cruel to you and the time has come for you to tell her that. She will insist that you are ungrateful and you will say that's not true. You will thank her for all she did for you when you needed her help and that now you need to live your own life and make your own rules.

That's why she raised you - to become an adult and become the master of your own destiny. Tell her that if she continues to complain there is a danger that you will have to choose between her and your husband and of course the choice will be your husband.

Let her whine and cry and tell everyone that you are not a nice person. You know that you ARE a nice person, but that doesn't include letting your mother ruin your life.

If you can gather the strength to tell her very definitely that you will no longer be ruled by her whims she will probably get sick for a while and blame everything on you. There may even be pressure from other family members, but stick to your guns and free yourself from her apron strings.

When the storm has calmed down, you could begin visiting her again, but wait long enough for her to realize that you are serious.

If my suggestions are impossible to follow, then maybe you will find another way to deal with the problem. But as I see it, you shouldn't let your respect for your mother ruin your life. She seems like a very unhappy person to me which suggests that perhaps her own life is not very satisfactory. See if you can persuade her to do something interesting - volunteer at the library, or the hospital, or join a choir or a church - anything she can do that doesn't depend on you and will heighten her own self worth.

Good luck,
GG

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Young children

Dear Great Granny.

My strong-willed daughter of four 1/2 years is distancing herself from her grandparents. Her grandparents have on occasion taken her to special events with and without me. No matter the situation, she gives them the cold shoulder.

This is tearing my parents apart, my mother (grandma) continues to give her unconditional love, but my dad (grandpa) is fed up with being embarrassed in public and the coldness she shows him whenever he reaches out to her.

I can't make my daughter love them. Another observation I've made is she's warmer (in giving love) to my husband's parents. They are younger looking and haven't been as insistent on receiving hugs and kisses from my daughter.

This has been going on for at least a year. When I ask my parents what I should do, they think I need to spank her!! This is the way I was raised and I was spanked a lot! I disagree with this thought. I cannot make my daughter do anything, but I can persuade her. Do I present her with privileges that will be taken away if she can't respect Grandma and Grandpa?

When my parents are not present, I often share funny stories with my daughter about the things my parents and I did when I was little. She's delighted in these stories and wants to know more about Grandma and Grandpa. How can I help nurture their relationship?

Dear worried,

Your child is very young, be patient.

For certain you can't make her love her grandparents by spanking her. You know that. In fact there is no way you can make her love them but are you sure she doesn't really love them?

Perhaps she just doesn't like to be hugged and kissed by them. Has it occurred to you that perhaps they have bad breath, or some other odour which your child is too young to overlook?

Maybe your relationship with your parents precludes telling them to stand back a bit and let their relationship be at arms length for a while. But you could talk to your child about how much your parents depend on her acceptance. There would be nothing wrong with telling her that if she will be especially nice to them you will be especially nice to her.

I don't think bribing her is a great idea but it could help at the moment, while you are waiting for her to grow up enough to realize that being nice to old people is just one of the things that good people do. Some young people don't like to look at old people for a variety of reasons which I'm sure you can imagine. It's too bad but it's a fact of life.

Try to minimize occasions with your parents for a while, during which hiatus you could be telling your daughter about the wonderful things they have done. Not only good times you had with them as a child, but things they have done to make the world a better place.

Create some family pride so when she gets a bit more socially conscious she will have a reason to respect them.

Maybe they didn't find a cure for cancer or build the Empire State building, but I'm sure they have grown a garden, or worked for the town, or nursed, or taught or whatever, and you can easily explain to your little child the importance of their accomplishments in the scheme of things.

Keep her away from your parents until she can overcome whatever turns her away and will agree to be their friend and respect them. There's no need to have them feeling badly about her rudeness.

Ask her to think of some ways she could make them feel better and praise her when you see her doing it. Also ask your parents to take her disrespect as a phase she is going through and to be patient.

Patience is everyone's best friend just now. I think this phase will pass.

Good luck,
GG

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Older children

Dear Great Granny.

Hello!!
My son is always getting into trouble in school and at home. I'm at wits end with what to do. We've tried everything we can think of, from meds, to taking things from him to family advice, nothing seems to help!!! Please help me to get my son Back!!!!!!! I love him dearly but I can't continue to go on like this.. I'm wearing myself down and not getting anywhere.

WHAT CAN I DO ????
SCHOOL IS ALWAYS CALLING, AND NOW GETTING DETENTION AFTER DETENTIONS .. WHERE CAN I GO WHAT CAN I DO????

PS. Please help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks,

Dear wits end,

Perhaps too much is being expected of him. Is there any way you could lower your expectations, demand less of him.

Go to the school and talk with his teacher. Maybe the school is also demanding too much. Perhaps he should not be trying to do work which is beyond his capabilities.

Talk frankly with your son about this. Ask him to tell you what things bother him the most and see if you can make his home life easier on him. I'm sure you expect your son to be tidy, clean, polite, helpful, considerate and much more, but maybe your standards in all these things are higher than he can achieve. I'm not suggesting that your son in retarded, but it is quite possible that you expect him to be a high achiever while he is just average.

Spend as much time as possible listening to him. Ask his opinion and then take the time to listen to everything he has to say. Don't demand an immediate answer. Let him think about the question for a while and don't interrupt his thoughts.

I hope you can get closer to your son and eventually find ways to make his life more bearable so he won't always resort to trouble-making.

Good luck,
GG.

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Son's girlfriend

Dear Great Granny.

My son's soon-to-be-wife makes all of the decisions. What she does in their home is their business but she tends to think she can make all the decisions in my home when she is visiting and assumes how things are without asking any questions.

Her three children happen to be 5 year old triplets and are a handful and it is a little much for me to deal with.

I have MS and am not too sure of myself or what to do. I want to be able to spend some time with my son's 7 year old daughter, by a previous marriage, but his wife-to-be thinks what I do should include all of her children too.

I have told her I just don't have the energy to do it all. I guess what I am afraid of is that she will stop me from spending time with my granddaughter.

Dear loving grandmother,

Since your son has decided to combine his family, which now consists of one 7 year old daughter, with the family of his intended wife, which includes three 5 year old daughters, you will either accept them all or just forget them for a while.

Since you are incapacitated and find that having the four little girls around is too much of a burden, I suppose you will need to find something else to fill your life for the time being. When your granddaughter is older and can get around by herself, she will most likely come to you from time to time. Children don't forget those they love.

In the meantime, since you don't like to have that young woman whom your son intends to marry around you or in your house, I guess that's the way you will have it. Don't invite them in if they upset you. Don't be rude to them, but just don't arrange any occasions that bring them into your home.

This means you will see less of your son, but he's not going to leave the planet. He will keep in touch, and you can too. There is always the telephone, and of course there is always email. You and your granddaughter can be in touch on the Internet so you'll never need to wonder how she is.

Probably this new woman who is marrying into your family will settle down eventually. If you watch her from a distance you might even discover that she's a good influence, makes your son a happy home, and will come around to accepting you without the need to change your whole life.

Make an effort to welcome her into your clan. Show appreciation for what she has to offer. Never criticize her children, and NEVER compare them with your son's older child. Try to enjoy the new situation and if you try hard enough I think you will find it gets easier with time.

There may come a time when you will be thankful that you made the effort to welcome your son's new wife.

Truly yours,
GG

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Grandparents

Dear Great Granny.

I have 2 grandparents that are very special to me. We (all the grandkids) are putting together a letter to them for their 82nd birthday. I would like to find a poem that is about grandparents and how special they are. I have looked in many plaaces but have not had much luck.

Do you know of any?? Or have any other suggestions where I can find something??? (I need this ASAP, as their bithday will be celebrated on "Aug 1st and this needs to be finished so it can be presented to them.)

Thankyou for your help!!!!!!!

Dear friend

For Our Grandparents -
Today and Always

Somewhere in the library,
Way back among the shelves,
Or downtown in the book store,
In a section by themselves,
Are little books of poetry
All about great folks.
Some are serious, some sad,
And others full of jokes.
But never have I seen a book
That told the story of
What grandparents mean to us,
And how they show their love.

For every year and every day,
Whatever we may do,
We know that they will pray for us
And always see us through.
And every moment every way,
Wherever I may be,
My grandparents will always stand,
Right there, supporting me.

There is no way we can repay,
The strength that you bestow,
Just by being there for us,
No matter where we go.
Dear, dear grandparents
All we can ever do
Is hope you understand the love
We always feel for you.

(Rosaleen Dickson)

Yours sincerely,
GG

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Grandchildren

Dear Great Granny.

Our grandson just turned two and I guess the 'terrible twos' describes him perfectly. He screams when he wants things. His parents and we try to talk quietly to him and sometimes get him to stop and say 'please' but often he is embarrassing when we are out in public. At restaurants, if he is tired he will throw his food around after eating what he wants, screams and tries to climb out of the high chair.

Most of all, he bites, (HARD) and pinches. The strange thing is he does not do this to strangers, only those he is closest to. His play with my husband and I starts off with fun and laughter and while he is still laughing he will suddenly bite. We certainly can't bite him back since it would really hurt him if we did it as hard as he does. The same goes for pinching. His mother has tried putting him on a chair for a minute as a punishment, and he doesn't like this but I'm not sure he even knows what he's there for. At other times, he is just as sweet as can be.

He goes to bed easily and knows how to put himself to sleep. He takes two good naps a day but his screaming and dancing, (as in tantrum) along with the biting and pinching is a problem for us and his parents.

Is there anything you can suggest we might try?

P.S. As a mother of four, I seem to remember that around this age, when my children misbehaved really badly, I began to give them a slight pain in the butt with my hand but the new child psychology forbids it so I certainly would not do anything like that.
WE need help.
Thanks in advance.

Dear grandparents of 2-yr-old.

All Twos aren't Terrible. It's not the law. Mostly it depends on how many people are trying to keep them as babies when they don't feel like babies any more.

He throws around the food he doesn't want, when he's tired. How about just giving him food he does want, and not taking him to restaurants when he's tired. Go to a take-out place and bring the meal home where you can eat it while he's having one of his wonderful naps.

You say he climbs out of his highchair. Get the hint? Let him sit in a real chair, like you do. If it's too low for him, that's what phone books are for.

I wouldn't worry if he doesn't say please. He'll get around to that eventually. It's not all that important right now. I don't think most adults say please every time they ask for something - but even if they do in your family, that child is learning a thousand new things every day and can't be expected to remember it all. Try to make his life as easy for him as possible.

He acts up in restaurants and other public places where it embarasses you. So - let's not take him out on the town until he has taught us that he's not a baby any more and really wants to be treated like other human beings.

Whenever you're going to go somewhere, don't just stuff him into his coat and lead him along; sit down with him and talk about the plan. Ask him what he'd like to wear. Ask him to help you decide where to go first, the grocery store or the restaurant, and talk about what you might buy, and eat.

Let him decide whether he'd rather hold your hand or use a tether to be safe in a crowded place, and don't order food for him, let him say what he would like.

When other people are with you, include the child in the conversation. If you talk "over his head" he'll have to resort to antisocial activities to get attention, so include him in your group, or leave him home.

As for the episodes when his grandparents are playing with him and making him laugh, which evolves into a biting and screaming fit, well, don't you think you are getting the child worked up needlessly? You could be enjoying his company doing something quieter and less inciteful. He doesn't have to be laughing. Try putting together a "jig saw" puzzle made by cutting an old magazine picture into large pieces. Or you could join him in making different tones by tapping various objects, cups, water glasses, bottles, toys - with a wooden spoon, or a honey dipper.

Make "kazoos" with tissue and combs and play some home grown music..

Think up some simple things to do other than just "making him laugh". It is probably gratifying to you because you think you are bringing joy into his life, but actually you are exciting him. If you were quietly singing some simple song with him I don't think he would bite you.

I'm glad he likes his naps. This suggests to me that he is resourceful and able to think by himself. I expect he is an intelligent young person who will bring you much pleasure as you watch him develop through all the interesting stages. And he is fortunate to have grandparents who care as much as you folks obviously do, but don't forget that right now he is the same person you will be so proud of in later years.

I hope you can enjoy him right now, today, at the age of two, because that's what he is, not a baby, not a future graduate, just a great present member of the family with a mind of his own.

I don't know all the answers. In fact I really don't know any answers that are guaranteed to work. But I hope some of the above will be of some help; even if it only causes you to come up with some much better solutions for yourselves.

Truly yours,
GG

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Mother in law

Dear Great Granny.

Until recently I adored my mother-in-law. She has always been opinionated but knew when not to pry and how to back off gracefully when needed.

Recently my husband has been suffering from a rather severe clinical depression. This is a serious matter that nobody is taking lightly - but he's seeing a psychologist and is on medication and things are improving.

Before I understood that my husband was depressed, we had many conflicts - basically whenever I asked him to do anything with me - spend time with me, get a hair cut, buy a cake for my birthday- it didn't matter what I asked, the answer was always no. I was perplexed and argued with him because I felt unloved and angry at being treated this way. Now I understand better that when he says these things it's a reflection of how overwhelming life is for him and the feeling that he can't possibly cope with a single additional thing, emotionally. We certainly never got to the point where I would have considered divorce or separation, though we did go to a marriage counsellor to improve our communication skills. So our marriage has been far from smooth sailing, and it's fair to say that at some point I even aggravated his depression problem, but I was never the cause of this depression and we've come to understand each other better and haven't really had even a single argument in months. I've been his biggest supporter now that I understand the problem. And we've both been pretty happy with our marriage, while still worried about his well being.

My husband is very close to his mother-in-law and used to tell her everything. At some point in the middle of all this conflict that began changing her once-favorable impression of me for the worse, and I asked him to find a new confidant when talking about our marital woes in the light of keeping my relationship with her a good one. I'm not sure if that was a mistake or not.

My mother-in-law is just now beginning to realize how serious this depression problem is. She loves him fiercely and it would be fair to say she's panicked to realize her son is miserable and needs therapy for depression. She has come to the conclusion that I am the thing making her son miserable and urged me not to let my pride stand in the way of considering separation as my only means to save her son from a miserable life. I was floored - is it rude to tell my MIL that I don't want her diagnosing my marriage and giving this kind of unwanted advice? My husband fortunately agreed with me that she was way out of line but when he tried to explain it to her she actually argued with him and it's doubtful she heard a thing he was saying. She did send an apology - for causing more trouble between us (she didn't) and she added a whole lot of other unwanted and way-off-the-mark advice with it. I know she's panicked and worried about her son, but how can I possibly get through to her? The message she's sending is not only a very painful vote of no confidence in me, it's also exactly the opposite of the optimism and support my husband needs to hear from her right now.

Thanks for being there
Shoulder Being Cried On

Dear Shoulder,

You are wise to understand the nature of your husband's illness. Too many people can't realize that depression can become a serious disease. Few are able to grasp the importance of not adding even one tiny extra decision to the person suffering real clinical depression.

Your task in living with your husband is not easy and will likely become more and more demanding. Even though he is getting professional help, he will always also need your understanding and love. As you have come to realize it is a real illness and you now know the part you can play in alleviating the symptoms. This very understanding and willingness to help will mean the essential life or death difference to him.

Now we have to consider the interference by your mother, or his mother. It's not clear by your letter which it is - you refer to "your" mother in law, and then you refer to "his" mother in law, but no matter; maybe it is both of them. Though she is trying to seem understanding she really doesn't get it. She wants to play an important role, to feel useful. She might, mistakenly, think that all his troubles would be over if SHE could look after him with you out of the picture.

But she has missed the point that every time she tries to help she is making things worse for him. She doesn't understand the basic fact that you have discovered; that he must not be faced with any more challenges. Even asking him a simple question can throw his mind into chaos. Your mother (or his mother) doesn't realize this. If she did, loving him as she does and wanting only the best for him, she would not be trying to persuade you to make changes in his life, or yours.

Try your best to distance yourselves from her as much as possible. Neither you nor your husband should discuss his condition or any other family matters with her, or with anyone else for that matter. Try to be present when they are together and abruptly change the subject, or leave, if it gets onto personal family matters.

Your husband is extremely fortunate to have a wife who understands his illness. Most wives just take it as bad manners, or a threat to their position. You have come beyond those doubts and will be able to stand strongly between your husband and all those things that make his life a living Hell. Nobody except you can do this. The more you succeed, the more strength you will gain, and the more happy, useful life you will both lead. If you are able to keep things sufficiently contained for him to fulfil some of his potential, consider yourself a heroine.

It's not easy. Living with a man who has visible handicaps is a labour of love and living with one with this unseen clinical depression syndrome is even worse. Nobody can see his disease but it is there with him all the time. Do not let that well-meaning interfering parent increase his suffering. Keep her at arms length.

Truly yours,
GG

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Daughter in law

Dear Great Granny.

I have a 10 month old granddaughter, and my son and his wife have been married for 3 years. Prior to the birth of my granddaughter, my daughter-in-law and I got along great, in fact many times her mother would join us and we would shop, go to lunch, etc.

Since my granddaughters birth things have changed. Most of their time is spent with her parents (mainly her mother). I work a full time job and only have certain days I can spend with them. Her and her mother are inseparable, they either see each other every day or talk to each other several times a day (my son works a lot of overtime to meet their financial obligations).

My daughter-in-law is now bitter towards my husband and myself and makes it very uncomfortable to be around. We aren't quite sure what we did if anything to create this situation. Before being a grandmother I read articles about being a grandmother and I've made a point of not giving advice, suggestions or comments such as this is what I did as a mother. I think it is very important my son and daughter-in-law make the decisions on raising their daughter. I'm willing to keep the distance for my son's sake. I feel he has been put in the middle and the last thing I want to do is put pressure on his relationship with his wife. We've always been a very close family and I feel this closeness is diminishing.

My question to you is, should my husband and I back off completely and let my daughter-in-law's parents be the only ones involved in their lives? My husband and I have dreamed of being grandparents and it certainly isn't anything like we thought it would be. Our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter are precious to us and we will sacrifice the family life with them if it is the best for them.

PS We've had a couple of family meetings with both parents in attendance and in my opinion my daughter-in-law is not open to suggestions and I feel she thinks my husband and I are to blame.

Sincerely,
A Loving Grandma

Dear loving grandma,

As well as being a grandmother, you are also a wife and mother, but I wish you could look at your life today as a person in her own right. You don't have to be president of the local book club, or even a member of your neighbourhood watch group, but you should be doing something. Perhaps you are artistic, or have a hobby or enjoy some craft or do something musical.

Whatever it is, I hope it will give a depth to your life and provide you with the feeling of worth that you deserve.

Making life wonderful for your husband at this stage of his life is often enough of a challenge, and whatever you do in this direction can also be rewarding. People highly respect women who have happy husbands.

As for your children, it is sometimes difficult to recognize that they have new families of their own and also that they are free to make their own choices about their life styles. If they happen to spend more time doing something other than you would have chosen for them, that's their decision. Don't interfere. Live your own life and respect their need to live theirs.

Probably the choices they make today are right for them at this moment. You raised your son to be a fine person and chances are he is doing the best by the standards you have taught him. You must also trust that the woman he has chosen is doing her best, for him and their child. Another time they may make other choices. Perhaps some day their lives will bring them closer to you more often, physically, but in the meantime don't alienate them by expressing your jealousy of their other relatives.

Be there for them when they will need you and right now be busy with your own affairs. Don't love them or your grandchild any less because you see them less. Family is family, and we all know how important it is to love them all, unconditionally, without making any demands on them.

Truly yours,
GG

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Siblings

Dear Great Granny.

My sister recently graduated from college and is taking a year off before going to law school. My parents have supported her and provided monthly expenses exceeding what is needed for basic living. She is going on a different trip every other weekend and sometimes more and shops constantly. She has never had a job.

I am married and work for my parents and my husband is a good provider. We are trying to save enough money to buy a home and business.

My parents are in the process of selling their business and semi-retiring. They will be able to live comfortably on the interest on the money they will receive from the sale. That is, if they just provide tuition and rent for my sister and not the extra $700 or so she goes through each month. My problem is this, I want to bring up the subject of limiting her monthly allowance to a more conservative amount. My mom talks about jealousy and I just don't think that's my problem. I just think there is no reason for a 22 year old to blow that kind of money at the expense of my parents long-term financial situation.

What should I do?

Dear "sister",

Concentrate on your own affairs and leave your sister's alone.

If you are afraid she is squandering what could eventually be your inheritance, forget it. You have stated that your husband provides for you, and apparently you also have a job. As for your parents, they are adults and have earned their own money and can do with it as they please. It's not your responsibility to tell them what to do. If they sell the business perhaps you'll need to change your job, but that isn't an issue here.

Your main problem seems to be that your sister is able to travel around and buy things that probably you couldn't afford when you were her age.

There may be other differences between you two sisters as well, but it is futile to expect things to be the same for two different people, even sisters.

No two people are equal. Changing times change the ways we manage our affairs and if your parents now wish to indulge your sister it is their prerogative and has absolutely nothing to do with you.

You will find times in your life when you would not trade places with your sister for anything, no matter what she spends on things you can't afford. She has had her problems and there will be many more. There will be times when she envies you, though she may never mention it. If it bothers you to see her spend money given to her by your parents, try not to know about it; certainly NEVER discuss it with anyone.

Perhaps you think your parents aren't very bright and are being duped by your sister, but I don't think so. I believe they know exactly what they are doing and have their own reasons. They derive pleasure out of seeing her enjoy what they can give her.

Try to develop a better relationship with your sister. Get back to the happy friendship you had as youngsters. Meet her for lunch. Talk about old times and laugh with her, tell her some of the amusing things in your life, and most of all, ask her about her travels, her friends, her studies and her hopes and fears.

Be a good listener. Be a good sister. Support your parents in whatever they choose to do, and forget about their money.

Truly yours,
GG

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Boy friend

Dear Great Granny.

I'm having a really bad problem, and I don't know what to do.

My boyfriend is extremely jealous because I am on-line talking to people. I don't flirt with them, I just talk to them, and he got mad yesterday, and said I was. He has a best friend that is a girl, and he talks to her all the time. He says that there is a difference.

I have 2 best friends, and one is a guy. But my boyfriend hates him, and doesn't like it when I am around him because I dated him. But he dated his best friend for a while too. I don't want him to think all girls are going to cheat on him, but my friend (this girl) says that it usually drives girls to leave a guy when he is so jealous.

I know how it feels to be hurt, and I love him more than anything, and wouldn't want to hurt him for the world, but I'm confused. I need to have guy friends to talk to too. Can't he realize that I'm not going to leave him like they did, and that I went through the same stuff?

What do I do?

Sincerely,
Desperately confused

Dear confused,

Life is full of choices. Probably you should find another boyfriend. You can't expect a lasting relationship to be successful when you and your boyfriend have two such different feelings about "other friends".

If he is jealous now, he will always be jealous. Nothing you can do or say will change that. So - don't try to tie your life to someone with whom you have such huge differences. You've tried to explain how you feel to him and he doesn't want to live that way.

So give it up, or give him up; It's your choice.

Truly yours,
GG

More - Boy friend


Girl friend

Dear Great Granny.

I have been seeing a woman for the past several months. Her marriage was failing when we first met. Her ex had a drug problem and was verbally abusive. There were other things too personal to mention that turn my stomach. I've been divorced for three years.

We talked and became friends. Helping each other with our problems. As time went on we fell in love. She was recently legally seperated. She's told her parents about me.

We decided to spend a weekend away with her three kids. And are soon planning a time when we can all get together with my two kids joining in. But now her parents have stopped talking to her. They say it is too soon for her to be seeing someone after her seperation. Unfortunately for us...they don't know any of the details as to why their daughter left her ex. She kept it hidden out of embarrassment.

So now she is upset that her parents will not talk to her if she continues to see me. I've told her to try to talk to them. She says she can't. We love each other and want to start a new life with our big family.

What should she say to her parents?. We're in our thirties and feel it's time to live our own lives. Any advice would be very helpful. Thanks for your time.

Dear friend

You are adults. Whereas a person's children are always important, there is a time for getting involved and there is a time for standing byand letting things take their course.

If your lady friend could confide in her mother about the real reason she left her husband it might be easier. But even if she knew all the details, your future mother-in-law will harbour a hope that her daughter might get back with the father of her children. There are so many factors in the situation. We always like things to be orderly, and that means fathers and mothers and their children staying together. It's very hard on everyone who loves you when this familiar pattern is messed up.

All the children, yours and hers, and any new ones you might have together, will be affected by the new arrangement and the parents of the lady you intend to live with know this. They can foresee all sorts of complications and are just wishing the risks could be avoided.

Nevertheless, you can't put your life on hold waiting for them to get used to reality. If it troubles you and your friend that she can't talk with her parents, that's just going to be a part of the new arrangement. You have to make choices. If paramount in your lives is the privilege of talking with her parents, then stay apart. If you can live with the notion that for a while at least you'll have to forego that pleasure, then go ahead and set up your new household, with marriage as the end in view.

I guess you can't have eachother AND her parents. So choose. If you are able to put together a good family life for the children, and demonstrate your love for eachother in such a way that your new family is happy, healthy, and non-confrontational, I expect her parents will eventually see that it's best for her and will accept you and the whole idea.

If, on the other hand, your new arrangement turns out to be a sad affair with bickering parents, complaining kids and everyone feeling guilty because her parents won't speak to them any more, then it isn't worth even trying.

You'll have to make up to her for the lack of her parents' attention. Accustomed to having her mother to talk things over with, now she will depend entirely on you. That's a difficult role for you to play, but it will now be yours.

She wants to talk with her mother but she has not told her mother the details of her previous marriage, so if she starts now it will seem like just an excuse to move in with you. I don't blame her for not having told her mother all about the bad stuff she had to put up with, and in fact I think she should just leave things as they are. That's all private and best left unspoken.

The silent treatment from her mother might just be a last ditch effort to make her hang in there in hopes of getting her old marriage back. Don't blame the mother. That's just the way mothers are. But also, don't let that delay your own need to get things going on an even keel.

When it's all over, everyone will be better off. If her mother is really sick about the whole thing, you could have a private talk with her father and ask him if he could possibly provide something interesting for his wife to do while she feels estranged from the daughter. Old folks need to have a life of their own. It is not healthy for them to be living the lives of their children.

I guess what I'm saying here is for you two to go on and do your thing, live your lives, and aside from being courteous and loving towards her parents, don't let them rain on your parade.

Truly yours,
GG

More - Girl friend


Husband

Dear Great Granny.

I am at my wit's end with my sister-in-law. I had just got married over 2 months ago. My husband lived at home until we decided to move out together and get married.

The problem? She expected my husband to become a father to her 3 yr old son because she is on the out's with the child's father. She constantly make comments and remarks about how my husband has to step up to the plate and be a "dad"

When we just got home from our honeymoon, she told me that her son did not want us to get married and he doesn't know who I am. She only includes my husband in his life and leaves me out. This child does not want anything to do with me. All of this makes me uncomfortable.

I talk to my husband about this and he tells me that if it doesn't bother him, then why should it bother me? It is just words. Then he told me to say something if it bothers me so much. I told him he should be the one saying it to her.

When I invited my mother-in-law over she threw a fit because she wasn't asked. So she told her son to go and cry to my husband and then they all won't go out. She then remarked on how much he was crying for his uncle. She loved that.

I have a problem with that. I need some advice because I don't want to be around her to often anymore.

Dear wit's end,

Ask your husband to decide which family is most important to him. If he chooses to make being "father" to his nephew his major role, then you should find other people to be "family" with. If he decides that being a husband to you is most important, then his sister will have to find another father figure for her son.

Not an easy choice, but obviously he can't have both because if he chooses the child over you, he also has chosen his sister and all her infantile ways of gaining his attention.

His sister needs counselling. If you can somehow survive until she gets her head straightened out, you might rescue your marriage. Otherwise I can't see anything but grief ahead.

While you're waiting for that lady to put her ducks in a row you might consider occupying yourself with interests totally away from the family. Without actually walking out on your poor beleaguered husband you could just get busy with things that don't include any of them. Eventually, the horror scene you are now enduring might pass and things could get back to normal.

One other choice you have is to just put up with things the way they are. Not easy, but then who ever promised "easy"?

Good luck.
GG

More - Husband


Wife

Dear Great Granny.

I recently got married and have watched the relationship between my mother and my wife disintegrate before my eyes. My relationship with my mother over the last few years has been strained at best but we have always managed to put our differences behind us and remain civil towards each other. We have gone through periods where my mother doesn't speak to me for weeks, and in the past I have often called her to initiate a reconciliation. I know that she is not perfect, is set in her ways, and can be difficult to deal with. That said, she is still my mother and I love her.

My wife on the other hand, has never had a good relationship with my mother. When we got engaged she was happy for us but soon became upset when she didn't agree with the date we had chosen to get married on. Therefore, she did not speak to either of us for two months. We managed to patch things up before my wife's bridal shower and our wedding, but the situation was very tense.

About a month before our wedding, my fiancée and I were at my parents looking through a photo album. My mother takes a ton of pictures and has them in albums which are labelled and placed in chronological order. While looking through the album we came upon pictures of me with other girls I had dated. This upset my wife since she and her family view this type of thing as disrespectful. My wife told me how uncomfortable this makes her and added that she did not want to go to my parents house as long as those pictures were out for others to see.

I called my mother and asked her if she would "edit" her pictures to remove any of me with another girl. She doesn't think she should have to do this and explains that they are only pictures and they belong to her.

Needless to say, my wife and I haven't been to my parents in almost two months. The last time she invited us, my wife wound up speaking to her about this issue and things were not left on a good note.

I feel caught in the middle and think the two of them are being petty and have turned this into a contest to see who can exert the most influence over me.

What can I do or say to have this problem come to a peaceful resolution? Is my wife making too much out of this picture issue? Is my mother being completely unreasonable and mean to my wife?
HELP!!

Dear HELPless,

Your wife is making a total fool of herself and if she can't grow up you should just stop trying to tame her.

Keep her away from your mother. They argued about such silly things as the planning of your wedding and that should have been a warning. They probably will never become friends.

Some women feel that it is essential for them to carry on a perpetual war with their mother in law and work at it until they have driven their husbands to distraction. I'm afraid your wife is in this category. She is jealous of your mother because you love her and your wife apparently thinks that every ounce of your attention should be directed at herself.

I don't think anything you can do or say will change her. You just have to hope that one of these days she will grow up.

I'm sorry I can't help you with the problem except to assure you that it won't go away.

As for the pictures of your younger years with other friends, I suppose your wife would like to pretend that she is the only woman you ever knew. Since those pictures threaten her I don't know why she would bother looking at them, but it is stupid of her to expect your mother to remove them from her albums.

You will always love your mother, of course, but you will have to visit her alone. Don't impose your wife on her because I'm sure she will never even try to get along with your mother.

Life could be so simple if all grown people would act like grownups. No matter what a wonderful person you have married, it seems she has one serious flaw and you either have to accommodate her by keeping her away from your mother, or else you could tell her to shape up or ship out!

I don't think you want to take such a drastic action, so just keep them apart and hope your wife will eventually see the light.

Truly yours,
GG

More - Wife


Lovelorn

Dear Great Granny.

I am 20 years old. I have always considered myself to be a pretty independent person. My mother has always taught me to learn to take care of myself and not to depend on a man. My parents have been happily married for 23 years, so its not like she is a man hater or anything like that, she just wants me to know that I can be perfectly fine in life without a man. I am still young, so I am not looking to settle down, but it would be nice to have someone around sometimes.

All of my girl-friends are very different from me, they all NEED boyfriends. They cant go a week without. It's like they take the first guy that comes along, and then they spend all there time with them and I am always left out, or I am the third wheel. I haven't had a boyfriend in over a year, due to a broken heart. I don't trust guys anymore. My whole "dating life" I have always been the one to break up with them, and I never got attached or found anyone that I wanted to devote all my time to. But a year ago, I met my first love.

Granny, I loved him more than anything, it was like fate how we met. I got lost and he gave me directions, and I gave him my phone number, which is another thing that I usually don't do, and he called me that same night.The first time I saw him, I knew that he was different. I am a firm believer in love at first sight because it happened to me.. I just think, what if I wouldn't have gotten lost or he wouldn't have been putting gas in his car, we never would have met.

But anyways, we only dated for about 9 months, which for me is a long term relationship, and one day out of the blue, he broke up with me. I was devastated, I cried myself to sleep every night, and I DON'T cry over guys...its not me... So, its been a year since he broke up with me, but about every 2 or 3 months, he shows up, or calls or writes to me.

I don't understand, he broke up with me, so why is he still around? Every time he calls, and asks me out, he usually always stands me up or stops calling for the next month or so. My only problem is, #1, he never gives me a chance to get over him, every time I meet someone new or start to forget about him, there he is... then I get all attached again and bam, the next day he's gone again. I compare everyone to him, I still think about him everyday, and I have it set in my mind that one day he's going to want me back and he will want to spend the rest of his life with me.

But, sadly, I know in the back of my mind that he is never going to change, and no matter how much I love him, he won't ever love me. So, my question to you is, how can I move on? I can't ignore him when he calls. He always apologizes for what he did to me in the past. I can't be mean to him. But, I haven't found anyone in over a year, Im not interested in anyone else, but I am looking for this "perfect man" when I know I am never going to find him. How can I set my standards lower and quit being so picky and allow myself to forget about the past?

I'm tired of feeling sorry for myself, and for crying over him all the time. I just wish he could see or feel even an ounce of the sadness that he has caused me...What am I going to do? I hate it that he has this kind of power over me, like he knows that I will be there for him at the drop of a hat, and he knows that no matter what I will always be here. I don't date because I am afraid that I will miss another chance with him. I am tired of waiting.

Please give me some advice.

Dear friend

This guy is a power freak. He is NOT the perfect man. He is an example of the worst kind of man. Next time he phones tell him you are busy and hang up immediately. Don't give him the opportunity to destroy your life.

Meanwhile, befriend someone else and stay with your pals so you'll have a chance to meet other people. Make impromptu arrangements with casual friends - not serious dates but group outings. In other words, get back into the swing of things and stop comparing people with that one man who has caused you so much grief.

Pretending that he is something special is a big mistake. He is probably married; had you thought of that? Or maybe he's juggling several "girlfriends"" and you're a number on his list. Whatever he's doing it is certainly not in your best interest to play his game.

Clear him out of your mind and make room for the next great guy who comes along. You never know when it will really be your Mr. Right - but for sure this current trouble maker is NOT. There are lots of men like him breaking young girls' hearts and they love the power it gives them Drop him.

Truly yours,
GG

More - Lovelorn


Internet Partners

Dear Great Granny.

I am so heart broken, my husband of 19 years left me in July, he was having an on line affair with a younger woman in new jersey and that is his home state, where he grew up, he is now living with his sister there, twice he said he was coming home but did not, his sister will not let me or our daughter speak to him, we are heart broken!!

I have filed for a divorce that I don't want but it appears that he is never coming back so I have no choice... How can I survive this?? I am so depressed and feel like life is not worth living any longer ... what can I do?

Dear Heartbroken,

Hearts break and then they repair themselves. Never say "never" but don't count on your husband coming to his senses. If he really wants to stay with his new found lady-friend, no amount of pleading will change that. Let him go join in with the Swingers.

Move along with your life. Cultivate your friends and make the most of your talents and interests. Don't be dull. If your husband tires of his new lady and wants to come back to the comfort and family ties he used to enjoy with you, it will be up to him to make the first move. Then, when the ball is in your court, you can decide whether you will trust him to hang around longer next time, or not.

Meanwhile, take into account the possibility that he may never want to return, so find yourself new friends and wonderful adventures that don't include him.

In the olden days when people used to stay married for life (or so the myth goes) men and women would put up with each other even if they didn't like each other very much, just because it was expected of them - or often as not "for the sake of the children." But that doesn't mean that the world was full of happy marriages. Now, into your life, a situation has come along where your husband really doesn't want to be with you any more and thinks he has found a more pleasing mate in New Jersey. So what? So let it be.

You are not an appendage of your husband. Go ahead with the divorce if you think that's necessary for some financial reason, but don't let all that nonsense dominate your life.

Be yourself, older, wiser and more wonderful than you were 20 years ago before you even knew him. As for your daughter, set her an example of how a woman can be herself and doesn't have to have her life made or ruined by any man.

You're not the only woman in the world whose husband has walked out on her; look around next time you're in a crowded room, bus, subway or sidewalk. Just about one of every three women you see are in your shoes.

They say misery loves company, but that's not true. Misery doesn't love anything, so stop being miserable and take the reins in your own hands.

Good luck,
GG

More - Internet Partners


Sexual orientation

Dear Great Granny.

I am at my wit's end, I met 2 lesbians 6 months ago from a Swingers Advert & have become friends with them, (I have an Uncle & Nephew who are gay & also other friends that are gay) They told me how they were looking for the right male to donate sperm so they could have a baby.

I have a daughter to my first marriage & following that had 2 ectopic pregnancies which lead to me not being able to conceive naturally. When I married my present husband who is 8 years younger than me, (he has no children) we went through IVF for 3 horrible years, unsuccessful we gave up & he said that it was not a problem. I also realise that if he left me it would be because he didn't love me anymore not because I could not give him a child. We are still going strong 11 years down the track. My daughter has since had 3 beautiful children which we both love dearly.

So I thought I would suggest it to my husband to donate his sperm, he declined at first & then as he got to know them & probably with me still suggesting it occasionally agreed to do it. We had no result the first month but this month a positive result.

My thought at first was to tell no one, then I thought seeing how my Mother & Daughter are both open minded & my Mother has a brother & nephew that are gay & she also knows the 2 lesbians (I actually met them through Mum at Bingo) that they deserve to know as they would probably be upset if I kept it from them. But to my dismay I have been verbally abused by my mother & my daughter says she feels threatened by it all, she is insecure due to her biological father coming in & out of her life.

Please, I feel so confused & I feel that I have done the wrong thing by my family, but the right thing by my Husband & friends. I would really like the honest opinion of an outsider.
Regards

Dear Confused,

We live in confusing times, don't we! Nothing is simple any more. Not that it ever was, but I guess our capacity to do things now that were never thought of before, makes people's behaviour just that more difficult to deal with..

Some people are so shocked by the possibilities that they react in ways they wouldn't, if they fully understood. Your mother and daughter have been so surprised by the possibility that your present husband's sperm might generate a child in another woman, that they don't really know how to react. I think they are in a bit of a panic wondering how they will relate to the child that is being pruduced. Actually, they will be in no way related, but they are both the types of people who can't just accept things without feeling they also must make a judgment.

As I see it, the matter is between your husband and your friends who might now be able to have a baby of their own without needing to be married to a man, which for them would be an unnatural state. While once upon a time this might have been looked upon as some sort of sin, it is not against the law today. I'm sure there are some religions which would frown on this procedure but obviously you and your husband and your friends aren't involved in those beliefs.

When the novelty wears off your mother and your daughter will find something else to get excited about. Meanwhile I guess you just have to roll with the punches, so to speak. Change the subject next time they bring it up. Don't even mention it around them. In fact, the less you talk about it anywhere, the better. If your husband were donating blood to a friend, nobody's eyebrows would be raised.

Your lesbian friends don't need to advertise the source of their sperm and surely your husband isn't going to turn the episode into locker room talk at the golf club.

When the baby is born you will of course be interested in seeing it and probably enjoy watching him or her grow up, as you would the children of any other friend.

I think your best course is to let the gossip flow around you until it dissipates, but not to take part. You don't have to justify what your husband has done. You don't even have to express an opinion. If friends or relatives try to force you to say it was wrong, just don't satisfy them with an answer. Whatever you say to support what he has done will only be used as arguments against you later, so say nothing.

There's always a time to say, "This is a subject I don't wish to discuss." Having said that, you should either leave the room, or far better, ask them what they thought of Al Gore's nomination acceptance speech, or of the tragedy of the Russian sailors in that sunken submarine. There are far more interesting things to talk about than personal biases about personal matters.

When your mother and daughter finally realize that you and your husband still and always have a great marriage which has no bearing on what he is doing with his sperm, they will find something else to worry about.

Anyone's opinion about what your lesbian friends are doing and your husband's part in it, is of no matter here at all. The important problem for you to solve is how you are going to deal with it, when confronted by detractors. My advice is to refuse to discuss it anymore with anyone - except your husband.

Even among usually broad-minded, good friends, you will discover that one of them is likely to quote you and misquote you far and wide. So just be happy, enjoy your life, and say nothing.

Truly yours,
GG

More - Sexual orientation


Special topics

Dear Great Granny.

My husband and I have four adult children, three of which are married. I have two son-in-laws and one daughter-in-law. I get along very well with one of the son-in-laws and have an extremely close relationship with my daughter-in-law. She is just like my very only daughter.

My problem is with one of my other son-in-laws. I will be honest with you. He married my youngest daughter while she was in college and that was difficult for me to accept. My daughter and their little baby seem happy; she is a stay at home Mom now and that's great. My son-in-law seems like a good man on the surface. He provides fairly well for the family, loves the baby and my daughter and is also VERY good to them.

The problem then? I don't trust him! He's an undercover and vice cop and has the opportunity to cheat on my daughter anytime he wants. I KNOW he has lied to her and me in the past but I can't proof it. He had a reputation before they married as a ladies man and also was sleeping with another woman while they were dating but before they became serious. He's several years older than my daughter and much more experienced. We have had several talks about this situation and he has assured me that this marriage and their baby is the most important thing to him. He said nothing would ever jeopardize this marriage.

Working as an undercover cop means he's out all night sometimes working the bar scene. He also works with hookers sometimes. Until he changes jobs, I will never trust or believe anything he saids. He statement is always "she knew I was a cop when she married me."

Question--How will I ever be able to accept him and trust him as my son-in-law? I want to like him but whenever I am around him, I just become so very angry. I try not to show my feelings but I'm not fooling anyone. HELP!

Dear HELPless,

You will never trust him. Even if he did change his job he would still be the same man who is loved by your daughter and who makes her happy and is good to her and her baby. But no matter what he ever says or does, you will not like him. So, stop trying.

You have a lot of other children and in-laws to love and enjoy, so just count this one out and carry on with the others.

It would be good if you could keep your animosity towards him to yourself because it won't do your daughter any good to be forever reminded that you don't like her husband. So don't even talk about it to anyone.

If one of these days that man makes life miserable for your daughter I hope you won't be standing there saying "I told you so". That would accomplish nothing but estrangement between you and her.

Since you've asked me what you can do about the situation, my advice is just nothing. You might be wrong. Maybe he isn't sleeping around with all those hookers he sees at the bars. The job he has isn't the only one that provides opportunity to meet other women, or even hookers. If he is being promiscuous I don't think it's his job that has made him follow that habit.

Probably he's just a fine, faithful, husband and probably your doubts are illfounded. Talking to him about it hasn't helped because you believe he is lying to you, so don't bother discussing such things with him again.

Find interesting things to do with your own husband and friends and don't dwell on your daughter's marriage, since it displeases you to think about it. Try being friendly with your daughter's husband and enjoy his company whenever you are with them. He must be a fine young man because the daughter you raised has chosen him as a lifelong companion.

Look for the best in him. If it turns out some day that your daughter wants to leave him, well, that's their business. Meanwhile, he is family so my best advice to you is to treat him as family. Nobody is perfect but you can find some good in anybody. Do it for him - and for your daughter.

Yours sincerely,
GG

More - Special topics


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