Dig deeper to learn why mom is such a grouch at care home

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - ARTS & LIFE -

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I love my mom, but no­body else can stand her. She’s a bit weird, but she’s de­light­ful com­pany to me as I won’t put up with any of her guff. At the per­sonal care home where she lives, she is cranky and gives ev­ery­one grief over ev­ery lit­tle thing. I don’t now how to change her. I can’t tell ev­ery­one at the home to tell her off, like I have had to do. What do you sug­gest? — Daugh­ter of Grump, Win­nipeg

Dear Daugh­ter of Grump: Is she act­ing like this be­cause she’s scared and throw­ing out spikes like a por­cu­pine as pro­tec­tion? She does know how to be­have well and be charm­ing with some­one she loves, such as you, but then, she’s sure of your love. You’ve al­ready had some dust-ups and got past them to find a peace­ful bal­ance.

Take her out for a trip some­where, such as your place, and ask her to tell you what up­sets her about the per­sonal care home. I’m guess­ing she’ll say some­thing such as, “No­body likes me there. They’d like to get rid of me.” But, If ev­ery­thing she dis­likes at the care home is mi­nor, it could be she just wants to live some­where else — pos- si­bly your house.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t want to take her in, but do tell her the truth if that’s not go­ing to hap­pen. She needs to know that she can stop work­ing that an­gle. Sug­gest she make a change where she lives. Tell her that treat­ing staff bet­ter will help her de­velop friend­ships with them and other peo­ple who live there. (Right now they will be giv­ing her a wide berth.)

Per­haps she’s bored silly, and doesn’t have enough to do. Try to find out what all is of­fered in terms of ac­tiv­i­ties and out­ings and help her get signed up.

Or, do you think she’s de­pressed? Per­haps you could talk to her doc­tors about that and a pos­si­ble change in her med­i­ca­tion.

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I re­cently have fallen deeply in love with an amaz­ing man who im­mi­grated to Canada some years ago. He’s warm, lov­ing and pas­sion­ate with many qual­i­ties I’ve al­ways dreamed of find­ing in a true love; how­ever, he re­cently dis­closed he had a very trou­bled child­hood, with years of phys­i­cal and emo­tional abuse.

Af­ter many tears, he also re­vealed that he is es­sen­tially il­lit­er­ate due to his abusers not giv­ing him the op­por­tu­nity to at­tend school. He is still a very in­tel­li­gent, thought­ful man who has a lot of wis­dom to share, de­spite his lack of ed­u­ca­tion. This doesn’t di­min­ish my love or pas­sion for him in any way. As a mat­ter of fact, it makes me fu­ri­ously pro­tec­tive and loyal to him.

It wor­ries me that oth­ers may not be so kind if they find out about this and may think he is not a good match for me since I am an ed­u­cated, in­tel­li­gent woman. He has al­ready emo­tion­ally healed in so many ways through his lov­ing spir­i­tu­al­ity, and has a strong sup­port­ive net­work within his com­mu­nity, but he is still deeply ashamed of his lack of ed­u­ca­tion, and I’m only one of a few who know his se­cret.

I want to help him find the re­sources for his lit­er­acy is­sues, but he’s a proud man, so there needs to be a cer­tain fi­nesse in find­ing the right ap­proach. Any ad­vice would be greatly ap­pre­ci­ated. — Love Shows No Bound­aries, Win­nipeg

Dear Love Shows No Bound­aries: You’re aware your man needs to learn to read in a very re­spect­ful en­vi­ron­ment. De­pend­ing on your per­son­al­ity and his manly pride, you may not be the best per­son to teach him. The direc­tory for the Man­i­toba gov­ern­ment’s adult learn­ing and lit­er­acy depart­ment is at gov.mb.ca/all. Click on the “Learn­ers” link on the left to ac­cess the full direc­tory of pro­grams avail­able and, if pos­si­ble, print out the in­for­ma­tion book­let.

If your sweet­heart is will­ing to work with you on read­ing, and doesn’t want to go out­side home to learn, where he might be dis­cov­ered, help him! Don’t think you have to use se­ri­ous-look­ing easy-English books. An ex­cel­lent ar­ti­cle on the dif­fer­ent types of books pre­ferred to use with adults sur­pris- in­gly talks about how bor­ing those text­books are (find it at lit­er­acy.kent. edu/Oa­sis/Pubs/0200-12.htm). It dis­cusses the uses of pic­ture books with sim­ple writ­ing be­low that are ap­peal­ing to ev­ery­one from chil­dren to adults and in­cludes lists of such books to start you out.

When I taught English as a sec­ond lan­guage, my stu­dents got a kick out of read­ing words from cat­a­logues, ad­ver­tis­ing fly­ers and easy car­toons. Of course, we started out by learn­ing the al­pha­bet, but not all of the let­ters and sounds at one time. You have to mix it up and keep peo­ple smil­ing. I had my stu­dents teach me their lan­guages and songs at the ends of classes to show re­spect for their dif­fer­ent cul­tures.

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: Ever since I got caught hav­ing a mean­ing­less af­fair my hus­band has been stick­ing me with barbs. Even though I apol­o­gized, I can’t do any­thing right, and he acts like I’m not wor­thy of his re­spect. This morn­ing at break­fast our old­est teenager asked why we were al­ways fight­ing, and my hus­band said, “I’m not fight­ing, I’m just point­ing out a few things your mother needs to learn.” My son snorted and said, “Well stay to­gether, or break up over the af­fairs you two have had since I was 13 years old, but stop the con­stant bick­er­ing. I’m out of here at the end of school in June and mov­ing to B.C.” My hus­band’s mouth flew open. He thought no­body knew about his af­fair five years ago. I did — that’s why I felt free to get even this sum­mer.

Our son is 18, and al­though we al­ways said he could to a univer­sity out­side Win­nipeg if he wanted to, we never thought he would leave his friends and fam­ily and not go to school af­ter Grade 12. It’s un­think­able. He is a very in­tel­li­gent kid and an ex­cel­lent stu­dent. His dad and I are in shock. What can we do to make him stay? — Shocked Par­ent, Win­nipeg

Dear Shocked Par­ent: Your son has been shocked for years. He wants hon­esty now. Ei­ther fix your re­la­tion­ship or break up. Kids aren’t blind or deaf to the hos­tile be­hav­iours be­tween their par­ents, al­though they may be silent, fear­ing their home will blow apart. Your son had to be at his wits end to speak up to both of you about it, so you’d best be­lieve him when he says he wants to get out of your house and out of town.

Your best move is to call a re­la­tion­ship coun­sel­lor to­day and let your son know you are both go­ing. At some point he may want to go to a coun­selling ses­sion and get out ev­ery­thing he needs to say with a ref­eree in the room. Be aware other kids in the fam­ily may know, too. They are not blind or deaf, ei­ther. Please send your ques­tions and com­ments to love­coach@hot­mail.com or Miss Lonelyhearts c/o the Win­nipeg Free Press, 1355 Moun­tain Ave., Win­nipeg,

MB, R2X 3B6

MAU­REEN SCURFIELD

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