Dear Annie: My younger sister and I are young adults currently living with our grandpar-ents to ease the commute to school and work. We spent most of our elemen-tary and middle school years at our grandpar-ents’ house after school, over the summer or when we were sick. Our moth-er works near their house as well, and she stops by every couple of weeks to check up on them.
The problem is Grand-ma’s outlook. We try our best, but she always finds something wrong with us. If we clean the bathroom, we didn’t do it right. We either don’t eat her food or we eat too much of it. She has become less pleasant to be around and we don’t know how to tell her that her yelling and complaints are the rea-son.
Our grandfather pre-fers to stay out of Grand-ma’s way when she berates us, unless he thinks we are being disrespectful and talking back. What’s the most hurtful is that she blames our mistakes on Mother, saying that it is her poor parenting that has resulted in the elec-tric bill going up $20 and the dryer breaking.
We love our grand-mother, but she has become so difficult. I cannot remember the last time she praised us or asked about our day. My sister avoids her by staying out of the house, which results in com-plaints from Grandma that she’s never home.
I’m tired of this. I don’t want to come across as an ungrateful grandchild, so how do I get the negativ-ity to stop? -- Teary-Eyed and Frustrated
Dear Teary: First of all, please consider the bur-den you are placing on Grandma. She loves you and wants to help you. But you also require effort and money, both of which may be more complicat-ed today than when you were younger. She, too, is stuck, but her way of expressing that conflito complain a lot. It is not uncommon for some folks to focus on the negative without realizing how they come across, and this can get worse with age.
We assume you are doing your part to clean up after yourselves and help with meals, laun-dry and housework. So sit down with Grandma when it’s quiet and chores are done. Tell her sweetly that you love her and don’t mean to make her life dif-ficult, but the constant complaints are wearing you down and she sure-ly doesn’t intend to be so unpleasant. Ask how you can make her day easi-er. If she still complains, turn a deaf ear, and when it becomes possible, find a place of your own.