Ask Amy: Family must act to protect abused dad
By Amy Dickinson,
DEAR AMY: About 20 years ago, shortly after my mother died, my father became involved with a woman. While I am pleased that he has someone to live with, this woman has become a big problem for my siblings and me.
She has done everything in her power to keep us out of my dad’s life. She has also intimidated him into signing property over to her. But to add to that, he has called us saying she is abusive, and she even left him in the driveway after he fell because she was angry with him.
He will not talk to anyone else about this, but we have tried our best to keep him safe.
My real problem is that our extended family (cousins, aunts, uncles) thinks she is the nicest woman and that we are so lucky to have her in our father’s life. They don’t understand where our animosity toward her comes from. The most common comment we get is, “Because she’s in his life you won’t have to take care of him when he can’t take care of himself.”
What should we say to them? How do we convey how concerned we are? -- Scared for Dad
DEAR SCARED: I hope you don’t really think that your most urgent problem is what other family members think of this woman. That should be immaterial.
Your father is being abused and neglected. You need to advocate for him and act on his behalf — and you must do it now.
Every state has an elder-abuse hot line. You can check the National Center on Elder Abuse to see how to report this abuse at ncea.aoa.gov, or call 800-677-1116.
Abusers come in all forms; they can be family members, trusted friends or professional caregivers. Take action now — and worry about how to explain it later.
DEAR AMY: My 25-year-old son is a sweet, kind guy. His personal habits, though, are hard for me to ignore. One example: He recently showed up to a concert at a nice venue wearing cutoffs, very old, beat-up tennis shoes and a T-shirt. He doesn’t have much money, I realize, but I know he could do better.
I’ve always believed that he would eventually grow out of this phase. He supports himself at a minimum-wage job, doesn’t ask for money from me, and has a nice girlfriend.
I do think he would have a more satisfying job and social life, though, if this one area of his life were different. Is there anything I can say to him that would be helpful?
I believe that “you don’t tell someone something they already know about themselves,” and I don’t want to hurt his feelings. -- Mom in a Muddle
DEAR MOM: You should not tell a 25-year-old man how to dress, even if you did raise him.
If your son ever said to you, “Mom, what do you think I need to do to escape my minimum-wage life?” you could suggest that he should dress more professionally.
Otherwise, appreciate him as he is and don’t try to improve him.
DEAR AMY: I felt compelled to write in after reading the letter from “Going Solo,” the woman who wondered if she would regret never having children. You said that not every parent was blissfully happy with their choice.
Well, I’m a happily married mother of three — their ages are 13, 9 and 7 — and my life is out of control.
My house is a constant mess, and a mountain of laundry is always waiting for me. I’m an unappreciated chauffeur, housekeeper, sports organizer and cook — and my wages are nonexistent! I signed up for this not knowing what it was truly like.
I love my children very much, but being a parent isn’t the ultimate thrill of my life. It isn’t even my greatest passion. I know it sounds selfish, and it is, but I didn’t realize how selfish I was until I had children. -- Overwhelmed Mom
DEAR OVERWHELMED: Thank you for being honest about your experience. Parents feel pressure to only report how awesome parenthood is, giving childless people a very skewed picture.
Write to Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.
2012 by the Chicago Tribune
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