"If a friend is in trouble, don't annoy him by asking if there's anything you can do. Think up something appropriate and do it." -- Howe
Couple Told They'll Be Vacationing With Niece
(taken from 4/15/21 "Ask Amy")
LETTER: My husband and I are planning to take a trip to Disney World several months from now.
Today I received an email from my sister, saying that her daughter, “Hillary,” “…is thinking about joining you on the Disney trip. Would you be able to give her some additional information about what is planned?”
Hillary was never invited to join us. She is lovely, but it is not possible for us to have her along on this vacation.
It is causing grief for my family. It is not as simple as saying no. My family will be considered the bad guys if we do.
Please advise me on how to handle this without causing family strife?
Amy wants you to be polite and good-natured as you say no to Hillary. Skillz suggests a little creativity:
SKILLZ SAYS: It's astounding the lack of basic etiquette and consideration your sister is displaying in this instance. I don't know what type of person she is otherwise, but if turning down her request will cause "family strife", she likely isn't a congenial type.
When you're dealing with people like this, I encourage fudging the truth, especially if your ULTIMATE goal is avoiding family strife. With that in mind, here are two suggestions on what to say to your sister:
"(Sister), what I'm about to tell you is extremely embarrassing, please try to understand. (Husband) and I have been having...sexual issues. and we both decided that to spice things up in our relationship, we will be making the drive to Disneyland naked. Not even shoes. And we plan to, uh, express our love inside at least one of the attractions so there's a decent chance we might get ejected from the park within a couple of hours. Believe me, I WANT to take Hillary, and under any other circumstance I would. But my marriage is on the line."
"(Sister), we are indeed going to Disney World later in the year, but not for the reason you think. You see, it's like this: we are going there to protest, well, everything. We don't think children should be around anthropomorphic animals because it'll confuse them. We believe the employees aren't properly trained on handling ALL emergencies, like a takeover by Al-Qaeda. And we really don't like that people can get so wet at the water parks; to us, it's like waterboarding them. Plus, we read on the Internet that Walt Disney was a Trump supporter."
If you do this properly, nobody will want young Hillary on that trip with you. Granted, you will be unable to post any photos of yourselves actually having a good time on social media, but you gotta make these types of sacrifices to keep the peace sometimes. WIN! You're welcome.
P.S. If your niece truly is lovely, take her somewhere else before the Disney trip, especially if you don't take my other advice.
Positive Penny Meets Negative Nancy
(taken from 1/23/21 "Ask Amy")
LETTER: I’ve known “Sandy” for 20 years. She lives on the West Coast and I now live on the East Coast. My husband and I moved three years ago, but I’ve stayed in touch with my friends.
I supported Sandy through her chemo when she was being treated for cancer.
I’ve sent her cards, letters and flowers when she was depressed about being sick and losing her hair.
I’ve sent her suggestions for good movies and shows to watch.
Whenever I phone her, she won’t answer the phone but will send me an email or text.
Sandy has recovered.
Lately, during the pandemic, I’ve noticed that she ignores any positive, happy, or upbeat information I send her.
There is just no response. Nothing. She doesn’t say if she is interested, she doesn’t ask me to stop sending her photos — nothing.
I’m an artist and I love to share news about paintings I’ve done or home remodeling projects my husband and I have managed to do.
I’m of the opinion that friends should be happy for their friends, and good news is fun to share!
If I send Sandy bad news, she’s all over it. She responded to news that our house was broken into. She responded when I told her my laundry room was flooded.
All she likes to hear is bad news. Why is this? How do I deal with a negative Nancy?
Amy basically told you what you already knew, and told you to stop being so positive. Skillz has more for ya:
SKILLZ SAYS: I am a depression sufferer, and it sounds like while your friend may have recovered from her cancer (hoorah), the depression remains (crud). At least I hope that's what's going on here, because otherwise your friend just sucks as a friend and a human being.
It is possible, however, that she's not depressed and you're just overwhelming her. Are you sending her updates on paintings every doggone day? There's only so much of that even the happiest of friends can stand. Are you recommending a new show to watch every three hours? The world knows about Rookie Blue by now, I promise. When she answered the phone in the past, did you ever let her get any words in? Or was it just a monologue about all the remodeling you and your husband do?
You have got to start sharing your positive news with other friends because obviously, Sandy doesn't want to hear it. She's lacking what you have and every time you bring it up, it's like rubbing it in her face. Sandy may even enjoy hearing about bad stuff happening to you specifically.
If you want to remain in contact, you're gonna have to cater to Sandy by coating your good news with a hint of bad news, even if you have to fabricate it. For example: "Sandy, me and (husband) just finished putting new windows up in the foyer, but do you know his entire pants and underwear split while he was climbing the ladder?"
Or "There is this amazing new TV show on called The Neighborhood. You'll laugh...when you're not vomiting over how UGLY these people are!"
You could also create a painting of Godzilla burning people to death and see how Sandy responds. If you gradually chip away at her negativity with a bit of tainted positivity, you may get her interested enough in your life again to at least answer the phone. WIN! You're welcome.
Note: I personally don't find anyone on The Neighborhood ugly; I just don't know many new TV shows.
Son With New Girlfriend Grows More Distant From His Mother
(taken from 1/14/21 "Dear Abby")
LETTER: I'm a mom of three young adults, a daughter and two sons. The oldest recently married. My youngest is finishing his last two years of college out of state. Three months ago, he met a young lady.
I have tried constantly to be close with all my children, but the youngest has always kept me at bay. He expresses how different we are. Now that he has met this young lady, I think he's trying to push me further away and continue on with her and her mom. It makes me sad because no matter how hard I try to be a good mother and be present, it doesn't work. What do you suggest?
Abby wanted you to accept your son's independence, but why do that when Skillz has an alternative?:
SKILLZ SAYS: What you've got to understand, ma'am, is that a lot of dudes don't want to be "close" with their mothers, no matter how good said mother may be. It's not a knock on your skillz as a parent or your qualities as a person. It's just that once dudes reach a certain age, they just don't want to lie in bed and watch movies with their mom. Or give/receive massages to/from their mom. Or tell their mom everything that they're feeling.
Can't understand that? Here's what you do:
Learn whatever you can about this girlfriend; Facebook/Instagram might be helpful. Then, gradually incorporate her lifestyle into yours—I'm talking style of dress, music tastes, even hobbies. I'm not suggesting you try to become your son's girlfriend—we here at TSR are not that radical or nasty—but there must be something besides this girl's body that drew your son to him. Perhaps he'll visit, catch you jammin' to some old-school Kesha, and think "Hey, maybe Mom's not so bad."
Not willing to risk creeping your son out? Fine. Then your other option is STOP BEING SO DIFFERENT from him. This will require lying and fakery on your part, but what do you value more, the truth or your relationship with your son? When he comes over praising Donald Trump, don't bite back singing all of Joe Biden's praises—praise Trump too! If your son puts peanut butter on his steak, DO IT TOO! You can always puke it up later!
Whatever your son feels, YOU now feel—even if it means you spend hours of your spare time immersed in Anime. WIN! You're welcome.