Dear Gabby Gayle: With all the protests regarding racism in our country, I have made a discovery: My parents are racist! I love these people and they did not raise us to be racist, but they are! I’m a widow and have been seeing a really nice Black man. Before introducing him to the folks, I tested the water and asked them a few questions like, “How do you feel about mixed marriages between Blacks and whites?” My dad went on for an hour about why that is not a good idea. I asked, “What happened to what you taught us that all are created equal?” Dad said, “They are equal, but separate.” That is a racist statement, but I did not want to argue. Can you change people you love who are in their 70s?
Dear Help: The short answer: “You can’t change them!” The long answer is three things have to happen for a person to change. 1. They have to realize they have a problem. 2. They have to want to change. 3. Then they have to do the work to change themselves. It doesn’t sound as if they know they have a problem! If it were I, I would probably tell them about this nice guy you have been dating, and you would like them to meet him, and you want to be sure they will be cordial. Sometimes, when forced to look at themselves and how much they love their daughter, people give up their unrealized prejudices and move ahead. When they get to know the person, they realize how silly they were. Or, sometimes it can go badly, and you will then have to make a choice!
Dear Gabby Gayle: I am writing about my mother, who hounds me about my overweight daughter. She says, “It is your fault she is fat. You need to put her on a diet.” We have been to counseling with her and are following their advice. My daughter doesn’t want anyone to know she is getting counseling for her weight. Our job is to make our daughter feel good about herself, and I’m afraid mom will say something to her and she will feel ashamed, which is not what we want! I’d like to tell mom to keep her mouth shut, but I know you must have a kinder way!
Dear CJ: I empathize with you. You probably know I am an advocate of people “minding their own business.” I have a rule that says, “Never give advice to your adult children unless they ask for it, and then only very carefully!” Evidently, your mom does not subscribe to that philosophy. I think you have to tell your mom, “We have a very well-thought-out plan made with her doctor, and we are following that. I would appreciate it if you help us make our daughter feel good about herself the way she is.” No guarantees. I hope it works!
Dear Gabby Gayle: I am writing about dad, who lives with us. He has very irritating habits. I love him and get so mad at myself for losing patience with him. He doesn’t like to shower and put on clean clothes. When I tell him I need to wash his clothes, he says his clothes are not dirty and he isn’t either. How do I cope with this? Any ideas?
Signed, Out of Patience
Dear Patience: When the older generation lives with the younger generation, they are bound to get on each other’s nerves. That is why when readers ask my advice about parents living with them, I usually say it often does not work well. I think you have to pick your battles. When my grandfather lived with us, my mom would steal his clothes while he was sleeping and put out the clean clothes, which he would not put on until he showered! He would grouse about it every time, but he did it. Also, old people don’t sweat as much, and most wash off every day at the sink, so they really don’t have to change clothes or shower often. Hope this helps.