Q. In January, I had an unfortunate accident that resulted in a broken foot and surgery on one ankle. I was in the hospital for four days and in a rehab facility for another month.
My husband visited every day, and my 93-year-old father called frequently. I also heard from a sister-in-law, a niece, two neighbors, and three out-of-state friends. However, you’d think with all the people I know, some of them would have made an effort to contact me. Since returning home, I’ve received exactly one Facebook message asking how I’m doing. What hurts the most is that my sister has neither called nor come by.
I want to tell my sister how I feel, but my husband says to forget about it. I am still undergoing physical therapy, and my husband, who has his own limitations, has to lift a wheelchair out of the trunk every time he takes me anywhere. He does all of the household errands and grocery shopping, as well as emptying my bedpan. No one offers to help either of us.
I am so full of anger that it is affecting my emotional recovery. What should I do?
A. We agree that your sister is being unsupportive, but you are not “alone.” Focus on those who are in touch and helpful — your husband, your father, your sister-in-law, niece, neighbors, and out-of-state friends. That’s more than many people have. And some folks have no idea that you want help or what you need unless you tell them. Post recovery updates on your Facebook page, and say how much you appreciate any words of encouragement. Call your sister and ask (nicely) whether she could pick up some groceries for you. We hope, when given a specific opportunity to step up to the plate, she will come through.
Q. I read with great interest the letter from “Stepmom,” whose husband was irked that she expected his two teenage daughters to help pay for expensive new jackets that they wanted after Christmas.
We raised four children on a modest income. There were a lot of requests for us to buy things for them. I often used the same tactic. Not only did it tell me whether they wanted the item enough to pay half, but they also took better care of those things they had a financial investment in.
There were times when my teenage kids did things that left me baffled as to how to punish them. I would send them to their room with instructions to think about what they’d done and what they thought their punishment should be. They usually selected something much worse than I would have. The beauty in this method? They took the punishment without arguing and felt it was fair. They have grown into wonderful adults, and I’m so proud of them.