Question: My husband's sister has serious problems and she's a plain nuisance. She's always upset about something in her life and comes to our house, unannounced, to cry, whine and complain. For years I have tried to be helpful and understanding, but she doesn't change or grow, and I'm tired of it. I have tried to gently hint that she ought to see a therapist or minister and that she should call before she comes. She just ignores all of that and shows up whenever she wants.
My husband says it's his sister and I have to be more understanding - but I'm the one who has to sit and listen to her - not him. The problem is that we have three children and a life of our own. When she comes over on weekends I'm stuck listening to her and catering to her when I have errands and things I want to do with the kids. I've worked hard all week long - don't I deserve some privacy and freedom from her?
Dr. Laura: Many folks deal with difficult types in their family and lives by passing them off to somebody else, like your husband is doing with you and his sister. She has other options and resources but chooses not to use them. Your husband, not wanting confrontation or labeling as a bad guy, lets you carry the burden, while he gets to feel like a caregiver.
I suggest that every time she "just appears," you kindly and compassionately lead her to your husband and say, "I know you two have a lot to talk about. I'm going to give you privacy and take the kids to the (movies) (store) (park). I'll be back at dinnertime. I hope you are able to work things out."
My best guess is that after a while of his carrying the burden, he'll also want to suggest she get professional assistance and respect his need for his own time. Don't let them both take advantage of you.
Question: I am 19 years old. I live at my parents' home and have a summer job to pay for the things I want. My parents take care of school. I am aggravated that my 15-year-old brother and I have the same midnight curfew. Obviously I should be able to stay out later than he does. My mother says, "It's late enough." How can I get her to change her mind?
Dr. Laura: Although the issue for you is priority status over your younger brother, the issue for your mother is probably peace of mind knowing all her chicks are in the nest by midnight so that she can go to sleep without worry. The only way you can "call your own shots" is to completely support yourself in your own residence.
While you are benefiting from the generosity of others, in this case your parents, you have to trade off some desires out of respect and reciprocation. The midnight curfew is for your mother's convenience, not your pleasure. Respect it or move out.
Question: I'm bugged that my maid-of-honor is pregnant. She is married - that's not the problem. She's not going to look right in the dress and it's going to bring all sorts of attention to her on my day. I don't think that's right or fair. I'm thinking about asking her to step down as a bridesmaid. What do you think?
Dr. Laura: Getting married is a special covenant between you, your husband-to-be and God. You've lost your focus of the meaning of the event and are caught up in the appearances and desire to be "Queen for a Day." Get a grip.
Question: I'm 11 and my mother wants me to take a summer swim class. I don't want to because I don't like it that much. I want to do something else. Why do I have to do this class just because she wants me to?
Dr. Laura: You have to obey because she's your mother and you are to respect her wishes unless she's asking you to do something immoral or illegal. If the issue is being busy for the summer, perhaps you could approach her with an alternative plan she might find acceptable.
Question: I come from a Christian family and want to have a tattoo on my ankle. My father and mother say this is wrong and stupid to do. I think it's artistic and cool. After all, it's my body, isn't it? What is your opinion?
Dr. Laura: Actually, your body is on loan from God. Additionally, "and a tattoo shall you not place upon yourselves - I am the Lord," is straight from Leviticus 19:28. I'm with mom and dad on this one - take an art class.