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ANNIE’S MAILBOX

Her hard-working son deserves appreciation

October 15, 2011

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Q. I am one of three sisters. Our mother is 93 years old and has Alzheimer’s. For the past four years, my 44-year-old son has been her full-time caregiver. He shops, cooks, does her laundry, makes sure she takes her medications, and is up half the night helping her use the bathroom. He listens to her complaints on a regular basis. He truly loves his grandma.

My older sister is in charge of Mom’s money. A year ago, I suggested that my son be paid for his care-giving services, and she decided he was worth $250 a month. Because my son takes care of his grandmother, he cannot work full time elsewhere. This is his primary occupation. He has put his life on hold because he doesn’t want his grandmother to go into a nursing home.

I don’t live close, but I see my mother every three weeks and stay with her overnight. Neither of my sisters will spend the night, so they don’t get the whole picture in terms of what my son has to deal with. I told my sister he needs a raise, and she said, reluctantly, that she’d give him $500 a month. However, doing so has caused friction between us, and now I am not speaking to either of them. I’ll reconsider when they offer to spend a couple of nights there.

I know my son is saving Mom a lot of money because no one else in our family would do what he does. His care is worth a million dollars to me, and I love him so much for taking on this job, yet he gets no praise from either of my sisters. Am I wrong to resent them?

IN THE MIDDLE

A. Your son deserves both praise and remuneration for his care-giving. However, holding grudges and being resentful solves nothing. Make a few calls and find out how much a hired caregiver would cost in Mom’s area. Present this information to your sisters so they have a better understanding of the value of the job. They may be unwilling or unable to pay your son what he’s worth, and your son may not insist on it. But tell them they can make it up to him by being more appreciative of his contributions.

Q. I am horrified watching young parents today raise their kids. When I raised my children, I fixed a meal and everybody ate it. Today, it’s short order for each child. When I set a bedtime, the children said “good night,’’ brushed their teeth, and went to bed. Today, children negotiate their bedtimes and often retire as late as their parents. When I organized an activity, everybody went. Today, if the kids don’t want to participate, it changes the routine for everyone. The kids think they are in charge, and they are.

Please, parents, set some good examples, draw the lines, make rules, and stick to them. I say this for the benefit of our children. They are getting the wrong ideas about how the world works. If parents don’t wise up, these kids will be unfit to enter adulthood.

CONCERNED GRANDMA

A. Thank you. Nothing speaks with more authority than the voice of experience.

NEW YORK

Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.