Dear Annie: My mother-in-law blatantly favours her oldest granddaughter, “Miranda,” to the exclusion of the other four. She says Miranda is the “good granddaughter” and her 17-year-old sister, “Amy,” is the “troublemaker.”
I believe that Amy acts out partly because of the negative label she has been saddled with for years. Meanwhile, Miranda can do no wrong. She recently persuaded her grandmother to let her boyfriend move into the family home while her father was out of town.
My husband and I live out of state. When we visit the relatives, my mother-in-law spends the entire time talking about Miranda’s glowing character and wonderful achievements. Our three kids only see their grandmother twice a year. You’d think she’d make an effort to get to know them a little.
This favouritism does not do anything to promote family relationships. Our kids joke about their pecking order in the family and actually rank all the grandchildren through Grandma’s eyes. They realize that Miranda is No. 1 and Amy is No. 5 and that they fall somewhere in between. How do we approach my mother-in-law about her favouritism, letting her know that it actually makes the other children resent both Miranda and her? — Mom of Nos. 2 Through 4.
Dear Mom: It may not help, but please ask your husband to speak to his mother. He should explain that her favouritism is obvious to everyone and that her strong preference for Miranda severely damages her relationships with the other grandchildren. Fortunately, your children have one another for support. They understand that Grandma is besotted with their cousin and that it is not a reflection on their character. It’s Amy who suffers the most. Please reach out to her.
Dear Annie: I am the youngest of three children, and my parents are in their 80s. They both have myriad medical conditions.
Since moving home, I got a new job and assumed the role of caregiver for my parents. I cook, shop, run errands, do laundry and take them to the doctor. My older sister, who lives out of state, visits often and jumps right in to help. She will even trim the bushes. My brother, however, I have no use for. He’s twice divorced, makes a six-figure income and travels extensively. He could easily do more for our parents, but his visits are infrequent, and he stays less than two hours.
The role of caregiver is one that should be shared equally and enthusiastically between all siblings. It’s one of the most honourable things one can do. My brother understands that. He just doesn’t want to do it. What’s the best way to get him to start pulling his own weight? — Holding It Together in Indiana
Dear Indiana: You and your sister are kind and compassionate. But you cannot force your brother to be the same. Instead, ask him to contribute financially to your parents’ care. Use the money to hire additional help around the house or to have a caregiver come so you can get a break. Hopefully, he’ll be relieved to help in a way that doesn’t require his physical presence, and you will be less resentful.
Dear Annie: This is for “Wondering,” who wanted to know how to ask his parents about his inheritance so he could plan his retirement.
My mom passed away suddenly at the age of 64. Dad was devastated. A few years ago, he married a lovely lady and, at the age of 80, has rediscovered the joy of living. His obligation was to provide for me, teach me right from wrong and allow me the opportunity to acquire the skills to be employable. It is my job to raise my kids with the same love and values and provide for my own retirement. Dad has earned the right to enjoy the fruits of his labours, and I am delighted that he and my new stepmother are spending our inheritance. — Glad To Be Dad’s Daughter
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please 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.