Thursday, April 15, 2010

In-laws Make Themselves at Home

Stuck in the Southwest writes: My in-laws (whom I love dearly) moved to another state after retirement, and when they come to visit they always stay with us. They own a house next door that is occupied by their daughter, and they also have another child living nearby.
How can I politely suggest that they stay in their own house with their daughter or with the other child? Both have the space to accommodate them. I work very early morning hours and don't want to disturb them, but they pretty much take over our house when they are here. I don't know if the other children offer them a place to stay or not, but I'm tired of having them here every time they visit. -- STUCK IN THE SOUTHWEST

Dear Stuck,

What does your spouse say about it? I would think this is something your spouse should discuss with your in-laws rather than you doing so. Given that the sister of your spouse lives right next door I imagine you both have frequent contact with her. Why not ask her to host this next time and ask the other sibling to do it the time after. It seems fair that taking turns hosting is the way to approach these visits. Once the decision is made to take turns, this can be expressed to your in-laws in a way that everyone wants their equal share of having them stay with them. Doing it this way will make sure your in-laws don't feel they are unwanted by you.
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Friday, April 9, 2010

Concerned for the Children

Deeply Concerned in Pennsylvania writes: My sister "Carole's" husband died a year ago, and her oldest daughter passed away four months later. Carole now has her daughter's two oldest children, ages 10 and 14.
Carole has been going out with men she meets on the Internet, drinking and partying on weekends and neglecting the kids. The 10-year-old had been receiving psychological help since before her mom died and was on medication, but Carole has dropped all of this help for the child. The girl had been molested by a relative years ago, and now with her mother gone, she's not moving forward in school or in life.
Some of us are willing to take the children from her. She seems not to care what happens to them. She devotes all her attention to the next guy she can be with. She has left the kids alone all night when she was spending the night with men. I'm not supposed to know this, but my adult niece found out from the kids. What can our family do to bring Carole back to earth and help these kids? -- DEEPLY CONCERNED IN PENNSYLVANIA

Dear Deeply Concerned (and you have every right to be),
It sounds like Carole has been through a lot in the past year. She lost her partner and she endured the greatest tragedy for any parent, the death of a child. I am a huge advocate of counseling and it sounds like Carole, along with the children, would benefit from this. However, this is something someone has to choose to do and since she dropped counseling for the 10-year old, she probably isn't ready to seek that kind of help for herself, but there's no harm in asking. Have you tried talking to Carole? I think the best thing you could possibly do is to be a support for Carole and for the kids. If you could be Carole's friend and sister then you could non-invasively suggest to take the kids on nights that Carole has dates or for a more extended period and Carole will not be threatened by your interception. Worse case scenario would be to get CPS involved. You know more than I do but my instincts are telling me that Carole is hurt and doesn't know how to deal with it. Being a friend and a support could allow for her to open up to you which could make a world of difference for all involved. But in the end, the children are the most important concern here and deserve to be in a safe and comforting environment.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Uncomfortable Nudity

Older Sister in McAllen, Texas writes: My brother is 9 and still walks around naked. I have asked "Josh" repeatedly to put on some clothes, but he blows me off and flaunts himself around the house.
My mother is no help. When I ask her to talk to him, she laughs and says, "Boys will be boys." I'm 13 and it is starting to freak me out. Am I being paranoid, or am I right to want him to put on a pair of boxers or something? -- OLDER SISTER IN MCALLEN, TEXAS

Dear Older Sister,

I think your social cues are right on. Is your brother the "baby" of the family? As a studying psychologist I find that birth order plays a huge role into the roles members of a family play. Your brother may be doing this act as a way to hold on to his youth and dismiss "growing up" or he may simply be doing it because he knows it bugs you (you know how younger siblings can be). Of course, your mother is playing a large part in your brothers actions currently. Children learn about social norms primarily from their parents. Because your mother condones his actions, there are no consequences. There is also a cultural aspect to this topic. In some cultures nudity is completely accepted and thought nothing of, all the way through adulthood. Given that you live in Texas, America, your instincts are compliant with your culture's acceptable norms. Here comes the advice for you. As difficult as it is, stop making a big deal out of it. When children learn they can acquire a given reaction which they find pleasurable, they will continue to do it. Your brother gets a kick out of driving you crazy. Go about life as usual without accommodating for your brother's actions. If he doesn't put a stop to his behavior on his own, your mother eventually will. All it will take is one embarrassing moment for him or for her and the problem will be addressed.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cutting Ties

Sad in Ohio writes: I'm a 58-year-old woman who has been married 40 years. I married at 18, put my husband through school and raised three children.
We have now been separated five years, after I found out that my husband had had numerous affairs. The last one lasted three years and I had no idea. During his last affair, he had the woman in our home and told her personal things about me. He lied and told her we were getting a divorce.
We have not divorced. Financially it would be hard. I can't seem to get over the pain and hurt. He still calls to see if I am OK. I continually visualize him with the other women. Thirty-five years is a long time, and he's the only man I have ever known.
I want to get over him, but it's hard. I now work full-time. My husband constantly sought women who admired his power and status in the community. I don't think I can ever get over his hurting me so. I tried counseling. It didn't work. He continues to call, which keeps me hanging. Should I break all ties? Is that what's holding me back? -- SAD IN OHIO

Dear Sad,
I find that many times with situations like this the person knows deep down what they need to do, they just need a little reassurance. You have told me that his calls "keep you hanging" and then asked if you should break all ties? The answer is, yes. But, you already knew that. I think you are completely correct about your husband keeping you close by continuing contact. The only way you will be free mentally, physically, and spiritually is to release yourself and be free from his influence. If you can find it in yourself to make this change I think you will start to see some healthy and positive differences in your life begin to occur.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Stuck in a Rut

Troubled in Virgina writes: I am at my wits' end and feel my life is over. I just want to get my life back the way it was 10 years ago. In the past eight years I have lost two jobs. I am currently unemployed and in financial ruin. I see no way out. Every job I apply for wants to do a credit check, so there goes any good job I might have. I have no resources for a counselor since I have no health insurance and nobody for a sounding board. Please help me see the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel virtually alone. -- TROUBLED IN VIRGINIA

Dear Troubled,

You're not alone! So many people are experiencing similar hopelessness as you in this harsh economic time. I truly believe that the key to getting through any difficult time or situation is to do the one thing you have complete power over at all times...think positively! That may seem like useless advice to you right now especially in your troubled state but if you can find the faith and effort to devote yourself to a life of positive thinking, you can have your life exactly how you want it. The laws of attraction are very simple. The "universe", "God", some "Higher Power", whatever you choose to call it, listens to the vibrations and thoughts you create and then graciously delivers exactly what you have presented. Basically, you get back that which you put out. Is it safe to assume that in your situation you spend a great deal of time worrying and focusing on the negative aspects of your life? Doing so only makes matters worse. If you can consciously choose to change this lifestyle, you will see positive changes begin to occur in your life. Here are a few specific things I think might help you. Watch the movie "The Secret", there is a book also if you would prefer this route. Create a "Vision Board"; get a bulletin board and cover it with pictures, words, statements, etc. of your aspirations by clipping them out of magazines, drawing them or writing them yourself. Put the board on a wall where you will see it everyday to remind yourself of the direction you are choosing for your life. You must continue to be proactive. Manifesting a postive life can only be occurred by an active role by you. Lastly, stick with it! Don't ever give up!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Proper Tipping Behavior

Properly Served In New Hampshire writes: My wife and I were out to dinner with two other couples who are also good friends. We all enjoyed a couple of bottles of wine during our meal.
When the check came, we split it three ways. However, one of the other couples insisted that we should tip only on the food portion of the bill. I said we should tip on the entire bill, including the cost of the wine. Who was correct? -- PROPERLY SERVED IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

Dear Properly Served,
I'm a bit confused. Was the check split three ways with the bottle of wine being split evenly between the three bills? Tip should definitely be warranted on the total amount of the bill. Alcohol makes the most money for those in the serving industry because it is so pricey. Subtracting this from the bill before adding a tip, would in a word, be a "gyp" (please excuse the rhyme; I couldn't resist).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Old Man Flirts With Young Woman in Front of Wife

Old Fool's Wife in Alabama writes: My husband, "Roger" -- 64 and retired -- has a crush on a 25-year-old woman who lives in our small community and who runs a dress shop I frequent. Roger is usually quiet and reserved, but when he sees "Patti," he utters loud cries and runs to her side. He examines every detail of her clothing, makeup, etc., and takes her hand and compliments her on her soft skin, her ring or the color of her nail polish.
From the expression on her face and the looks she exchanges with the other women in the shop, it's clear she considers him a pest.
I have spoken up and said, "Patti must have a grandfather your age," or, "There's no fool like an old fool," but Roger ignores it. My concern is that he's making a fool of himself in public and, by extension, me. I'm so embarrassed, I can no longer walk into my favorite dress shop. Patti is popular. She has many dates and is not interested in Roger. I hate to be pitied by others. What can I do to stop this? -- OLD FOOL'S WIFE IN ALABAMA

Dear Old Fool's Wife,

Not only are your husband's actions inappropriate, they're disrespectful to you and Patti. It appears to me that Roger is feeling his age and attempting to boost his ego by gaining the attention of an attractive, much younger woman. Though this is common, I'm sure you've heard of "dirty old men", it most certainly can be a problem. If talking to Roger will do no good, avoid telling him when you plan to go to the dress shop so that he has no excuse to tag along. If Roger is going to the shop without you, it is up to Patti to say something to him. You could always talk to her about it so that she knows you support her in telling Roger that his actions are inappropriate and embarrassing. Good luck!