Dear Abby: My 87-year-old mother is narcissistic, self-absorbed and extremely cruel. Her doctor has consulted with my sister and me and verified these challenging traits. When she says something or acts out, she'll say, "I am who I am, so don't expect me to change."
How can my sister and I deal with the needs of an elderly parent who verbally and emotionally mistreats us and others? My sister is starting to react in a defensive, angry manner, and all I do is cry and feel guilty for wanting to get away from her.
Reached Wit's End in Loma Linda, Calif.
Dear Reached Wit's End: Because your mother is behaving the way she always has, her unpleasantness can't be blamed on old age. The next time she acts out and tells you, "I am who I am, so don't expect me to change," respond by saying: "That's right. You are who you are, but I don't have to subject myself to this. If it happens again, I'm out of here." Then follow through.
If that doesn't discourage her unpleasant behavior, consider hiring a social worker or licensed caregiver to see her needs are attended to. That's not abandonment; it's self-defense.
Dear Abby: I am a man in my 40s. My girlfriend and I have known each other for four years, but have grown much closer over the past few months. She's divorced with no kids.
I have asked her to stop going to a gym that she regularly visits. In the past, she had sex with a guy from there. He no longer goes there, but she craves that environment. She says she goes to keep in shape. I say she made a name for herself there, and requested she go to another gym. What do you think?
Jeff in N.J.
Dear Jeff: The individual this lady had the fling with is long gone. I doubt that anyone at that gym cares or remembers. If the "atmosphere" has you worried, go with her, and I'm sure you will quickly realize that the members go there to tone up rather than hook up.
A word of advice: The harder you try to control your girlfriend, the further you'll drive her away.
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