Advice: Expressing concern or just an opinion?
Dear Annie: I have a longtime friend with a history of enabling, starting with her own kids. I tried to discourage her from doing that numerous times without success. History appears to be repeating itself. Her kids are long gone, but now her granddaughter has moved in. This young lady, barely out of high school, is perfectly comfortable hanging around the house playing on her cellphone. Two years have gone by, she has shown no interest in getting a job, nor does she have any discernible goals. She cooks family meals on occasion, but I’m not aware of her contributing much else.
My friend hasn’t put in much effort encouraging job hunting. Nor has she felt it necessary to consider counseling, something I’ve suggested a few times, for one or both. The sad part is my friend knows she’s enabling yet chooses to do nothing to help herself or the child. Grandma’s motivation may be as simple as loving the company. She really isn’t doing the granddaughter any favors. Any idea how I might make that a little clearer to her? — Concerned Friend
Dear Concerned: If it’s concern that you want to express, go ahead. Do so once; then let it go.
If, on the other hand, what you really want to express is an opinion, then save your breath. We’re all entitled to make our own mistakes, for better or worse. Besides, people rarely take advice when they ask for it, let alone when they don’t.
Dear Annie: Thank you for telling “Bewildered” — whose toxic family had contacted her out of the blue, acting as though they’d never done anything wrong — to get therapy.
I would also encourage “Bewildered” to move, as soon as they are able to — even if it is just across town. A new place. A fresh start. A new phone number.
Family is those that are around you and care for you as much as you care for them. You don’t owe blood family a single thing. Abusers will never admit fault. And the children will never see it; they are simply parroting the behavior of their elders.
I was happiest when I was 2,500 miles away from my family. I am back now but see no reason to get close. They haven’t changed; I have. — Know Better Now
Dear Know Better: Wherever you go, there you are — but I can agree that sometimes a change of scenery can be a much-needed refresh. I’m glad you found boundaries that gave you peace, no matter your location.
Dear Annie: “Unappreciated Stepmom” gave her stepson and his fiance money for their wedding about a year ago, and life certainly has been a winding road since then. I agree with “Stepmom” that not being updated over their change of plans is insensitive, more so because she is one of the groom’s parents. My interpretation was that her involvement in the wedding planning simply was the provision of funds for the couple to proceed with their plans as they wish. In my understanding, when you give a gift, it is no longer yours, regardless of what it is. There is some imbalance on both sides of the scale here. — Just the Way I See It
Dear JTWISI: I tend to subscribe to that line of thinking, as well. If it’s got strings attached, then it’s not a gift; it’s a trap. That being said, I could sympathize with “Unappreciated Stepmom’s” hurt feelings in this case, as no one likes feeling left out of the loop. “Imbalance on both sides of the scale,” as you put it, is an eloquent description.
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“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.