Life Advice



Handling Elderly Relative's Constant Interruptions

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: I have an elderly family member who constantly interrupts me. Not only does she interrupt when I'm talking to her, but she eavesdrops on my conversations with others and interrupts those, too. She has been doing this for decades, so I highly doubt it's related to age. It's extremely rude, and I've tried to kindly tell her many times. She doesn't think that it's wrong to behave this way -- says it's just part of having a conversation and continues to interrupt me.

I've recently limited my time around her because of this, and now she is offended by that. I would rather avoid her as much as possible than continue to deal with her lack of manners. She sees me as the "bad guy" now, still continues to interrupt and thinks she has done nothing wrong. I love her, but I can't deal with it anymore. Help! -- Constantly Interrupted

Dear Constantly Interrupted: Since direct conversation hasn't led to any change, it might be helpful to adjust. When she interrupts, reassert your boundaries by saying something like, "I was still finishing my thought. Please let me finish." Consistency is key here. It sends a clear message that you expect your boundaries to be respected.

Additionally, consider involving other family members in a gentle way. Sometimes, having the same message echoed by several people can help the person see that their behavior is more than just a minor irritation.

Dear Annie: A dear friend's daughter was married last year, and we selected a beautiful wedding gift. After six months, I inquired of her mother if the gift was received. She said others have been asking the same; the new husband did not like how the bride wrote the thank-you notes, and they were never sent. Now a baby is coming. I am cringing when I look at the mail. Is a shower invitation on its way? More gifts? I feel used. What should I do? -- Hesitant


Dear Hesitant: It sounds like you're feeling preemptively stressed over a situation that hasn't yet occurred. Try to focus on the present. If you do receive an invitation, just remember that gifts are an expression of your goodwill, not a requirement. If the lack of a thank-you note still stings and affects your willingness to contribute further, it's OK to politely decline the invitation.


"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 for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




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