Dear Amy: My grandmother recently went into hospice care. She has suffered from dementia for the past five years, and in that time my mother has been her sole caretaker.
That (and money issues) has caused my mom and her brother to cut ties. Only my immediate family knows that my grandmother is dying.
Should I reach out to my uncle and others in the extended family (mainly my grandmother's in-laws) to let them know what's going on?
My mom argues that they weren't there for my grandmother during her decline, so why should they be called at the end?
My partner says to keep my nose out of it because it could lead to more drama. However, I can't imagine reading about your mother, grandmother or sister-in-law's death through an obit. What are your thoughts?
Amy says: These family members have the wherewithal to contact your mother by phone or e-mail, or — if rebuffed or ignored — show up to her house to find out how your grandmother is doing.
This is not about what they "deserve" to know. They seem to have completely backed away.
Your grandmother's feelings and wishes should be taken into account, however, even if her memory is gone and she is unable to express them. What would she want?
I agree with you regarding contacting family members about your grandmother's condition, but your mother should be the one to reach out. If she is hesitant, tell her you would feel better if this contact was made, and offer to take this challenge off her hands.
If your mother outright refuses, respect her wishes and understand that she is resentful, angry and grieving.
Over time, people involved in estrangements construct a protective shell around their feelings. I genuinely believe that this shell is pierced through treating others the way you wish you would be treated. Behaving with generosity, even when others don't deserve it and the outcome is in doubt, will be best for your mother, and that's why I hope she chooses to reach out.
Treat all kids equal
Dear Amy: As the mother of three young adults, I was horrified that a reader was willing to essentially tell one of her children that she doesn't see any need to try to treat them equally. She happily gave one daughter $25,000 for a wedding, but was amazed that her son would inquire as to if they would be receiving anything toward his wedding. How awful.
When our oldest married, my husband and I decided how much we could afford to give each child for their potential weddings, and told all three that they would receive that amount when they decided to marry, to be used as they saw fit (big wedding, small wedding, elopement, whatever). We did this for our son as well as our daughters.
I just can't see why anyone would monetarily punish a child for being the "wrong" gender.
There will always be times you need to spend more/do more/support more to one child over another, but in the big picture, it should all be divided as equally as you can manage.
Amy says: I agree completely. If parents can afford to (most of us cannot), they should earmark an amount (call it an "adulthood gift") to give to children, perhaps when they reach a landmark birthday. Those funds can be put toward financing a wedding, for the down payment on a house, to pay down college debt, put toward retirement, or for whatever larger purpose the child chooses.
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