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.