Dear Amy: I am 20 years old. I have never really had a relationship with my grandparents. I see them two or three times a year, usually on birthdays and holidays.
They are not nice people. Both are narcissists. They constantly make me miserable.
They pick on my relationship status, my schooling, and what I want to do with my life.
My mother no longer sees them, but they still reach out to my brother and me. My brother and I have visited them (without our mother) for the past few years.
I always knew they were abusive to my mom growing up. But I just recently found out that my grandfather sexually assaulted my mother from the age of 9 to 12, only stopping when there was a risk of her getting pregnant.
My grandparents still call her when they need to blow off steam and they yell, gaslight and degrade her.
My grandparents have never done anything physical to me. They just pick on me relentlessly.
I no longer want to have any contact with them. I cannot support their abuse and terrible treatment of my mother.
But I have no idea how to separate amicably, especially since my brother, aunt and cousins still see them.
How do I tell them I don’t want to see them?
— Fed-up Granddaughter
Dear Fed-up: I intuit that you want to separate from these people amicably because on some level you are afraid of them, and – given what you know about them — your fear is rational. You are wise to pay attention.
You don’t mention how your mother has managed; she may have good advice for you.
If you don’t want to confront them, you can simply back away. Stop visiting. Don’t contact them, and if you do respond, you could try saying: “I’ve never liked the way you’ve treated me. Now that I’m an adult, I’ve decided to back away.”
Your grandfather’s sexual abuse and their shared cruelty has created a generational and painful legacy.
I can’t say what is best for you, but you and your mother might eventually be inspired to confront them directly. It would be wisest to do this with the guidance and support of a compassionate therapeutic professional.
You and your mother would both benefit from the information about sexual violence offered by the National Sexual Assault Hotline at RAINN.org. Text and phone counseling are available 24/7.
Dear Amy: My teenage daughter had one of her longtime friends over.
My 19-year-old son walked into the kitchen to microwave his coffee, and even though he was mere feet away from my daughter’s friend, he did not say hello to her.
I think this is very rude.
I didn’t think I raised my children this way. My other two children who are more outgoing always make it a point to greet people.
He says it is not necessary and that when he goes to his friends’ houses those families do not say hello to him, either.
I believe you should always greet people when they enter your home.
Are simple manners a thing of the past?
Dear Rude: I don’t believe that simple manners have totally gone by the wayside but because well-mannered people seem to be rarer these days, those who are polite really stand out!
You provide a bit of a clue to your son’s behavior when you describe your other children as “more outgoing.”
If your son is an introvert, or simply more reserved or shy, something as simple as a “hi” greeting in the kitchen might be a big lift for him. All the same, he should recognize that this is a worthy goal — and work on it.
I coached a shy young family member to use a “silent hello.”
When words fail, eye contact and a smile can go a very long way.
Dear Amy: I am disgusted by the continued “fat shaming” in your column. Please stop.
Dear Disgusted: Shaming is certainly not my intent, and I apologize to people who have been offended.
Obesity is classified as a serious disease by the CDC. As I have stated repeatedly, obesity is not a personal or moral failing. Obese people can also be healthy, fit, and strong. I have also written — many times — that obese people don’t need others to notify them that they are fat — the world already does that.
I agree that obesity is unfairly stigmatized, but I am hopeful that our current consciousness regarding body acceptance will make it less so.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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