Dear Annie: I will admit that I am a controlling daughter-in-law. I suffered childhood abuse of many kinds and am deeply reluctant to trust others with my children, particularly men.
My father-in-law sets off my alarm bells in a bad way. He is not appropriate with women and children.
I could list all the warnings I have been told and heard about him. He and his eighth wife (!) are just desperate to be grandparents, and there is no way in hell I would leave them alone with my children.
My husband agrees with me when they are not around, but once his father arrives, he is a totally changed person. Fortunately, we live in a different state from his father. Just thought you might want to know the perspective of a “bad” daughter-in-law. — Another Controlling Daughter-in-Law
Dear Daughter-in-Law: Don’t confuse being a controlling daughter-in-law with being a protective one. You sense a real danger from your father-in-law, and your instinct is to protect your children. Good for you!
Being a protective mother when you sense real danger to your child is not being controlling at all. It is being loving and nurturing. It sounds like your father-in-law has not earned the right to be around children, and you are just looking out for your children.
Dear Annie: I’d like to tell you about a wonderful interaction with someone who had Alzheimer’s. It involves my mother, whose senility grew to be so severe that, during her last five years, she even lost the ability to talk. I took time out of my marriage and flew to Florida to help my father take care of her. She had been my best friend growing up and an amazing mother.
Three years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, my husband needed open heart surgery, so I brought my parents back home. For those five years my mother did not recognize either my father or me. But the way her face lit up every time we walked in was such a gift. She had played the piano, and music was in her soul. Day and night, she hummed and tapped the rhythm on her chest.
She was truly adorable, and my siblings and children had the chance to experience her joy in every way. Taking care of her together helped to repair a troubled relationship I had always had with my father, and we became best friends. That was another gift she gave me.
My husband was so supportive the entire time. I will never forget that he made sure I always had enough money to help with their bills. All three are gone now, and I would give anything to have just one more chance to be with them. To hear that humming whenever I wake at night.
My husband experienced some confusion at times near the end, but he responded to stories of those days. They were special to us. Alzheimer’s, senility and any confusion don’t mean the end of time with those we love. It just changes it a bit. — Just Changes
Dear Changes: I am very sorry for your losses but overjoyed by the beauty in which you lived during severely challenging times. What a large heart you have and a wonderful perspective on tough situations. Thank you for sharing such a heartwarming and loving story.
— “How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.