Dear Annie: I am 15 and the oldest of four boys. During one of many fights between my parents, my mom left the house with my brothers and me, and we spent the night at a shelter.
Our grandparents told our father that we have no values because we went with our mom. They say we are old enough to know better. This makes us feel guilty about the fights. Now my grandparents refuse to see us even for our birthdays, because they say we are not loyal to the family and don’t deserve them.
Annie, we are losing our family and our grandparents all at once. Our school guidance counselor tells us it’s not our fault, but we feel like outcasts. We are no longer invited to any family events with our cousins. We feel abandoned. – Scared in Massachusetts
Dear Scared: Your grandparents don’t know how to fix the situation with your parents, so they take their frustrations out on you. You are an easy target and can’t fight back. Shame on them.
If you have other family members who are not part of this manipulative blackmail, please get closer to them. Otherwise, “family” can mean many things, including good friends, teachers, neighbors and others who take an interest in your life and are good influences. Lean on them. And continue to talk to your guidance counselor, who obviously understands the problem and can help.
Q. I am a working professional woman in my 50s. For some reason, my dentist, a man in his 30s, calls me “dear.” The first time he did this, I was mortified and didn’t know how to respond to such a condescending remark. I like my dentist. He’s otherwise a competent professional. How do I respond in an appropriate way to this inappropriate manner of addressing me? – Need To Know in Saskatoon
A. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he addresses all of his patients as “dear,” regardless of age or gender. He probably has no idea that anyone finds it offensive. You need to speak up. The next time he does this, simply say, “I’d prefer that you call me “Miss Smith,” or however you want him to address you. You may need to do this more than once, but we assure you, he’ll eventually get the message.
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