Dear Annie: I am the manager of a small business with one co-worker. For the past eight years, “Sheila” and I have gotten along fairly well. Last year, not so much. Sheila has become lazy, obnoxious and surly. She seems to have a chip on her shoulder, and her teenage kids are a nightmare (drugs, shoplifting, alcohol, sexual activities, theft, you name it). She brings all of this baggage to work and talks about it. I just try to get through the day without too much drama.
When it was time for Sheila’s end-of-year evaluation, I could not bring myself to give her a better grade than the previous year. Not only had the evaluation criteria become stricter, but Sheila had changed. When she saw her score, she became angry and upset. I asked whether she had any ideas for her development and improvement for the coming year, and she said to increase her alcohol consumption.
I am close to retirement. Should I put the hard feelings behind me or find someone to replace her? Sheila is a single mom, and I know she needs the job. I am torn. I have referred her and her family to our EAP counseling several times, but it falls on deaf ears. — Need Less Drama
Dear Drama: We feel sorry for Sheila. She has her hands full at home and is probably stressed beyond measure. When she comes to work, she feels secure enough to vent, and it relieves the pressure and is therapeutic for her. Unfortunately, it’s not therapeutic for you.
Please be compassionate, as well as honest. Tell Sheila that you understand she is under a great deal of pressure, but when she takes out her frustrations at work, it makes it difficult to be around her. Say that talking about her troubles will help, but she should utilize the EAP services so that her problems won’t spill over onto her job.
Dear Annie: My heart breaks for all of these grandparents who write to you saying they have no contact with their grandchildren. I had the same issue.
After two years of sleepless nights, daily crying and grieving, I realized my life was passing me by. The three of my five children who decided we are not good enough to participate in their lives never grieved the loss at all. In fact, they are thriving and happy, and now there are four grandchildren we do not know.
My oldest and youngest daughters sat back patiently wondering whether I would stop mourning long enough to remember that they never left me, and that their kids are excited and happy to be part of our lives. They call me often, and we visit frequently. While I am deeply saddened that I no longer know my other children, we should not forget those who do appreciate and respect us.
My advice to all who are suffering is to take charge of your life. Give yourself permission to be happy, strong and creative. Parenting has no recipe. Other factors helped shape each of my children. I have no idea why some act like we don’t deserve to live. But I do know that I am stronger, more humble, more forgiving and closer to those who want to share my life. I am grateful beyond measure. — Finally at Peace
Dear Finally: Thank you for your sage advice. We cannot always change the things that bring us grief, but we can change how we respond. We hope your words bring comfort and encouragement to others.
Dear Annie: I want to respond to “Frustrated in Louisville,” whose husband interrupts her constantly.
My husband does the same thing and also believes he is doing nothing wrong. I don’t think he is intentionally being mean. I believe it’s related to his other symptoms of dementia. Perhaps that lady’s husband is also experiencing early signs of dementia. — Anonymous
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.