Dear Amy: I recently took my two granddaughters (ages 13 and 15) to Paris for their first trip overseas.
I did not bring a phone or camera, knowing they would bring theirs.
Many pictures were taken, and I asked the oldest to send me those in which I appear. It’s the only thing I asked for. Three times.
When we returned to the States, two weeks later, the girls called me for Father’s Day. As we chatted, I again asked the eldest for the pictures.
She replied with a huff that, “I’ve got hundreds of pictures to look through to find yours.”
I don’t know whether it’s generational, or her age, but I am uncertain about how to handle this.
I could just put this onto her mother, but I prefer to correct this issue between the two of us.
Do you have any suggestions?
— Picture Poor
Dear Poor: You’ve scored a twofer: This situation is generational; the reaction is age-related.
I don’t have the space here to describe the loaded and layered relationship between teen girls and the photos they take, but picture this: Narcissus is transfixed by his own beauty. Now imagine possessing the technology to try and capture all that amazes you (and much that doesn’t), over and over, forever.
I think it’s possible that there isn’t one photo of the Eiffel Tower that doesn’t also feature one or more of the girls. They likely selfied their way through the City of Light. Are you sure they even got any photos with you in them?
You’ve asked for this three times now. Your granddaughter’s rude response is the aggressive way many immature people respond when they get caught and feel guilty about it. It’s not right, it’s not nice, and I hope you will please forgive her. She already knows that she has blown it. So now you should be patient and give her some time to dig herself out. Create a Dropbox or iCloud account online and email her an invite. But don’t mention it again.
Dear Amy: My sister found out she has cancer and is refusing treatment.
She is 74.
My 48-year-old niece lives with her and always has. She has never worked.
She has a lot of issues, mostly because my sister would not let her grow up.
Now my niece is hinting at living with me down the road (after her mother dies).
There is no way I’d ever agree to that (for many reasons), but I can’t figure out how I can make this clear to her without being totally rude.
She will latch onto whoever is available, I’m sure.
My sister has not asked me, but I’m afraid it’s coming.
Can you help?
— Not Interested
Dear Not Interested: It is not rude to tell the truth. Clarity is not rude, if it is accompanied by compassion.
You should be frank and also kind. Say to your niece, “I think it’s most important for all of us to help your mom through her illness. That’s what we need to do first. I want you to know that I won’t provide housing for you down the road, but I WILL help you in other ways. If you want some ideas for how to handle a housing issue, I’ll work with you on that.” It’s important that you emphasize that you will not abandon her, although she and her mother might interpret your statement that way. Your tone should be frank, friendly, and steadfast. Repeat, “You can do it, and I’ll help,” as many times as necessary.
Your niece might be eligible for social services, and a social worker could help her to connect with them. She will need to be assessed regarding her life skills, medical issues, etc. Her mother might be able to provide for her financially, and you would be doing them both a great service to assist them with coming up with a plan for how that might happen.
If your niece has been completely reliant on her mother her whole life, her mother’s loss will be a major loss for her. I hope you’ll take this into account, and be very patient.
Dear Amy: “Gimme a Break” was upset that her son’s friend constantly begged for snacks and toys. In your answer, you suggested that the friend should bring an extra snack for the kid. That’s just giving in to the bullying!
Dear Upset: I was suggesting a strategy for how this friend might be generous, but also create parameters around the begging.