Dear Annie: I am an only child who was reared by loving but extremely controlling parents. They tried to dictate my attire, my friends and my opinions. I moved away and married, but things have only gotten worse.
I considered moving home to help them, as they are getting older. My husband was skeptical. He’s seen me cry from the guilt trips my parents have put on me and has heard the bigoted remarks about my mixed-race grandchildren.
I found an online listing for a fixer-upper and asked my folks to see whether it was worthwhile. When we drove to my hometown, I discovered that my father was already working on the yard and dealing with a Realtor. But the place was a wreck, and the backyard pool looked like the Loch Ness monster resided there. Repairs would cost at least $50,000. I knew this wasn’t the house for me. Meanwhile, my father pointed his finger in my face and dared me to back out of the deal he had arranged. And then he said, in front of my husband, that I should buy the house myself and let my husband and kids make their own way in the world.
That evening, my parents railed at me about my daughter’s mixed-race children, saying they would never be allowed to visit. They told me I needed to dump my old friends so they could introduce me to better ones. My mom was busy trying to get me jobs I didn’t want and told me I was unappreciative of their efforts.
I decided that I could not live like this, and we left. My parents were furious and haven’t spoken to me in six months. My cards, gifts and emails go unanswered. I am miserable, and I know this is exactly how they want me to feel. My question is: Do I still try to be the better person and send a Father’s Day gift?
Dear Sad: Your parents sound manipulative and difficult, and we’re impressed that you turned out to be so well-adjusted. You don’t owe your father a gift, but would it make you feel better to send something anyway? We suggest you handle future communications in whatever way gives you peace of mind. You have tried to please your parents and discovered that it is impossible. It’s OK to please yourself.
Dear Annie: I am 31 and a never-married single mother. Along with raising a happy 5-year-old, I have a small business, and I attend school part time.
I’m tired of supposed well-meaning friends implying that I should marry. They ask, “Do you want to die alone?” or “Don’t you want a father for your son?” I answer them with humor, but I don’t appreciate the questions.
Please help your readers understand that it is OK not to be interested in marriage. Not everyone wants to share a bed or a bathroom or a bank account. Many of the married moms I know are unhappy, and quite a few end up raising their husbands, as well as their kids. Being single isn’t a mark of failure and doesn’t require an explanation. I understand the value society places on marriage, but what happened to the value of minding your own business?
Parent in the Northeast
Dear Northeast: Good luck with that. If the same friends keep making the same intrusive remarks, tell them politely, “I cannot imagine why you think this is your business.” It may be less gentle than you’d like, but it should put an end to the questions.
Dear Annie: “Friend of a Young Cancer Victim” said it’s a waste to have flowers at a funeral. Flowers not only provide comfort for the bereaved, but also create jobs from growing the flowers to shipping them, providing containers for the arrangement, filler for the containers, etc. Without these beautiful arrangements, some of us would be unemployed and unable to donate to those charities she champions.
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