My family often celebrates birthdays and holidays in restaurants. We can number 20 - elderly parents, my siblings, their spouses and children - although usually much less.
My mother treats wait staff horrendously. There’ve been countless scenes as she’s complained to wait staff and management over things large or small.
Her behaviour seems particularly cruel to the servers, whose responses range from confusion and apologies, to physically shaking and even crying.
Although my parents are good people, verbal abuse was a staple of our home growing up, so this behaviour doesn’t come out of nowhere.
She’s been occasionally told by family members that her behaviour’s rude, but she insists she does nothing wrong.
I’ve told her that she shouldn’t speak to people this way. She dismisses anything I say outright, but on many occasions I’m the target of her wrath.
My father says she also behaves this way when out for dinner with friends.
She’ll often feel justified because family members will agree with her about an issue. The soup may indeed be too salty, but the way she seeks help is offensive.
If I stop going along, I just deny myself the rest of my family's company.
Someone needs to take charge, and you seem to have the sense and sensitivity to do so.
The moment you hear a negative comment, stand up, say (kindly but firmly), “I’ll handle this, Mom,” and seek the manager yourself.
She may protest. Ignore her. Once standing, you’ve seized the power from her seated position. And more so, when you walk away to get help.
Tell your father that when it happens again, he should calm her while you take care of things.
He may even follow your example when they’re out with friends.
I’ve travelled to another city specifically to welcome the birth of my first grandchild. She/he may’ve even been born already…
I love my daughters and did my best to raise them. I always felt I’d given much more than I had.
There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them whether they love me or not.
But this is too painful as I conclude that my daughter doesn’t want me in her life, or that of my grandchild.
I’m staying near them in a lovely Bed and Breakfast, expecting that I’d be able to at least glimpse my grandchild and have assurance that my daughter’s okay.
Maybe I have to admit she doesn’t love or care for me.
In a Zillion Pieces
This is a sad situation that obviously has a history. Somewhere in this relationship, things have been said and done that remain hurtful and alienating.
You both have your own beliefs about what really happened.
But a baby’s arrival can inspire a new start – your daughter may come to understand parent-child relationships better, and you may gain new insight into what went wrong.
Focus on the baby and the future, not on yourself and the past.
If you’ve been specifically told to stay away, just send a note along with a gift for the baby.
But if there’s not been a specified no-contact order, you could also send a note saying that you’d love to see the baby and would meet her anywhere for that chance.
Whatever happens right now, proceed slowly and patiently – cards for the baby’s special occasions, birthdays, holidays, etc.
Stay hopeful, but don’t push. Let your daughter know that you’ll be there with love and support if it’s ever a possibility between you.
FEEDBACK Regarding the graduate student who’s pursuing his classmate (August 31):
Reader – “He needs a wake-up call on the appropriate way of interacting with a woman.
“He sounded more like he’s a stalker than just seeking dating advice: “Though she ignores me online, in person she actually notices me — either during my conversations with others or just when I’m around. Sometimes she sits close to me.”
“Why would he assume that where she sits has anything do with him, and not just a convenient, available seat in class?
“He knows she’s in a long-term relationship, which makes his interest even more inappropriate.
“He lacks basic understanding that women don’t have to like him just because he wants them to.”
Ellie – Good points, which other readers also noted. I did respond that any connection was in his imagination, that his staring was “creepy,” to only attempt one conversation, but back off if she’s uninterested.
Tip of the day:
Do not let one outspoken relative hold your family hostage to rudeness.