DEAR ABBY: I spent last Thanksgiving weekend with tears streaming down my face. Both my adult daughters spent the holiday with us.
I served dinner to more than 20 people and got no help cleaning up until Friday morning when I had a meltdown and demanded some. Then my older daughter said, "Sorry," in a sarcastic tone, and my younger daughter responded with, "Anybody mind if I take a shower now?" (My husband works third shift and helps me as much as he can.)
I spent all that day loading and unloading the dishwasher, and putting things back where they belong. My daughters spent the day shopping, visiting friends and watching TV.
I have spent my life trying to make holidays special for my daughters so they would have happy childhood memories. All my hard work seems to have backfired. Instead of wanting to participate in making these memories happen, they have developed a sense of entitlement — as if I am obligated to do everything. My daughters revert to being children the minute they cross the threshold, expecting me to be their mommy, cook and maid who attends to their every need. I have spoken to them about this repeatedly. They always promise to do better, but never do until I cry.
Please print this. I know I'm not the only mother who suffers this way. Maybe your response can save us all.
— HEARTBROKEN IN MILWAUKEE
DEAR HEARTBROKEN: Don't blame your daughters. You created this monster, and it's now up to you to fix it. Inform your daughters TODAY what chores they will be expected to do when they arrive — including the preparation of some of the menu items. If the dishes don't get done, they won't be served this year.
Also, tell them what part of the cleanup they have been assigned. If your princesses don't perform, let them know that Thanksgiving will, indeed, be a "memory" because you can no longer shoulder the responsibility alone.
P.S. You should not have to burst into tears before your daughters act responsibly. If they give you any argument, schedule a lovely vacation for you and your husband next Thanksgiving. You deserve one.
DEAR ABBY: I'm concerned about my 37-year-old brother, "Ricky," who still lives at home with our mother. Ricky is good-looking, never married and has never really had a girlfriend. Our father passed away four years ago, and since then our mother has become dependent on Ricky for everything.
Neither one has any friends outside the family. I try to get my brother to come out and meet people and have some fun, but he generally declines. If he does agree to come, Mother comes with him. Please don't get me wrong. We all love and support her in every way, but this situation is unhealthy and weird. They almost act like a married couple. Please help. What should I do?
— DESPERATE SIS IN ILLINOIS
DEAR SIS: Start by having a frank talk with your brother and asking him if he likes living his life this way. There has to be a reason why a good-looking, 37-year-old man has never had a girlfriend. Maybe he doesn't want one.
After that, it's time to have a chat with your mother. I don't know how old she is, but one would think that she might like to "play" with people her own age. If she indicates any interest, then you and your siblings should encourage her to reach out. If she doesn't, then MYOB.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.