Col­lege stu­dent flum­moxes his mother with his tantrums and com­plaints

The China Post - - LIFE -

DEAR AN­NIE: When my brother “Steve” comes home from col­lege, he stays up un­til 3 a.m., sleeps un­til 2 in the af­ter­noon, and leaves his chores and homework un­til the very last minute.

I don’t un­der­stand why he doesn’t keep a regular sleep sched­ule or take care of his homework and other chores early in the week. In­stead, he dumps his laun­dry on the floor and “for­gets” about it un­til he has no clothes left, some­thing that stresses him out and makes him lash out at me. He also com­plains to me about in­ci­dents that oc­curred years ago and still make him an­gry now.

I’ve tried to talk to my mother about it, but I end up sound­ing like a bro­ken record. Steve man­ages to be re­spon­si­ble for him­self at his school, so why doesn’t that re­spon­si­bil­ity fol­low him home?

— Pulling My Hair Out

Dear Pulling: Be­cause he re­verts to his less- re­spon­si­ble child­hood when he is home. Part of mov­ing out of your par­ents’ house, whether for col­lege or work, is to de­velop the skills nec­es­sary to be in­de­pen­dent. This doesn’t hap­pen overnight. Steve is try­ing to grow up, al­beit slowly and in spurts, and needs to do it on his own.

So here’s a life les­son for you: You are not re­spon­si­ble for Steve’s bad habits, whether or not he suc­ceeds, or how stressed he be­comes. Do your best to ig­nore those things, ab­sent your­self or ex­press sym­pa­thy (nod know­ingly and say, “That’s rough”) while re­main­ing neu­tral. If he brings up things from the past, re­spond the same way. If he can­not seem to get over old hurts and grudges, then sug­gest he speak to his col­lege coun­selor when he gets back to school. But please, do not en­gage in an ar­gu­ment. It serves no pur­pose and will only make you mis­er­able.

DEAR AN­NIE: My wife re­cently passed away af­ter nearly 60 years to­gether. I miss her more than words can say.

While se­lect­ing a vase at the fu­neral par­lor to hold my wife’s ashes, I no­ticed match­ing minia­ture vases. I or­dered six, three for our grown chil­dren and three for my wife’s sis­ters. My chil­dren were de­lighted to re­ceive them.

The prob­lem is, my wife’s sis­ters con­sider my gift to be in ex­tremely poor taste and I fear it may have caused ir­repara­ble dam­age to our re­la­tion­ship. What I thought would be a vis­i­ble and last­ing re­mem­brance of their lov­ing sis­ter has turned ugly.

Did my grief af­fect my judg­ment? Was I out of line?

— Heart­bro­ken Brother-in-Law

Dear Heart­bro­ken: We think your wife’s sis­ters are the ones whose grief has af­fected their judg­ment. Your gift was thought­ful and kind, but per­haps too dif­fi­cult for them to process right now. Please apol­o­gize to them for not con­sult­ing them first to see whether they wanted th­ese gifts. Let them know you value the re­la­tion­ship, and ask how to make things bet­ter.

Dear Read­ers: To­day is Flag Day and the 36th an­nual Pause for the Pledge of Al­le­giance at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). For more in­for­ma­tion, log on to amer­i­can­flag­foun­da­ An­nie’s Mail­box is writ­ten by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, long­time ed­i­tors of the Ann Lan­ders col­umn. Please email your ques­tions to an­nies­mail­box@ cre­, or write to: An­nie’s Mail­box, c/o Cre­ators Syn­di­cate, 737 3rd Street, Her­mosa Beach, CA, USA.

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