Q: I have a 6-year-old son who is a very compassionate child. My husband’s mother lives with us and recently went through an illness from which she recovered. Twice my son tried to give her a necklace he had made from braided yarn to cheer her up. Abby, she not only refused to accept them, she left them on the floor as if she didn’t even want to touch them. She has no reason to dislike my son, but she just cannot appreciate the love he was demonstrating.
As Grandma is not likely to change, I wonder how to help him understand that his sweet but childish gifts are just not valuable to some people. If I say nothing, I am concerned it will hurt him more in the long run.
Personally, I love the pictures and letters and gifts he makes for me, and so does my mother, who lives far away. It makes me ache to see his compassionate gifts rejected to his face by a family member he loves. Your thoughts? — Sensitive Mom of a Sensitive Boy
A: I can only imagine how your son felt when his grandmother rejected his gifts. It appears your mother-in-law is one of those who dwells more on the price of things than on their value.
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If your son was disappointed by the woman’s reaction, he needs to know that “not everyone appreciates creative art.” But assure him that you and your mother definitely do and that they are not only welcomed, but also treasured.
Q: I have a horrible fear of death, not just my own but especially something happening to my toddler. It stresses me so badly that I have not been away from her for more than two hours in her three years. I’m terrified that something will happen and I won’t be there to help her. Because I’ve done this, she will not let me leave the room, let alone the house. Her daddy gets upset that she cries to be with me.
I lost my friend and both of my parents within a year, and my daughter was born between the deaths of Mom and Dad. Also, I had cancer as a young adult. I don’t know if this has contributed to my feelings, but I know I’m making myself crazy, and I don’t know how to deal with these thoughts and fears.
I won’t leave my child with anyone for fear that they won’t protect her like I can. How do I get over this so we can get out and function like a normal family? — Paralyzed in Kentucky
A: While it’s normal for a young child to be dependent upon his or her mother, children also need to know they can trust and depend upon their father to meet their needs. Your daughter has been deprived of this.
Because in addition to having survived a life-threatening illness you have experienced so much loss, you may need the help of a licensed psychotherapist to get over your fear. Your physician or your health insurance provider can refer you to one.
Q: A friend of mine went out to dinner, and the waitress’s fingernails were filthy. She wanted to complain to the manager, but didn’t. How should someone deal with a situation like this? — Laurie in New York
A: The appropriate solution would be to bring it to the attention of the manager of the restaurant, because what your friend described could be a health code violation.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.