Witnessing Disturbing Parenting
Dear Annie: My daughter and her best friend are 30. When her friend was 12, she lost both her parents. She has been like part of our family since then. She came home last year with a beautiful baby. Her husband is stuck in his own country awaiting a visa. My daughter baby-sits daily for her, and they are both here almost daily. She is a wonderful, accomplished young woman, and we adore her toddler. As she is a single mom with no other family support, she relies on us. But she has started yelling at the baby. If he is too noisy or demanding -- just normal behavior -- she loses it. The first time it happened, I was shocked into silence. But it has happened again, and I have to say something. I am afraid to drive her away and make things worse. She has been a truly great mom, and she came back to the U.S. for better opportunity for him. Please help me find the right words. My daughter is also heartbroken by this. I know I shouldn’t need help, but I’ve never had to deal with this situation. -- Heartbroken and Worried Godmother
Dear Heartbroken and Worried Godmother: Please don’t feel that you shouldn’t need help. We all need help sometimes, and asking for it is a sign of strength, not weakness. Your concerns over your goddaughter’s yelling at her child are very valid. She may not even be aware that she is doing it. Yelling probably is the result of anger and stress in her life, and being a new single mom is not an easy transition. I would be completely honest with her and ask her what is going on in her life to cause her to be so impatient. I’d also tell her that repeated yelling at the child is unacceptable. No excuses. You might give her some advice on how to cope with an unruly toddler without resorting to yelling. You have been a loving and supportive person in her life. Sometimes true love involves honesty. My guess is she and her baby will thank you in the long run.
Dear Annie: Your advice to “Wedding Woes,” the woman whose developmentally disabled daughter has been effectively disinvited from her other daughter’s wedding because the disabled daughter’s fiance is not invited, completely missed the point. Modern manners have not changed so much that you can fail to invite perfectly nice family members to your wedding. Despite the fact that the other daughter would have preferred not to have a wedding, she is having one. Etiquette dictates that if you invite immediate family, you invite all the immediate family. The only exception would be family members whose presence would be dangerous, emotionally damaging or abusive. I would think the disinviting sister would be glad to have the fiance help her less able sister travel, navigate hotels and attend the wedding to celebrate her happy day. Otherwise, though I hope the two getting married will be very happy together, I suspect they won’t, given how unkind and ungenerous they are proving to be before the wedding. -- Catherine G.
Dear Catherine G.: True. Unfortunately, the bride-to-be was not the one who wrote me; it was her mother, who does not get to decide the guest list. It would be much kinder and politer for the bride to invite her sister’s fiance; I agree, and I hope it works out that way.