Tendency to preach causes problems

Dear Annie: I am the single mother of a 13-year-old boy. "Aaron" loves to visit his grandparents, but his grandma -- my mother -- is causing problems.
Mom is highly active in her church, and she tries to push her beliefs on others. I am happy that she has found something she feels so strongly about, but my husband and I do not share her beliefs, and I don't appreciate her thoughts being shoved down our throats. I especially resent her trying to influence my son.
Aaron was at his grandparents' house recently when mention of race, premarital sex and religion came up. My son doesn't want to be disrespectful, but when he tells her politely that he doesn't want to discuss these things, my mother puts a heavy guilt trip on him. She takes him into the spare room and preaches to him for half an hour at a time with the Bible open.
We have recently moved farther away, in order to put some distance between us, although I don't want my son to lose out on a relationship with my parents. I have tried speaking to my mother about her behavior and asking her to stop. This works for a few months, but then she starts all over again.
Mom is a wonderful person, and these are the only grandparents Aaron has, but she needs to understand that it's OK for him to have beliefs that don't match hers. How can I make this better? Daunted Daughter in Ohio
Dear Daunted: Your mother is convinced she has a duty to impart her interpretation of the Bible, but your son's religious upbringing is up to you, not her. Teenagers can be particularly susceptible to religious influence. Make it clear to Mom that Aaron will not be visiting her alone if she keeps preaching -- and mean it.
Dear Annie: I have been good friends with "Mary" for five years. Two years ago, I met "Barb" and invited her to several different social activities. Barb was not particularly social until she met me.
Within the last year, Barb and Mary have become very close friends and do not include me in their invitations. When I see them, they are polite, but no more. I am very upset and hurt by this. I sent Barb a card, asking her if I did something to offend her, but she never responded.
Should I approach Mary? All our mutual friends have noticed a change in both of them. We are not teenagers. We all are married with grown children. I really care for both of these women and am Hurting in Oregon
Dear Hurting: You may not be teenagers, but Mary and Barb are both acting like it by snubbing you. Nonetheless, you cannot force someone to be your friend. Mary and Barb apparently have found some common ground that excludes everyone else. It's time for you to treat them with the same degree of politeness they extend to you, while you search for new, and more dependable, companions.
Dear Annie: I have been dating "Diana" for nearly two years. We both have been divorced for a long time.
As we were talking today, I noticed she was wearing her wedding ring from her ex-husband on her wedding finger. When I questioned her, she said she knew I'd be upset, but "it's just another ring from her jewelry collection." She loves jewelry.
This really bothers me. I certainly wouldn't wear my old wedding ring, and especially not on my wedding finger. How should I take this? Confused Guy
Dear Confused: Diana may be telling the truth, but her choice of ring finger is odd, especially since she knew it would upset you. It's possible she's fishing for you to replace it with another wedding band. Tell her that you would appreciate it if, out of consideration for you, she wears it in a different location. If she refuses, she is giving this ring more significance than it merits, and you might ask her why.
XE-mail your questions to anniesmailbox@com-cast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox™, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.
Creators Syndicate
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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