DEAR ABBY: Today was my son's fourth birthday. I gave him a party. Some of the children who came were dropped off by their parents.
One of the boys started grabbing my son's gifts and opening them. But the real trouble began when my mother grabbed him by the arm and pulled him roughly away. This happened twice before my husband could make it across the room and tell Mother to stop it immediately.
I am very worried about my mother. She's 64 and seems to be losing her mind. Her displays of nervous and strange behavior are increasing. Her mother, my grandmother, was a paranoid schizophrenic, and I have often believed my mother might have some type of psychiatric condition.
How do I tell her she needs to talk to someone before this escalates further? I allow her to baby-sit my son for short stints only, and now I'm questioning any further "alone time" at all for them. She calls me constantly, insisting that she wants to see him. Is there an easy way to tell your own mother that you think she is close to "losing it"? If I'm going to gear up for the conversation, I want her to take me seriously. Thank you for your input. -- WORRIED DAUGHTER IN DENVER
DEAR DAUGHTER: No, there is no "easy way." Do you have siblings? Does your mother? Does she have any close friends who also might have noticed her bizarre behavior? If there are, talk to them and get examples.
It might be better if you and your husband approach your mother together. Tell her you are very concerned about her mental and physical health -- and give her chapter and verse about why. Then offer to go with her to her doctor for a complete physical and neurological checkup. If she refuses, remember that you have an important bargaining chip -- your son. Under no circumstances should he spend unsupervised time with his grandmother unless you are absolutely certain that it's safe for him to do so.