… has an 18-year-old disabled daughter, “Lauren.” The girl’s mental level is between that of a 2- and 4-year-old. There have been physical confrontations between my new daughter-in-law and her disabled daughter, which are becoming more frequent now that they all live together. Our daughter-in-law refuses to pursue facilities for Lauren, saying she is waiting for her to be transitioned into a group home and feels much guilt in doing so.
Lauren is currently in a day program, which doesn’t seem to be helping her. She has definite behavioral issues and has been put on a higher level of meds that haven’t helped. Psychologists, counselors and school staff are noncommittal about offering any help and haven’t advised on how to address this.
My concern is, my son and his wife now have a 6-month-old son, and I worry about the baby in this home environment. Our son loves his wife and thought he could handle the challenges that come with living with Lauren. He now says he thinks it is best to end the marriage, but he’s uncomfortable about giving an ultimatum to his wife. He has a high-pressure job, and his new home environment is taking a toll on him, physically and mentally. Any advice for him is appreciated.
– Mom On The Sidelines
I appreciate your concern for the well-being of your son, but if you are smart, you will remain supportively on the sidelines and not insert yourself into this sensitive situation. If your son feels so pressured he’s considering ending his marriage, he should be telling his wife about it and not his mother.
I’m a 31-year-old waitress and proud atheist. I’m one of the least judgmental people I know. Who other people love, or how they choose to worship isn’t important to me.
I have a regular customer who comes in to the restaurant about twice a month. He’s a pastor and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. He’ll often bring along people from his congregation and buy them dinner. He counsels new families and tries to teach them the ways of the world. He counsels angry teenagers, and they listen to him. I have tremendous respect for him.
The problem is, every time he comes in, he tries to get me to come to his church. It’s sometimes an hourlong conversation. At first I was polite about it and just said “No, thank you.” Recently it reached the point where I said firmly, “I don’t need your church.” Abby, he still persists! I don’t know what to do anymore. I wouldn’t feel right kicking him out of the restaurant. Is there a middle ground?
– Nonbeliever In Georgia
The pastor may be an evangelical, who feels that it is his duty to “spread the word.” The middle ground, since he seems unable to accept your polite refusals, is to have another waitress serve him instead of you, if that’s possible. If not, ask your manager for guidance.
My father is nearing the end of his life. I’m an only child with no family nearby. When my mother passed away, many people reached out to me, and I know their intent was to comfort me. However, most of the time I ended up comforting them. I would try to escape by saying things like I had a task to take care of, but when people are crying hysterically on the phone or in my kitchen, they don’t seem to hear. How can I politely tell people like this that I’m not their therapist, and they are not comforting me?
– Taking Care Of Dad
DEAR TAKING CARE:
All you need to say is you can’t talk right now, and you will call them back later. Period. Then hang up. If someone is having an emotional meltdown in your kitchen, you have the right to tell the person you can’t deal with it right now, you’ll visit with her — or him — “another time,” and guide them to the door.