DEAR ABBY: My 87-year-old mother is narcissistic, self-absorbed and extremely cruel. When she says something or acts out, she'll say, "I am who I am, so don't expect me to change."
How can my sister and I deal with the needs of an elderly parent who continues to verbally and emotionally mistreat us and others? My sister is beginning to react in a defensive, angry manner (rightfully so), and all I do is cry and feel guilty for wanting to get away from her.
- Wit's End in Loma Linda, Calif.
DEAR WIT'S END: Because your mother is behaving the way she always has, her unpleasantness can't be blamed on old age. The next time she acts out and tells you, "I am who I am, so don't expect me to change," respond by saying: "That's right. You are who you are, but I don't have to subject myself to this. If it happens again, I'm out of here." Then follow through.
If that doesn't discourage her unpleasant behavior, consider hiring a social worker or licensed caregiver. That's not abandonment; it's self-defense.
DEAR ABBY: I recently came out to my family as transgender (male to female). However, they still call me "gay." I have told them repeatedly that "transgender" and "gay" are not the same, but they won't listen. They accept and love me "as I am," and I'm grateful for that. But I need them to accept me - the real me - as I am in my heart.
It hurts when my parents keep calling me "gay" and their "son." Please help me, Abby.
- Girl Needing Advice
DEAR GIRL: Your parents do not appear to fully grasp that gender identity and sexual orientation are different things.
A terrific educational resource for them would be PFLAG. It's an organization made up of parents, families, friends and straight allies united with gay, bisexual and transgender people. Part of their mission is education, and there are chapters in all 50 states. Contact them at www.pflag.org. Their literature will help your parents understand.