Dear Alma, I know this may sound mean, but I can’t stand my sister’s son. He’s 3 years old and he talks back and never listens to what I tell him to do. He comes to my house and breaks up my stuff, and she just sits there like nothing is happening. She doesn’t even say stop. When I try to correct him, she says, “Don’t talk to my son like that.” No, I don’t have any kids, but I have friends who have kids, and they are not as bad as he is. I don’t want her to bring him to my house anymore. What do you think?—Angie, Baltimore
Omgoodness Angie, you’ve got me scrolaurin! (Screaming, laughing and hollering all at the same time) Come on, Auntie; he’s only 3. You can’t be hatin’ on him like that. I’m ready to revoke your “Auntie” card. Don’t you know we aunties are the best thing next to moms. My nephew Corey and I have such a special relationship. I can’t wait for you to have this experience.
Honestly, I think you are barking up the wrong tree. What’s up with your sister? You should be putting her on blast. Why isn’t she correcting and teaching her son? That’s her responsibility. Somewhere along the way we evolved into this “mama-is-your-friend” revolution. I can remember, back in the day, my mama didn’t want to be my friend. How do I know? She told me so, LOL. If I showed out, she would discipline me and not have a second thought about it.
Let me clarify: I didn’t get whoopins, but I was aware of them. I had a clear understanding that she was in charge. Her look, voice and firm tone let me know she was not to be challenged. Carol, my mother, (God rest her soul) could talk, teeth clenched tight, only her lips moving, and you understood every word she said. LOL. Old skool Mamas are the best!
Look, future favorite Auntie of his: Instead of cutting him off, try a new approach—help him.
Give your sister a copy of “Ain’t Misbehavin: Tactics for Tantrums, Meltdown, Bedtime Blues and Other Perfectly Normal Kid Behaviors” by Alyson Schafer. She’s authored a few great books on motherhood. Also suggest that she goes online and check out some new mom blogs. Maybe she’s overwhelmed and unsure where to start. Don’t give up on him from the start.
Give him a roadmap to becoming the best that he can be. He’ll strive to make you proud.—Alma
Missing my husband and best friend
Dear Alma, My husband was killed in a car accident. We were high school sweethearts and married more than 30 years. I would say we were very happy and secure. We were also best friends. I was so heartbroken at my husband’s death that I decided on a closed casket. His family wanted an open casket. I agreed to open during the viewing and closed at the start of the funeral. The decision was a comfort to his mother. During the visitation, his administrative assistant cried so loud and hard that all eyes were on her. When she went by to pay her last respects, she leaned over and kissed my husband. I think that was totally disrespectful. It’s been three months, and I want to contact her to find out what exactly was going on between her and my husband. What do you think?—B.M., Texas
Dear B.M., please accept my condolences. The death of a loved one affects your mind, heart and the core of your existence. When life takes you down this path, some days your heart literally aches from the pain and sorrow. You’ll feel a variety of emotions; that’s a part of the grieving process. It’s understandable if you feel guilt, angry, confusion and fear all at the same time. This may become your new normal. That’s ok; it will take a great deal of courage and strength to labor through this tragedy.
Now, to answer your question: I think it’s important that you take time to recognize the different emotions you face. Remember, it isn’t necessary to react to every action. It seems to me that while still centered in grief, you’ve become consumed by something perceived in your fragile state of mind. It’s not necessary for you to contact your husband’s AA and chastise her for grieving his death. She scheduled and planned his days, every weekday. A few of her responsibilities were to anticipate his professional needs and assemble information that allowed your husband to be the accomplished man in charge that he was. This doesn’t mean that they had some type of physical relationship. He could have been a great mentor to her, looked up to and admired.
(Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and twitter @almaaskalma.)
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