Dear Annie: My younger sister and I are young adults currently living with our grandparents to ease the commute to school and work. We spent most of our elementary and middle school years at our grandparents' house after school, over the summer or when we were sick. Our mother works near their house as well, and she stops by every couple of weeks to check up on them.
The problem is Grandma's outlook. We try our best, but she always finds something wrong with us. If we clean the bathroom, we didn't do it right. We either don't eat her food or we eat too much of it. She has become less pleasant to be around and we don't know how to tell her that her yelling and complaints are the reason.
Our grandfather prefers to stay out of Grandma's way when she berates us, unless he thinks we are being disrespectful and talking back. What's the most hurtful is that she blames our mistakes on Mother, saying that it is her poor parenting that has resulted in the electric bill going up $20 and the dryer breaking.
We love our grandmother, but she has become so difficult. I cannot remember the last time she praised us or asked about our day. My sister avoids her by staying out of the house, which results in complaints from Grandma that she's never home.
I'm tired of this. I don't want to come across as an ungrateful grandchild, so how do I get the negativity to stop? -- Teary-Eyed and Frustrated
Dear Teary: First of all, please consider the burden you are placing on Grandma. She loves you and wants to help you. But you also require effort and money, both of which may be more complicated today than when you were younger. She, too, is stuck, but her way of expressing that conflict is to complain a lot. It is not uncommon for some folks to focus on the negative without realizing how they come across, and this can get worse with age.
We assume you are doing your part to clean up after yourselves and help with meals, laundry and housework. So sit down with Grandma when it's quiet and chores are done. Tell her sweetly that you love her and don't mean to make her life difficult, but the constant complaints are wearing you down and she surely doesn't intend to be so unpleasant. Ask how you can make her day easier. If she still complains, turn a deaf ear, and when it becomes possible, find a place of your own.
Dear Annie: Please tell "Confused and Torn" that if she truly loves her Pomeranian, "Clover," she will put her to sleep.
I know how she feels. I am 72 and have had to face this situation at least three times. The first time, I put it off and it was a mistake. My dear dog suffered because I was selfish, and I swore would never again put any animal through that. The most recent dog, Tilley, a lovely little greyhound, died four years ago and I still miss her terribly. But I am comforted knowing that she did not suffer.
Please help "Confused" understand that if she really loves Clover, she will do what is right for her. All my sympathies. It is so very hard, as the right thing so frequently is. -- Pet Lover in Jacksonville, Florida
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailboxcreators.com or write to Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies.
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