‘Cougar’ al­le­ga­tion tear­ing fam­ily apart

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Advice -

Dear Amy: I have had a woman in my life who has been like a mother to me since child­hood. When I had each of my three chil­dren, she came out to help me. She has been like a grand­mother to my kids for their en­tire lives. She is lovely and we all adore her.

This past sum­mer I vis­ited her with two of my chil­dren. She had two sec­ond cousins vis­it­ing, also. I thought the visit went well. She was very kind and gra­cious.

How­ever, a week or so af­ter we re­turned home, she wouldn’t re­spond to any calls or texts. The only time she did re­spond was to ask me if I was go­ing to see a ther­a­pist. I was su­per con­fused, but found out later, via an email that had passed around to mem­bers of her fam­ily, that her fam­ily had ac­cused me of com­ing on to the two male cousins while I was there.

In the email, she stated that al­though she never wit­nessed this, she was hurt that I would do this to her fam­ily.

Amy, I have no in­ter­est in other men be­sides my hus­band and would never be­have in this way. Th­ese men are also younger than I. I am no cougar.

I think her fam­ily mem­bers were ex­tremely jeal­ous of our close bond, and this was their mo­ti­va­tion.

She has not only cut off all com­mu­ni­ca­tion with me, but she won’t talk to my chil­dren. They don’t un­der­stand why their “grandma” wants noth­ing to do with them. They feel they are be­ing re­jected by some­one they loved and trusted.

What do I tell them, and how do we move for­ward?

— Won­der­ing

Dear Won­der­ing: You should tell your chil­dren, “Grandma seems to be strug­gling with some­thing; it has noth­ing to do with you, and I’m hop­ing to clear things up with her, but I think it’s go­ing to take some time.”

Write to her. Deny all ac­cu­sa­tions. Do not ac­cuse her fam­ily mem­bers of jeal­ousy — you don’t want to back her into a cor­ner.

Af­firm your af­fec­tion and warm feel­ings. Re­mind her of your long and lov­ing his­tory. Tell her that the kids love and miss her, and tell her that you hope she will see it in her heart to stay in all of your lives.

The rest is up to her. She may be boxed in by th­ese fam­ily mem­bers. If so, there is not much you can do other than be pa­tient and hope she comes around. Pe­ri­odic newsy and neu­tral emails/letters catch­ing her up on your lives (and ask­ing about hers) might help her to move for­ward.

She may want to let this mat­ter pass with­out dis­cussing it, and if this is the case, I think you should let her. Let your re­la­tion­ship nor­mal­ize again, and ta­ble a more se­ri­ous dis­cus­sion un­til you’re both on firmer foot­ing.

Dear Amy: I still have feel­ings for my old col­lege crush! She laughed at my jokes, talked to me ev­ery day and over­all was just re­ally im­por­tant to me.

We haven’t talked in two years, and I want to reach out to her. Would it be weird to do so?

— Wor­ried Grad

Dear Wor­ried: No, it would not be weird to reach out to a col­lege friend. It would only be weird if you made it so.

You should con­tact her through so­cial me­dia or email. Keep your com­mu­ni­ca­tion sim­ple: “Hi ‘Tiff ’ — I was think­ing about you and won­der how you’re do­ing. I’ve man­aged to avoid liv­ing in my par­ents’ base­ment but have way too many room­mates ...”

Tell her what you’re do­ing with your time, say some­thing funny and close with, “Get in touch when you have a chance. I’d love to catch up.”

Dear Amy: “Wor­ried Gran” was up­set about her grand­son va­p­ing around his baby. I re­ally wish you knew what you were talk­ing about be­fore an­swer­ing.

Va­p­ing is not dan­ger­ous. Your alarmist re­ac­tion that he should wash his hands af­ter va­p­ing is ridicu­lous, be­cause va­p­ing de­vices do not trans­mit nico­tine to fin­gers.

This young dad can pro­tect his child from nico­tine traces by wear­ing a “smok­ing jacket.”

— Up­set with You

Dear Up­set: I am a for­mer smoker; oc­ca­sional va­p­ing helped me to quit nico­tine al­to­gether, so I do have per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence with it.

More im­por­tant, the Amer­i­can Academy of Pe­di­atrics warns about sec­ond­hand nico­tine ex­po­sure, es­pe­cially to chil­dren. I agree with you that smok­ing out­side and us­ing a smok­ing jacket will help. Copy­right 2018 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tri­bune Con­tent Agency

By Amy Dickinson

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