Dear Abby: Young adult struggling as a full-time caregiver

Dear Abby
Jeanne Philips

Dear Abby: I’m 23 years old and caring for my two grandparents. My dad, their only son, lives with them, but avoids them at all costs, no matter how much I beg him to help. He causes more problems than he solves. I graduated from college last year, but because of all the doctor appointments, nurse visits and the attention they need, there’s no way I can work. My life is completely absorbed in caring for them.

I’m going crazy! They don’t want to leave their home and won’t pay me or anyone else to care for them, but they need round-the-clock care. I’m not asking for help with THEM, I’m asking for help with balance. How can I be a young adult and full-time caregiver?

— In Difficult Circumstances

Dear I.D.C.: You can’t. The longer you allow this to continue, the more trapped you will become. Contact senior services and inform them about what’s going on with your dad and your grandparents. Then find a job. I am sure there are many available openings right now. You may have to continue living with your grandparents for a while, but as soon as you can manage it, you should live independently.

As to your father, tell him that if he doesn’t accept at least some of the responsibility for his parents’ care, you will report him to adult protective services for neglect. It may not make you popular, but if you don’t assume control of your future, you will become increasingly isolated.

Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: I have a strong, healthy bond with my 5- and 8-year-old daughters. When the older one was 6, my wife taught her not to let me see her naked when using the bathroom and bathing. That broke my heart. I’m OK with it now, but my wife is now discouraging them from sitting on my lap. I’m a loving and responsible dad, and I would never do any harm to my kids, or do the things my wife thinks I will do. What should I do?

— Not Trusted in California

Dear Not Trusted: What you should do is discuss with her the reasons for her fears about the safety of your daughters. The answer may be that when she was small, she was molested by a male relative she trusted. There is nothing wrong with 5-year-old and 8-year-old girls sitting on their father’s lap. What is troubling is your wife’s reaction to it.

Dear Abby: My husband of six months (whom I do not live with) refuses to agree not to contact his ex-girlfriends. He refuses to send me copies of emails or texts from them, and won’t agree to allow me to send a polite, but firm, email requesting they stop contacting him, even though his therapist said it was OK to send. What should I do?

— Distrustful in New York

Dear Distrustful: The person you married clearly isn’t ready for the responsibilities of being a husband. Ask him if he’s willing to meet with a licensed marriage and family therapist. If he is unwilling, talk to a lawyer about an annulment. If you do, you may save yourself years of frustration and heartache.

Dear Abby: My husband of 42 years passed away two years ago. His children and I get along fine, but when he was alive, they never acknowledged our anniversary. Now that their dad is gone, they send me anniversary cards each year on the date. I find it annoying that they never thought to wish us “Happy Anniversary” while he was alive, which he would have loved. I suspect they just do it to try to stay on my good side and perhaps stay in my will. How do I politely tell them to stop, that their cards only remind me that my darling is gone and they never acknowledged our marriage when it would have actually meant something?

— Distressed Stepmom

Dear Distressed: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your beloved husband. After 42 years, the adjustment must be a very painful one. Because you want to be polite -- and perhaps maintain a cordial (if not loving) relationship with his children, convey that you would prefer they not send anniversary cards “because they are a painful reminder of his loss at a sensitive time.” RESIST the urge to point out that they failed to acknowledge the occasion during their father’s lifetime.

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