Dear Annie: When my husband died, my daughter, "Emma," insisted that I move in with her to take over the child care, cooking, cleaning, etc. One of my requirements was bringing my dog. Emma knows "Maisie" is a barker, but promised it wouldn't be a problem.
Emma began seeing a fine young man, who moved in with us. But Maisie barked at him. When the boyfriend's car was repossessed, I let him use mine. It was a gas-guzzler, so Emma insisted I sell it, even though I didn't want to. She said I was selfish, so I caved. She used the money to buy another car, but the registration is in her name. She said it was for the entire family, but I think I was taken for $5,000.
Last year, Emma told me to give her the money from my retirement fund to open a new business. My financial adviser agreed that it was a good investment, so I let her have the money, with the understanding that I would continue living with her.
But when Emma married the boyfriend, they moved into a new home, and I was told that Maisie would not be welcome. I was shocked that they expected me to get rid of my beloved companion. When she again said I was selfish, I lost my temper. Emma told me to move in with a friend until I "see the error of my ways."
Emma now won't let me see my grandson and says I'm choosing my dog over her. She says we can't have a relationship unless I apologize. Even if I do, I realize that she will use her son as a weapon any time I do something she doesn't like, and by caving (again), I'd be telling her that it's OK to break her promises. Any thoughts?
- Maisie's Mom, Too
Dear Mom: Emma sounds like a bully and a manipulator. She may be right that you are choosing Maisie over her, but the dog is part of your family, and this was the agreement she made. You have given Emma free child care and a new business, while she has stolen your car and made you homeless. Are you willing to sue her for the money? If not, you'll need to grit your teeth and apologize, but talk to your investment counselor about ways to recoup some of your losses.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Concerned Grandparents," whose daughter's home is a mess. Thank you so much for your supportive response.
I was never taught to clean as a child, because my mother did everything. So did my mother-in-law. While it was wonderful that our mothers allowed us to be little and simply cleaned up after us, my kids don't have that. My husband and I are messy. Our children are, too, and we are working toward change. Just as my sons are getting better at baseball each year, we are becoming better housekeepers.
- Not Quite a Grownup