Life Advice



Granddad is stymied, asking for Paris pics

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

My sister has not asked me, but I'm afraid it's coming.

Can you help?

-- Not Interested

Dear Not Interested: It is not rude to tell the truth. Clarity is not rude, if it is accompanied by compassion.

You should be frank and also kind. Say to your niece, "I think it's most important for all of us to help your mom through her illness. That's what we need to do first. I want you to know that I won't provide housing for you down the road, but I WILL help you in other ways. If you want some ideas for how to handle a housing issue, I'll work with you on that." It's important that you emphasize that you will not abandon her, although she and her mother might interpret your statement that way. Your tone should be frank, friendly, and steadfast. Repeat, "You can do it, and I'll help," as many times as necessary.

Your niece might be eligible for social services, and a social worker could help her to connect with them. She will need to be assessed regarding her life skills, medical issues, etc. Her mother might be able to provide for her financially, and you would be doing them both a great service to assist them with coming up with a plan for how that might happen.


If your niece has been completely reliant on her mother her whole life, her mother's loss will be a major loss for her. I hope you'll take this into account, and be very patient.

Dear Amy: "Gimme a Break" was upset that her son's friend constantly begged for snacks and toys. In your answer, you suggested that the friend should bring an extra snack for the kid. That's just giving in to the bullying!

-- Upset

Dear Upset: I was suggesting a strategy for how this friend might be generous, but also create parameters around the begging.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)



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