DEAR ABBY: I am a 91-year-old woman who is four feet tall who still drives a car and goes alone to shop and do business.
My problem is that I am often approached by strangers who want to “help” me. This scares me because I can’t defend myself.
While someone who holds a door open for me is appreciated, I can’t tell who is a wallet thief who intends to take me down.
How can I communicate that I am able to take care of myself without offending the person?
GREAT GRANDMOTHER IN THE MIDWESTDEAR GREAT GRANDMA: You are not the only senior who has expressed these feelings. Look the person in the eye and say firmly, “I know you mean well, and thank you – but no thank you. I prefer to do that myself.”
DEAR ABBY: My stepdaughter, ‘Crystal’, has a toxic relationship with her mother. Both have battled alcoholism. The mother has done extreme damage that has ended the possibility of Crystal regaining custody of her 6-year-old son.
My husband and I hired a lawyer to help her fight for her rights, and we’ve brought her to our house twice. The last time was just out of the hospital after she nearly committed suicide from alcohol poisoning.
Fast-forward: Crystal tries to mend her relationship with her mother, and now we’re second fiddle.
What used to be a daily phone call now only happens when I call. When we try to visit them they make excuses and they have only visited us twice in the last six months. Her latest plan is to spend the night with us and spend the next day with her mother.
We swallow our pride so we can see our 6 month old granddaughter but our feelings are so hurt. Please help me take the main road. Do we talk to her or do we just feel crushed?
WOUNDED IN MICHIGAN
BEST INJURIES: Your troubled stepdaughter tries to mend fences with her mother. Try not to take it personally that she has tunnel vision right now.
I don’t think you should discuss this with her right now. Let more time pass, and if she keeps her distance, talk to her about it.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I live in southern Florida. My problem is our children, grandchildren and their husbands.
When they come to visit, they only eat certain foods and need “healthy this” and “healthy that”. I feel like we are used as hotel and restaurant.
I want to see them, but it’s getting tiring. What should I do?
ROLL BACK THE WELCOME MAT
BEST ROLES: Roll back that welcome mat.
Talk to your children, grandchildren and their spouses. They may not realize the extent to which they have pushed you. Tell them that if they have any special dietary requirements, they should buy their own food and that you will make room in the refrigerator to accommodate them.
If their presence in your home becomes too burdensome, provide a list of affordable hotels or rental properties in the area that they might consider.
Dear Abby was written by Abigail Van Buren, aka Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.