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Ask Lisi: Three siblings should work together to support elderly mom

Advice: Get together and make a schedule of visits. If you work together, you’ll be able to help your mom through this next phase in her life.

Dear Lisi: My mom lives in a small town two hours away from both me and my two siblings. Our father died years ago. As is normal, she’s ageing and can’t do all the things she used to do. Case in point, she can’t drive two hours on the highway. Which means we have to take the lead when it comes to seeing her.

All three of us are married, all work, and we all have kids who keep us busy. Weeks will pass when one of us, almost always me, will realize we need to see mom. I’ll reach out to the other two, but they’ll both say, “Well you remembered, so you go.”

I love my mom and have no problem seeing her, I just don’t feel the responsibility is being shared equally.

Single Sib

You’re right. It’s not. You didn’t mention your sibling placement, but that might be interesting to note. I don’t know anything about your siblings, but it’s never easy to watch a parent age. This might be harder on them emotionally. Or they might be more preoccupied in their own life at the moment.

I suggest you talk to your mom alone, first. Ask her what she would like, as far as visiting you guys in your city (maybe one weekend a month sleepover?); and how often she would like someone to come to her (every other week for a day or two?). Then go home and have a meeting with your siblings and their spouses. Everyone needs to be involved.

Discuss what arrangements your mom is interested in, and then make a schedule. People can always switch shifts, things always come up, but if you work together, as six mature adults, you’ll be able to help your mom through this next phase in her life.

Dear Lisi: I love my husband but he’s boring. I see people’s eyes glaze over when he starts talking. He has a decently interesting job, but when he talks about it, he loses people’s attention.

I think it’s down to his soft-spoken mannerisms and the low volume of his voice. I’m used to him, so I’m used to the way he talks. But especially at a party or get-together, when there are a lot of other people talking, it’s hard to focus on him.

He’s also not very animated or expressive. It sounds like I’m putting him down, but I’m not. That’s just who he is. I think he knows he’s boring because he’s often deflated at the end of a night out.

How can I help him?

Boring Husband

Some people are just soft-spoken and don’t do well in crowds. If they have enough self-awareness, they know this about themselves and seek other ways to interact with friends. But there are times when they’ll find themselves in large groups.

There are organizations, like Toastmasters, that teach people how to be better public speakers, and improve their communication skills. And of course, you can always hire a coach one-on-one.

FEEDBACK regarding the grumpy teen (March 14):

Reader – “With regard to this young girl: it’s possible, even likely, that she will improve as she gets older. However, as an older mother — my son is 40 — I believe many parents make the mistake of not insisting on respect and consideration from their children from a very early age.

“By the teen years it may be too late. This insistence on consideration can be done with gentleness and without harshness and must, of course, be reciprocal.

“This worked for me. I hope this might help parents of young children.”

Dear Lisi: I met a woman while out walking my dog. She’s absolutely beautiful with a warm, inviting smile. I’ve seen her a few times, and she’s smiled at me each time. I’d love to get to know her better, but I don’t know anything about her. For all I know she could be married with children.

I don’t want to make a fool of myself. What do I do?


You smile back. Stop and say hello. Ask about her dog. How old is it? What breed is it? Ask if she knows any good trails or dog parks nearby…. and then let the conversation flow.

If you’re just out for a walk, you could ask her what direction she’s going and if you could walk together. But don’t be pushy or creepy. She’ll let you know right away if she’s interested, or just being smiley.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: [email protected] or [email protected]