Young mother nurturing through stressful life

Dear Dad: My stepdaughter Krystal has a toxic relationship with her mother. Both fought alcoholism. The mother caused some serious damage that ended the possibility of Crystal regaining custody of her 6-year-old son. My husband and I hired a lawyer to help her fight for her rights, and we’ve brought her to our house twice. The last time she was out of the hospital right after she nearly killed herself with alcohol poisoning.

Fast forward: Krystal tries to mend her relationship with her mother, and now we’re like a second. What was once a daily phone conversation now only happens when I call. When we try to visit them, they make excuses, and they have only visited us twice in the past 6 months. Her last plan was to stay overnight with us and spend the next day with her mother.

We swallow our pride so we can see our 6-month-old granddaughter, but our feelings are too painful. Please help me take the highway. Do we talk to her or do we feel robbed?

He was injured in Michigan

Dearly wounded: Your troubled daughter-in-law is trying to mend fences with her mother. Try not to take it personally that she has tunnel vision at the moment. I don’t think you should address this with her at this time. Let more time pass, and if she continues to diverge, talk to her about it afterward.

Dear Abby: My husband and I live in South Florida. My problem is our children, grandchildren and their spouses. When they come to visit, they only eat certain foods and they need “that healthy” and “healthy”. It feels like we are using it as a hotel and restaurant. I want to see them, but it’s getting stressful. What should I do?

– Roll the back of the welcome mat

Dear Roller: Roll this welcome mat. Talk to your children, grandchildren and their spouses. They may not realize how much they have imposed on you. Tell them that if they have special dietary requirements, they should buy their own, and you will make room in the refrigerator to accommodate them. If having them in your home becomes too stressful, provide a list of affordable hotels or rentals in the area they might consider.

Dear Abby: I am a 91-year-old female, 4’8″ and still drives and goes alone shopping and doing business. My problem is that I am often approached by strangers who want to “help” me. This scares me because I can’t defend myself. While someone holding a door open for me is appreciated, I have no way of identifying a purse snatcher who might be intent on taking me down. How can I communicate that I am able to take care of myself without offending the person?

– The great mother of the Midwest

Dear Grandmother: You are not the only old man who has expressed these feelings. Look into the person’s eyes and say firmly, “I know you mean well and thank you, but no thank you. I’d rather do it myself.”

Dear Dad: My first wife died of colon cancer 25 years ago. She was very brave and fought hard for two years, but in the end, it was a blessing when her suffering ended. I got married again 20 years ago, and my second wife was diagnosed with the same cancer. When the diagnosis came back, I must admit that my first reaction was wanting to escape because I didn’t want to go through that again.

I know I can’t escape, but fear and anxiety overcome. I’ve thought about suicide but I won’t do it unless my wife dies. I can’t live with this pain any longer. I know I should see a counselor, but now it’s my wife who needs attention. My world is in turmoil. I don’t think I can work effectively. I’m lost. I don’t even know what to ask you, but if you have any suggestions I would be glad to.

Miserable in the West

Dear miserable: I am sorry about your wife’s diagnosis and the tremendous stress she is under. But it is very important that you and your spouse remember that there have been many advances in cancer treatment that did not exist a quarter of a century ago. For your own good, talk with her oncologist about the treatment options available to her and how you can support her through these options.

Caregiver support groups can be helpful if you choose to contact them. You will find them on, the website of the American Cancer Society. Please try it out and let me know how you are. Suicide is not the answer to your problem. Your wife’s life – and yours – is precious. She needs you, and that should be of utmost importance. If your suicidal thoughts persist, I urge you to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The number to call is 800-273-8255.

Dear Abby: I have what I believe is the opposite problem that many adult children have. My dad doesn’t want to spend the holidays with me or my sister. I’ve noticed this trend in the past few years, and it really hurts to accept it.

When I told him I was going to my uncle’s house last Christmas because I wanted to be with people who wanted me to be there, he agreed it was a good idea. His response crushed my soul. Then he expressed that the holidays aren’t really fun, that he doesn’t enjoy traveling and that we’re fighting through it.

I’m trying to accept that he doesn’t want to spend the holidays with us, and somehow he doesn’t feel rejected. It’s a struggle to feel loved by him. Any advice?

The unwanted adult child in Pennsylvania

Dear Unwanted: A lot of people get nervous around vacation time, especially when things don’t go as planned. Make plans to meet your dad that don’t include vacations. Because traveling is difficult for him, make alternate plans with him so that he does not feel nervous when visiting. If that doesn’t make things easier for both of you, arrange these holidays with more welcoming friends or relatives in the future.

About Dear Abby

Written by Abigail Van Buren, aka Jane Phillips, Dear Abby, it was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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