Annie's Mailbox: How does mom deal with insulting daughter?

Dear Annie: My 34-year-old daughter, “Mary,” has two children I love dearly and often take care of. Though she says she loves me, Mary has told me in anger that she doesn’t respect me.

I don’t know where I went wrong or whether it is something in her. We’ve always had a complicated relationship. I’m well aware of my failings as a mother, but I never was deliberately unkind to her.

In fact, my other child views me in the opposite way. To her, I can do no wrong. Mary, however, thinks I can do nothing right.

In order to keep the peace, I sit quietly and take her tongue-lashings even though they embarrass and humiliate me.

Mary also treats her husband without respect, and he has witnessed her being intentionally rude to me. I cannot understand why she says things she knows will hurt me, especially since she didn’t grow up in this type of atmosphere.

Please give me some guidance.

— A Sad Mother in a Southern State

Dear Sad: It’s easier for Mary to blame others than to examine her own behavior. Unfortunately, she is not likely to see it that way. You might, however, mention that she seems unhappy and that, because you love her, you’d like to help.

Maybe she needs a break from the kids. Perhaps she would be amenable to counseling. Simply talking to an uninterested third party about what bothers you can be tremendously helpful.

Cast yourself as her ally instead of her put-upon mother, and it’s possible you could change the way she responds to you.

Dear Annie: Someone in my office keeps stealing lunches, including mine, from the workroom fridge. I don’t want to sink to their level and do something bad to the food. What should I do?

— Hungry in Grand Island

Dear Hungry: We assume your lunches are well marked with your name so co-workers are not under the impression that it is communal food, and that warning signs are posted not to take your things. If you know who the culprits are, politely remind them that the food is someone’s property and ask that they not take what doesn’t belong to them.

You also can report this to a supervisor. If this doesn’t solve the problem, we recommend you buy a reusable insulated bag and ice packs, and keep your lunch near your desk. Or, perhaps the victims of the Food Thief would be interested in contributing to the acquisition of a small refrigerator with a lock.

Dear Annie: I read another response to “Exhausted Wife,” whose husband expects her to pay for her share of their vacations, even though she can’t afford it. Another writer said he struggled to supply 50 percent of the household expenses when his wife had 10 times his income.

Since when did marriage become a “yours and mine” union? I have been married to a terrific guy for 33 years, and we have raised two wonderful boys. We were a two-income family until four years ago, when I left my job.

At no time has our income been anything but “ours,” even now. We have always had joint banking accounts, along with joint bills, which were always paid with “our” money.

The subject of who is responsible for what portion of the bills or who will pay what percentage toward a vacation never entered our minds. I am appalled that someone has so little regard for his marriage that his wife must forgo a vacation because she can’t afford it. Marriage brings a lot of changes, including the joining of income and financial responsibility. It is a selfish spouse who does not realize it should be a 50-50 partnership in all aspects.

— Happily Sharing for 33 Years

Dear Sharing: In some marriages, both husband and wife prefer to have separate income and expenses, but regardless of the arrangements, no spouse should be punished for earning less money than the other.

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