DEAR ABBY: I love my mother and she says she loves me, but she can be quite difficult. A visit seldom goes by without her getting in at least a few hurtful zingers. There's always something about me that doesn't suit her. She says tactless things she would never dream of saying to anyone else. Telephone conversations don't include comments about my weight and appearance, because, thank goodness, she can't see me. However, she fills the space with advice and lectures.
Visits with Mother drain me. It often takes several days for me to get over being depressed and cranky. My solution is to avoid her.
Mother wants me to visit more often. I would like to accommodate her, and I go as frequently as my bruised psyche can tolerate, and that's it. I prefer the company of friends who accept and appreciate me just as I am. It breaks my heart to have to protect myself from my own mother.
Abby, please tell parents that if they yearn for the company of their adult children to do their part to make the visits mutually pleasant. Set aside parental instincts and treat your offspring with the respect and courtesy due the adult that your child has become. -- EMOTIONALLY BRUISED
DEAR BRUISED: Your problem won't be resolved until you're strong enough to confront your mother and tell her how her criticism has made you feel. Do not approach her in anger. Before you visit, make a list of the comments that hurt you, and tell her how they make you feel. Rehearse what you're going to say until you feel comfortable with it. Then tell her plainly how you expect to be treated in the future.
DEAR ABBY: I must disagree with some of the advice you gave to "Sleepless in Missouri," the woman whose fiance's sister stole an expensive painting and her grandmother's china. You stated that the sister may be suffering from kleptomania, a persistent neurotic impulse to steal, especially without economic motive.
Abby, kleptomania is a rare disorder. People who suffer from it usually steal small, inexpensive items that they have no use for. They usually feel extremely remorseful for what they have done, and frequently either return the items or give them away.
More than likely, the sister of "Sleepless'" fiance is suffering from a sense of entitlement. Since she brazenly displays the stolen items, she seems to feel no qualms about what she has done. She may rationalize it was acceptable to steal the items because "Sleepless" was not using them. Also, she may have thought she wouldn't get caught, or the items would not be missed since they were left in storage.
"Sleepless" should confront her fiance and his sister about the stolen items and be prepared to press charges.
I am as troubled as you, Abby, that her fiance condones his sister's stealing, especially from someone he supposedly loves. I endorse your advice to "Sleepless" to think twice before entering into that marriage. -- SUSAN J. ULLMAN, DIRECTOR OF THEFT TREATMENT PROGRAM, CLERMONT COUNSELING CENTER, BATAVIA, OHIO
DEAR SUSAN: I bow to your expertise. Your advice supports what many readers wrote. They said I was too easy on both the thief and her brother, who brushed off his sister's wrongdoing.
To "Sleepless," I amend my advice to include giving serious consideration to filing charges.
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