DEAR ABBY: My youngest son, "Quinn," is 13 and has one of the most tender hearts I've ever seen. He can't stand to see anyone be hurt or left out. My husband died when Quinn was 18 months old. Quinn will make someone a wonderful husband one day. I know, because he displays these traits already.
I recently had major surgery. Quinn was the one who took care of me when I got out of the hospital. It wasn't because I asked him to, but because he wanted to. He didn't miss a day of school, but the minute he got home he was right there to see what I needed.
We spend a lot of time with our church family, and they love him, as do all his friends in the youth group. They invite him to hang out with them and think he's a great kid.
My problem is that my mother and siblings dislike my son. They think he's lazy because he's overweight, and they say he has no personality. They never liked his father and accused him of being "controlling." They think Quinn is the same way. It started when he was a baby. They complained he was "too clingy" and a "crybaby." How can a grandmother shower so much love on all her grandchildren except one?
My son is neither stupid nor insensitive. He's aware of how the family feels. That's why I have decided to keep him away from family events. I no longer attend, either. The last time I was at my parents' house I got so upset that when Mother left the room, I removed Quinn's pictures from the collage on the fridge and took them home. They don't love him -- why should he be there? As I suspected, they haven't even noticed, or they just don't care.
I'm considering moving to get away from these people before they do any more damage. Talking to them is futile. Am I being petty? What would you do? Your advice would be appreciated. -- QUINN'S MOM IN OREGON
DEAR MOM: Are you being petty? Removing the photographs was petty. Should you move? That would be overreacting to an unpleasant situation -- particularly in light of the fact that you and your son have an excellent support system in your "church family." And, in a sense, because Quinn's father is deceased and you are all he has, he needs that outside support. The young man appears to have shouldered a great deal of responsibility for someone so young.
Moving away is not the answer. Keeping some distance from your family would be a better idea. Nutritional counseling for Quinn, along with professional counseling for you to help you deal with your anger, would also be helpful. I suspect there are issues in your relationship with your mother and siblings that need to be examined. Deal with those and your problems will be resolved.