Dear Annie: My granddaughter, “Mary,” is employed full time, has two daughters, ages 10 and 5, and is pregnant with her third child, even though a divorce has been in the works for at least a year.
The problem is that Mary expects her mother, my daughter, “Cindy,” to provide daycare, often for 12 hours a day. Cindy is in her 60s and finds that her stamina is winding down. Not only that, but her loving care has been unappreciated, and she has been treated with disrespect and even contempt.
Without affordable daycare, Mary would have to quit her job and go back on welfare. She is putting a real guilt trip and extreme pressure on Cindy, and so are her husband and soon-to-be former in-laws.
I feel that my daughter is being taken advantage of, and I think she is becoming increasingly depressed. Just how obligated is she to continue babysitting under these circumstances?
-- Concerned Great-Grandma in Seattle
Dear Seattle: Both Cindy and Mary are in a difficult position. Since Mary is unlikely to make the effort, Cindy could look into available subsidized daycare or even after-school programs so she doesn’t need to be with the kids for such a long day. Can the in-laws babysit two days a week? What about taking the kids for a couple of hours a day to give Cindy a break? It is up to your daughter whether she wants to continue caring for the grandchildren, but she should look into possible compromises in case there is a better solution than all or nothing.
Dear Annie: I’m only 12, but I love reading your column. Here’s my problem: My younger sisters and I don’t get along. Even when I try to be nice to them, they’re always being mean. We are each two years apart, but I feel weak and pathetic around them. Sometimes they side with each other and bully me. Every kind thing I do for them is unappreciated, and they make me so angry, I fight back. A lot of the time it becomes physical.
I don’t want to have a bad relationship with them, but I fear things will never change.
-- The Hated Older Sister
Dear Sister: We think your siblings are too immature to understand the value of having a big sister who wants a closer relationship. Part of the reason they behave this way is to get a rise out of you and control your attention. Try to walk away from those engagements. Talk to your parents about mediating some of these fights. You also could discuss the problem with your school counselor. Remember, sisterhood is for the long haul. You may have to wait until your siblings are older before you can have the relationship you are hoping for, but if you are patient, it will happen.
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