Dear Ann Cannon • My mother is hurt and even a little angry that I haven’t shared the latest details with her about our son’s battle with mental illness. She found out about what’s going on from my sister, who just assumed Mom would know what’s happening.
I know my mother means well and I feel bad that she’s upset, but the problem is that whenever I try to talk to her about stuff like this, she immediately goes into “stand-back-because-we’re-gonna-fix-this-right-now” mode, which is exhausting, especially since I am already exhausted. Besides, she can’t really suggest anything that we haven’t already tried or that we’re currently doing for our son. I just need her to listen, you know? How do I get her to just listen?
— Daughter Who’s in Dutch with Her Mother
Dear Daughter • How do you get your mother to just listen? Tell her (kindly) what you’ve told me here. Let her know you’re much more likely to keep her in the loop if she doesn’t immediately rush in and try to fix things.
I’m full of sympathy for you AND your mother, actually, which brings me to the following observation: People try to fix other people’s problems because they love them and can’t stand to see them suffer. And let’s be totally honest here. When your people suffer, YOU SUFFER, TOO, which only adds to the desire to fix whatever is wrong. But here’s the thing. Unless they specifically ask for advice, most people just want you to lend them a sympathetic ear.
Good luck. Sending you and your family love during a clearly challenging time.
Dear Ann Cannon • We’re trying to sell our house but, unfortunately, we haven’t had a lot of success. I’m wondering if one of the reasons is that the house next door to ours is a rental that’s basically owned by a slum lord who never cuts the grass or makes much-needed repairs. We’ve tried to talk to him but he doesn’t get back to us. Suggestions about how to handle this situation would be welcome.
— Unhappy Homeowner
Dear Unhappy • I ran your question past a friend of mine who’s a very successful real estate agent here in Salt Lake City. She confirmed your suspicion that an unkempt property next door can interfere with the sale of your home. If the landlord doesn’t respond to your calls, you have every right to contact your city’s zoning enforcement division and lodge a formal complaint. The city will send someone out to examine the property and (if warranted) issue a citation to the owner. Fines may be applicable if the owner doesn’t comply with the city’s directives.
MEMO TO LANDLORDS: Dudes. Do unto your rental property as you would have your neighbors do unto your personal property.
Dear Ann Cannon • The letter about a son’s frustration with his mother’s not responding to texts resonated with me. As a mother of about the same age with adult children and families living a few states away, I identify with the mom.
Our children live busy lives — and texting is a speedy way to communicate with family and peers. That being said, however, does the son mentioned in the letter stop to realize that his mother loves him and longs just to hear his voice once in a while? Our telephone conversations with our adult children bring joy to us — and remind us how much we miss hearing their voices when they have left the nest and made their own families.
A text is fine, on occasion, an email even better — but, oh, to hear our children speak? Music to our ears! Thanks for letting me sound off.
— Mom Who Misses Hearing from Her Children