Dear Annie: This letter is a message to "Fed Up," the reader whose husband dotes on their daughters. She needs to know that her husband, as well-meaning as he is, is NOT doing your daughters any favors. I know this all too well by example. My mother never learned to be independent. From her earliest childhood, my grandparents took care of my mother and father: Paying for their mortgage, bailing them out when they got into monetary trouble because of my father, and so much more.
Grandma continued this practice after my Grandpa passed, until the day she passed away. I was informed by Grandma, who I loved dearly, on my 16th birthday, that she expected me to grow up and fill her shoes. I was expected to take care of my mother, as she knew very well that my mother wasn't capable of it.
I quietly refused and moved several hundred miles away. Upon Grandma's passing, I was shocked to learn that she had gone through six figures in money taking care of my mother. My mother did inherit a little money from Grandma, had my father's pension and her own Social Security and other tiny incomes — enough that, if she were careful, she could have lived comfortably to the end. Instead, she spent it on cruises, trips and other expensive things.
In the end, she passed utterly penniless; her home was foreclosed upon because she ignored the property taxes that Grandma had always paid, and she neglected to have things repaired in the house that needed repairing. When she was evicted, she had no heat and no hot water.
Is this an extreme case? Likely, but it is also what could happen if "Fed Up's" husband doesn't make his "little girls" grow up. Show him my letter and ask him this: What will happen to them when you and I are gone? — Saw It Before
Dear Saw It Before: Thank you for your letter. You give some stark examples of what can happen when you give and give without teaching your children personal responsibility.
Dear Annie: I'm very much in love with a man three years younger than me, and we are getting married in February. We are both in our 60s. He is an incredible man. His wife of 32 years died four years ago, and I've been widowed for 10 years.
My issue is that he still has pictures of his wife with him on vacation, on cruises and sports events, and a huge portrait of them that hangs in the den.
Am I being crazy? This bothers me a little, but I don't know how to approach him about it. He placed a picture of the two of us right next to a picture of him with his late wife. I own my own house, and he owns his house, and the plan is for me to move into his house. Should I let this go? It is absolutely the only thing that gets to me about our relationship. Help! — A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words
Dear Picture: His wife of 32 years is a part of what made him special — the person you love. At the same time, it is not fair to you to be reminded all the time about his late wife. I would let him know your feelings. Perhaps, as you move in, you could agree to have one photo of you and your late husband and one photo of him and his late wife, along with photos of the two of you.
The other photos can be saved in boxes and albums, so you will both have them to see whenever you want, but neither of you will be forced to focus on the past. You did not mention children. If there are photos of his late wife with their children or of your late husband with your children, then you might agree on a compromise for displaying them — or giving them to the children.
He sounds like a very reasonable man, and if you have this conversation before you are married, my guess is that he will understand. Congrats on finding true love.