Dear Annie: I am a 47-year-old male, own my own business and work hard. My dad is 77, widowed and semimobile. He recently moved out of the busy city to live near me in the suburbs. I encouraged this so we could keep an eye on him.
The problem is, Dad comes to my house daily and is usually sitting in my driveway when I get home. The two of us didn’t get along very well when I was younger and this has turned into way too much “Dad” time.
I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but I’d like to lead him to other activities. My sister has told him that he is wearing out his welcome, but he says, “They are all I’ve got.” He refuses to get involved in any of our church events and is content to spend all of his time with me. What can I do? – About To Lose My Mind
Dear About To: You are right that Dad needs other activities to occupy his time. He’s been uprooted and has become dependent on you. Look into some programs in your area that he might like. Maybe he’d take an art class at the park district, swim at the YMCA, volunteer at the elementary school or join a seniors group. Perhaps the local community center has a photography club or he could watch a trial at the courthouse. Do a little research and then give Dad a schedule. Someone may need to accompany him the first few times until he feels comfortable, but once he starts making friends, he will get out of your hair. And when your patience gets a little frayed, ask your sister to invite Dad for a visit so you can get a break.
Dear Annie: I’ve been married four years. It’s a second marriage for both of us. Since we’ve been together, I have purchased birthday and Christmas gifts for all members of his family, paid for four wedding showers and spent every Christmas Eve with them.
My son recently got married, and not one of these aunts or uncles sent him so much as a card, much less offered a bridal shower for my daughter-in-law. They have never invited them to any family functions or celebrations. Yet when my husband’s sisters decided to throw an elaborate shower for yet another niece, they make all the plans and then expect me to chip in my share.
My husband says his sisters only want my company when they need something. I am tired of being called an “aunt” when the other aunts ignore my children. What should I do? There is another shower this week. – Handout Aunt
Dear Aunt: These aunts consider you part of their family, but they don’t feel the same about your children. This is not the best attitude, but it is also not unusual in second marriages. It is up to your husband to make it clear to them that you are a package deal. In the meantime, please don’t stoop to their level. Be the aunt you wish they were.