Annie’s Mailbox for Friday, December 31, 2010
Dear Annie: A year ago, I became ill and was in the hospital for a month. I was told that my children were there the entire time. Since then, I have been declared legally disabled. There is some room for improvement in my condition, but it will take a lot of time. I would love to have my old life back, but it isn’t going to happen.
I always thought I was a good mother, but apparently I failed somewhere. Two of my children are still living at home, and all I get is criticism from them that I don’t do enough around the house. It’s nearly impossible for me to cook and clean, and no one else even tries.
We are all adults living here. My daughter constantly complains about all she does for me. She wants to get paid for washing my clothes, doing the dishes and any other chores. Mind you, both children live here rent-free. At present, my son is unemployed, but always has money to buy cigarettes and go out with friends.
My children are constantly belittling me about things I cannot do, and my mother and brother add fuel to the fire by insisting that I am milking the situation. Neither of them lives in this area, and they don’t visit.
I am improving little by little, but progress is slow. How can I make my family see that I am truly disabled?
— Did Something Wrong Raising My Kids
Dear Did Something: Your children may be lazy and ungrateful, but we also believe they are frightened by your disability and their complaints are their way of coping. Ignore them. If they are not paying rent, their minimum contribution should be cooking, cleaning and doing chores — regardless of your physical ability. Tell your mother and brother to visit and assess the situation before judging. And when your daughter complains, reply sympathetically, “Life is tough.” If they refuse to stop complaining and you can afford a caregiver, tell them they are free to move out.
Dear Annie: Over the past few years, we’ve been updating our home and installing hardwood floors.
After a family gathering this summer, our floors developed little round dents in the rooms. We realized that our future daughter-in-law, who always wears stilettos, was the culprit. The last time she was in our home, we could clearly see the dent trail she left.
How do we tactfully ask people to remove their shoes without hurting their feelings?
Dear Dimples: Hardwood floors are not expected to remain pristine, and nicks and dents are the cost of entertaining. However, it is perfectly acceptable to ask guests to remove their shoes at the door, especially if you provide cozy little slippers for them to wear instead. Some will refuse, which is OK, but your son should encourage his future wife to comply.
Dear Annie: You were way off in your response to “Spouse,” whose wife is caring for their daughter’s blind, incontinent dog and said if the dog goes, she goes. The wife is not choosing the dog over her husband of 30 years. She is just continuing with the responsibility and commitment the daughter accepted.
Just because a pet becomes incontinent or blind doesn’t mean it should be abandoned. The wife did the right thing. Now she is seeing her husband’s true colors, and she doesn’t like it. There are all kinds of compromises that could be made to make life easier for all of them — diapers, a crate, doggy daycare, etc. Abandoning the dog should not be one of them.
— Pet Lover in California
Dear Pet Lover: Several readers responded to this letter. Some suggested the dog be euthanized. One recommended a rescue group that will place it in a loving foster home. A few, like you, thought the wife was right to put the dog first and were angry enough with the husband to suggest throwing away the marriage. We do not agree.
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