Dear Ann Cannon • I’m in a position in life where my dear friends are rendering a lot of service and kindnesses. It’s always been SO much easier for me to give than to receive, but I don’t want to appear ungrateful. How can I reciprocate when my circumstances don’t really allow “in kind” return? Just saying “thank you” seems so inadequate. It’s very disheartening.
— Don’t Know What to Do
Dear Don’t Know • Your letter makes me think of a close friend of mine. She’s extremely competent in every way. She’s also a born nurturer — always the first person there to help someone else. Her husband was diagnosed with cancer four years ago and, in a cruel twist of fate, she’s recently been diagnosed with cancer herself.
Because she’s been so good to others, the people in my friend’s life have been eager to repay her for her years of unselfish service. While she appreciates their efforts, it’s been difficult for her to accept their help. But here’s the deal. No one expects my friend to dart up and down the street with casseroles or to chair a worthy fundraiser or to babysit the neighbor’s kids right now, and they don’t expect that from you either. Trust me: Your people want to help you. Helping you makes them feel better about your situation.
Bottom line? Thanking your friends for showering you with love is all they require in return. Truly.
Wishing you all the best during this difficult time.
Dear Ann Cannon • I’ve been spending a lot of time with my university-aged granddaughter. She’s an absolute delight and very kind to me. However, I don’t like her music, her fashion sense, choice of food, etc. I’m sure she’s tired of me telling her “when I was your age,” and I do want to connect in her world. How do I retrain myself and my personal preference to appreciate what her world is like?
Dear Grandma • I think it’s awesome that you have such a nice relationship with your granddaughter. I hope I have the same kind of relationship with my own granddaughters when they’re older. Well done, you!
Honestly, I think it’s OK if you’re not a fan of her taste right now. Your grandmother probably wasn’t a fan of your taste in music and fashion when you were a teenager either, right? Don’t worry about connecting with her world. Just keep connecting with the person she is. And if you do say something about her world, do it with humor and kindness.
Meanwhile, feel free to keep telling her what things were like back in your day. Your comments may make her roll eyes for now, but trust me: There will come a time when she’ll remember your stories with a great deal of fondness.
Dear Ann Cannon • What do you do with adult siblings who treat your house like it’s their own? Mine walk in without knocking, eat all my food, use my washing machine without asking, etc. Any suggestions?
Dear Exasperated • Oh, families! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — if it weren’t for families, I wouldn’t have anything to write about. Here’s something else I’ve said before — you have options, including the following:
- You can put up with your siblings’ behavior and decide not to resent it. C’est la vie is what I’m saying.
- You can put up with your siblings’ behavior while hanging on to your resentment, which (in my experience) will eventually lead to an explosive Come-to-Jesus meeting because all that resentment has finally bubbled up and boiled over.
- You can have that Come-to-Jesus meeting now while you’re calm and in control of your emotions. Kindly explain that while you love them and are (mostly) happy to share with them, you’d appreciate it if your siblings showed you, your time and your property a little respect. Boundaries make for healthy family relationships.
I hope this helps.