Dear Abby

Mom’s help­ful hints be­come crit­i­cism in girl­friend’s ears.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - Abi­gail Van Buren Dear Abby is writ­ten by Abi­gail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Con­tact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los An­ge­les, CA 90069. Abby shares more than 100 of her

DEAR ABBY: I’m frus­trated about how to con­nect with my young adult son’s 18-year-old girl­friend. He told me she has a bad re­la­tion­ship with her di­vorced par­ents, so he’s hop­ing we can bond.

A prob­lem that comes up fre­quently is, she’s so anx­ious to show me how skilled and knowl­edge­able she is, she misses any tips and tech­niques I try to sub­tly teach her.

They live to­gether in another state, so our week­end vis­its at each other’s homes seem to am­plify the prob­lem.

I’ll give you an ex­am­ple: When I re­moved ice cubes from an ice tray, I ran wa­ter over the bot­tom briefly be­fore twist­ing the tray. She laughed like I was clue­less and said, “You don’t have to do that, just twist the tray!” I replied that the wa­ter helped re­lease the cubes more cleanly “be­cause of the physics of the warmer wa­ter.” She teared up, left the room and told my son (who re­peated it to me) that I was be­ing crit­i­cal of her.

I have ex­pressed ap­pre­ci­a­tion for her, and my son has re­as­sured her of my in­ten­tions, but I’m get­ting tired of tip­toe­ing around her is­sues.

How can I help her un­der­stand that she can learn from me with­out it mean­ing that I think any less of her? — ON EGGSHELLS IN MON­TANA

DEAR ON EGGSHELLS: It might be a good idea to quit try­ing to mother or teach this young woman any­thing un­less you are specif­i­cally asked, be­cause it ap­pears she’s not in­ter­ested in learn­ing from you.

From where I sit, you not only were not crit­i­cal of her, but the op­po­site was true of what hap­pened in that kitchen. If she hadn’t laughed at you — ridiculed you — for the way you emp­tied the ice tray, you wouldn’t have felt it nec­es­sary to ex­plain your tech­nique. So take a step back and stop try­ing to help her, be­cause it’s ob­vi­ously not ap­pre­ci­ated.

DEAR ABBY: I have new down­stairs neigh­bours. While they ap­pear to be pleas­ant in most cir­cum­stances, I can­not ig­nore the fact that the wife cries in­con­solably in their bed­room three or four times a week, late at night.

I never hear any yelling or dis­rup­tion that leads up to this, just loud sob­bing in the bed­room that keeps me up sev­eral times a week.

I don’t think she’s be­ing abused, but I do think she might be de­pressed.

Can you think of any kind way to send her to my ther­a­pist up the street for some help? Stick a busi­ness card in their door anony­mously? Bring it up more di­rectly? — UP ALL NIGHT IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

DEAR UP ALL NIGHT: Talk pri­vately with the woman and tell her you are con­cerned about her be­cause you have heard her cry­ing. Do not ask her why, but if she vol­un­teers, lis­ten to what she has to say. She may need a grief sup­port group or, as you sug­gested, a ther­a­pist. If ei­ther of those is the case, you should sug­gest it.

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