Dear Annie: I’m a 66-year-old mother of two, grandmother of four. I have been verbally abused my entire life — first by my father and now by my daughter.
I love my daughter, but I’m ready to dismiss her from my life in order to preserve what sanity I have left. I am afraid to be in the same room with her because I never know what will set her off. The problem, of course, is her children. I have a wonderful relationship with both of my grandchildren and want it to continue.
I am seeing a therapist who is helpful, but 45 minutes a week is not enough. My husband is supportive, but refuses to stand up to our daughter on my behalf. Naturally, she has never said an unkind word to him.
I am extremely depressed and at my wits’ end. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. — Texas Mother
Dear Texas: Since you want to maintain a relationship with the grandchildren, please talk to your therapist about working on your response to your daughter’s verbal attacks. If you can learn to distance yourself emotionally (and physically) from what comes out of her mouth, it will hurt less and you won’t be as agitated. Her abuse is not your fault. Standing up for yourself doesn’t have to mean getting into an argument. It sometimes means removing yourself from the drama so you can no longer be a target. Practice saying, calmly, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” or “I’ll come back when you’re better.” If she rants in frustration, so be it.
Dear Annie: My 18-year-old son, “Jack,” refuses to brush his teeth. My husband and I taught our children the value of good dental hygiene, but Jack says it’s a waste of time. Each year, he brushed less and less until he simply stopped. And forget about flossing. Jack has regular dental checkups and has had some minor problems, such as gingivitis and cavities, which we have paid to treat. Now he is starting college. The dentist wants to see him every three months in order to keep his teeth clean and his gums healthy, but our insurance won’t pay for that many trips. I’m tired of paying for extra visits and treatments because Jack refuses to do something as simple as brushing. He is obviously old enough to understand the consequences.
Should I stop paying for his dental care? What do you think? — Fed-Up Mom
Dear Mom: As long as Jack remains on your insurance, he is covered for two visits a year. Beyond that, it’s his responsibility. If he refuses to brush and won’t schedule additional cleanings, he will eventually learn the consequences of poor dental hygiene. Let’s hope he becomes interested in someone who refuses to kiss him unless he brushes his teeth. That would take care of it.
Dear Annie: You often suggest to the newly single or widowed that they seek a social or church group in an effort to make friends and meet new people. May I offer an additional suggestion?
Sweet Adelines International is one of the largest singing organizations for women in the world, specifically in the barbershop style. There are choruses all over the U.S. (and the world), and we are always open to new members. You do not need to be a great singer or have a musical background to join.
Aside from the musical education and opportunity to perform, women develop confidence and receive countless social benefits — a built-in bunch of friends of all ages who share their lives and support one another. More information is available at sweetadelineintl.org. (The men’s organization is the Barbershop Harmony Society at barbershop.org.) — Red Rose City Chorus, Lancaster, Pa.
Dear Lancaster: Thanks for a wonderful, fun suggestion.