DEAR HARRIETTE: I am disappointed that my family did not get me a card or anything for Mother’s Day. I am married with two children who are 9 and 12. I can see how the children might not think of it, though I always remember their birthdays and every other special day you can imagine. But my husband did not think to get a card for them or a present or anything. They didn’t offer to take me to dinner, so I ended up cooking. It hurt my feelings. Usually I organize everything, but I am tired of having to be the coordinator, even for what should be my celebration. How can I get them to understand that? -- Snubbed, Denver
DEAR SNUBBED: You have to train your family to take care of you the way that you would prefer. If you have organized everything for Mother’s Day and other special days every year before now, there is no reason that your family should have thought that things would be different this time. Their expectation, unless you told them otherwise, was that you would come up with a plan that they would follow.
Tell your husband and children that you are disappointed that they didn’t do anything special for you for Mother’s Day. Admit that you usually handle such things, but you were hoping they would take some initiative and think of something on their own. Do not guilt them. Instead, you can tell your husband that you think it’s important for the children to learn how to celebrate you and all of the other special occasions. Ask him to help you teach them how to do that in the ways that you value.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I came home to the sound of my neighbors screaming their heads off in the hallway. The mother was cursing and hollering, and her adult daughter was videotaping her mother as they both yelled and kicked and cursed. It was distressing, to say the least, and I wasn’t sure what to do. Later, the mother called me to apologize for letting me see it, but then she spent 20 minutes rehashing everything the daughter had done to offend her. I have found myself hostage to this woman’s drama almost daily for the past few weeks. While I feel sorry for her, I see that I cannot be of help. How can I extricate myself from it, given that we are neighbors? -- In the Middle, Bronx, New York
DEAR IN THE MIDDLE: You must put your foot down. Tell your neighbor that you are terribly sorry that she is having such difficulty with her daughter and that you will pray for calmer times. Add that you realize that you do not have the skills to help her through this predicament, and it makes you uncomfortable trying to do so. Tell your neighbor that you want her to have a healthy, safe household, but you cannot help her get there. Recommend that she call the police if things continue to escalate.
When she calls you to talk about the blow-by-blow of what is going on, interrupt her and say that you cannot talk at that moment. Then end the conversation. If she continues, tell her that you do not want to talk about her problems, but that you continue to wish her well.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)