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Archive for Wednesday, October 18, 2000

Ungrateful daughter pushes parents out of her life

October 18, 2000

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Dear Ann: My daughter was in a terrible car accident 15 years ago, when she was 18 years old. She suffered many injuries, and was in the hospital for two months. My husband's insurance covered most of her hospital bills, and we stood by her every step of the way during her long recovery.

Due to the severity of her injuries, we decided to file a lawsuit on her behalf to recover some of the money we had spent on her rehabilitation. During those years, I took my daughter to many doctors' appointments, and my husband and I spent long hours dealing with attorneys and depositions.

After 15 years, my daughter finally received her settlement and collected a huge amount of money. When we called to say we hoped to share in her good fortune, she said she didn't owe us any money since, as parents, we were expected to do what we did for her. Now, she barely speaks to us.

I am crushed, Ann. The money would have been nice, but all we really expected was some kind of acknowledgment from her about the part we played in this lawsuit. Just a simple "thank you" would have been enough. What's worse is that we no longer get to see our granddaughter. I just found out they are planning a birthday party for the girl, and we are not invited.

My husband says, as far as he is concerned, our daughter died 15 years ago in that accident. He wants nothing more to do with her. I cannot bear it, and I cry every night over the loss of my family. What should I do? Gloria in Pennsylvania

Dear Gloria: How sad that after all you have done for your daughter, she turned out to be so selfish and unappreciative. Obviously, you are not going to get a penny out of her, even though you deserve some remuneration for your financial help and some show of appreciation for your dedication. Taking her to court would cause irreparable damage and serve no useful purpose.

You still may be able to salvage the bond between you and your daughter. Reassure her that you do NOT want any of her money and wouldn't dream of asking for it. Your only desire is to recapture the loving relationship you once had and be close to your grandchild. Apologize for any misunderstanding. If necessary, ask a third party, perhaps a close relative or friend, to act as a mediator.

Your story brings to mind that famous quote from Shakespeare's "King Lear": "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child."

Dear Ann: For the past three years, I have been dating a wonderful man. "Mike" is kind, sensitive, funny, intelligent, well-educated, successful and good-looking. He treats me like a queen, and goes out of his way to do sweet things for me, such as buying my groceries and bringing me little gifts from time to time. We have a great relationship, and plan to be married when we finish graduate school.

So, you ask, what's the problem? Mike's table manners are terrible. He slurps his soup, chews with his mouth open, puts his elbows on the table, serves himself first, and holds his fork like a shovel. I grew up in a strict household where manners were important. His table manners are so bad that I am embarrassed when we eat out with other people. Mike grew up with well-educated parents. I can't understand why he doesn't know better. I have tried dropping hints, but he doesn't catch on. Any suggestions? Grossed Out in Chicago

Dear Grossed: Stop dropping hints, and tell Mike flat-out that his table manners need some work and you want to help him. If he's half the guy you've described, he will welcome your suggestions and be the better for your intervention. Be patient. You have a big job on your hands. Good luck.

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