DEAR CONCERNED: How messy? If it is clutter (not hoarding), leave it alone. A messy house is no reason to create ill will with your daughter. Not everyone’s standards of cleanliness will be up to yours, and while they may not want company, it is not dangerous. However, if there is old food getting moldy on the carpet, bugs crawling all over the floor and rats in the closets, it is a health hazard to the children and should be reported.
We suggest you tell them that you understand how terribly busy they are and ask whether you can gift them with a professional cleaning service as your birthday, anniversary and Christmas presents. (Feel free to add Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Labor Day if you can afford it.) Don’t make negative remarks about their lack of housekeeping skills. If they refuse your kind offer, invite the kids over more often and leave the rest alone.
DEAR ANNIE: You’ve printed a few letters about parents who are estranged from their kids. I have not spoken to my mother in years. She is a meddler and a self-centered person who is more interested in her image than in what’s right.
Years ago, I went through a nasty divorce, and Mom sided with my ex-wife in court. When the truth came out, I was given full custody of my son. My mother never showed remorse for her actions or even said so much as “I’m sorry.” My son is now 18, and she has never tried to contact him. I have learned not to let her hurt or control me. I am OK with my life the way it is. — Better Off Without
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column.