Dear Annie: I am a single mother in my mid-30s and recently graduated from college. Because of the current job market, I am having difficulty finding a permanent full-time position in my field. I will most likely need to relocate to another state.
The problem is my great aunt. She is a nosy gossip and occasionally puts me on the spot, asking me all kinds of questions. I am not, nor have I ever been, close to this woman. I usually see her only in church, so this is where these grillings take place. I find it highly inappropriate, but she backs me into a corner, and I end up answering her. She had the nerve to ask whether I will be “allowed” to move to another state. When I asked her what she meant, she alluded to the fact that my ex-husband may not want me to take my son elsewhere.
Annie, this woman knows perfectly well that my ex wants nothing to do with our son, and it is extremely hurtful when people bring up the subject. This man has chosen to remove himself from our son’s life for the past two years. Why would she insinuate that he’d block me from moving?
I do not care to air my personal business to my drama queen of an aunt so she can have fodder for her gossipy life. But she is also family, and I do not want to cause controversy by telling her to mind her own business. How can I get her to stop her inquisitions in a tactful way? – Niece in the Hot Seat
Dear Niece: There are ways to avoid answering nunofyerbizness-type questions by obfuscation and changing the subject while remaining sweet and pleasant. But it sounds like you need to practice in front of a mirror because you get too flustered when cornered. Smile and say sweetly, “Why, Aunt Bee, when I have news to share, I’ll be delighted to tell you. Where did you get that lovely dress? You look 10 years younger.” Then give her a big kiss on the cheek and walk away before she recovers. Repeat as needed.