Dear Annie: My 37-year-old daughter, "Raya," has claimed that my husband, her stepfather, propositioned her for sex several times when she was a teenager. But she never mentioned it to me until she was in her 20s.
Over the years, Raya has needed our help for housing and finances. When she borrows money, she rarely pays us back. Whenever Raya owes us money, she will bring up these accusations. This upsets me very much. I confronted my husband, and he denies anything happened, and I believe him. After all, Raya has a 16-year-old daughter whom she has left in our care many times over the years, often when my husband is home alone. She has never voiced any concern about it.
Raya gets angry with me, saying she doesn't understand why I stay with this man and believe his version of events over hers. I've been with my husband for 26 years. He is my best friend. He is also a good man who works hard and is devoted to me. I thought victims avoided their abusers or at least showed some emotional issues in their company, but I have never witnessed anything out of order when Raya is here. She is usually happy around us, comes over on her own to swim in our pool, attends family events and shows up when she knows I'm not home. This doesn't seem like the behavior of a traumatized person.
Raya tells her story to anyone who will listen, and I want her to stop defaming my husband. Do I alienate my daughter for the sake of my marriage? How do we end this nightmare? — Caught in the Middle
Dear Caught: Not every abused child reacts the same way, and it is not uncommon for allegations of abuse to surface years after the fact. But we agree that Raya makes it difficult for you not to see ulterior motives. We recommend you and Raya get counseling together (or separately) and see whether you can reach an agreement. Ask your doctor to recommend someone who specializes in this field or contact RAINN for a referral.
Dear Annie: I am a 65-year-old grandmother. I still work because we need the extra income.
Four days a week, I drive a close relative to her job. It's 53 miles roundtrip, and she never reimburses me for gasoline, which costs me a lot. This relative doesn't have a license or a car, and we live in a rural area where there is no bus service.
I am getting depressed over this situation. We cannot talk about it. It's just expected. What can I do? — Feeling Used
Dear Used: Some people don't realize that an added passenger can be a burden. But unless you want to keep chauffeuring your relative around, you need to speak up. Be kind, saying, "Heloise, I know we both are going in the same direction, but I'd appreciate it if you started contributing toward the gasoline. The next fill-up is on you." Then remind her. If she gets huffy or refuses to pay, simply say that perhaps it is time she finds someone else to drive her. No one can take advantage of you without your permission.
Dear Annie: Your response to Confused Mom and Dad was right on. There are a lot of adult children who don't see small changes in their parents' home as they age. The flip side is parents who don't realize they need help.
My dad didn't notice the piles of magazines on every surface. When I realized this accumulation was a hazard, I said my children needed magazines for art projects. The liberated magazines were then recycled. I found other small "projects" that took 15 minutes during my weekly visits. Dad didn't notice, but I'm sure my small changes made his house safer. I wasn't telling Dad how to do things in his own home, which would have led to arguments and resentment. — Observant Fibber
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2014. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.