DEAR AMY: My sister lost her wonderful husband two years ago in a tragic accident. A month before his passing she had quit her job to be a stay-at-home mom with their two young daughters. Since then, she has taken on pyramid-type sales ventures to supplement her income. She currently sells clothing, beauty supplies and wellness supplements for three companies -- all at in-home sales parties. She requests a lot of help from her family (our aging parents and our siblings) with moving truckloads of product to and from venues for her sales and hosting sales parties. She also demands that we purchase her products (with no discount, mind you). Initially we all did everything she asked to support her through her grief. But after two years of giving up our own weeknights, weekends and money to make her ventures successful, we've grown weary of the commitment she expects of us. We each have tried to speak with her on the matter one on one, but she responds in an emotional way and reminds us that she lost her husband. We all miss him and recognize the huge loss she's suffered, but when can we tell her to "stop playing the widow card" to get free labor and paying customers from her family?
Grown Weary in Nebraska
DEAR WEARY: It sounds as if your sister is working very hard to try to make a living from home, but these "house party" businesses seem to use free labor as a phantom cost that artificially props up the profit margin.
Unfortunately, the only way to get out of this commitment is to be firm about it, knowing that if you are, she may just rely more heavily on others (your parents, for example). Perhaps there is a way you can help her that doesn't have you directly involved in the business. Can you watch the kids one weekend a month? Can you help cover the cost of some of their school expenses? Tell her very clearly what you are willing (and no longer willing) to do. Don't react to her emotional manipulation, other than to say you're very sorry about her situation, but you can no longer help her in the way you have been.
DEAR AMY: I recently responded to a friend's Facebook post. She had posted a picture from her past. I commented on how nice it was to see the photo and what great memories it brought back. She then responded to my post with a cringe-worthy comment, asking if I remembered a certain night with "so and so." I do remember those days well. They are buried deep -- just where I want them. My family (kids, husband, other relatives, etc.) see these responses. I have no intentions of sharing stories of youthful indiscretions with the aforementioned FB friend. I just wish everyone would be mindful of comments made beyond "nice picture" or "brings back memories." I'm sure I'll catch a lot of heat from readers, but I want to keep my past to myself. What do you think?
What's Past is Past
DEAR PAST: You have encountered the classic Facebook overshare. This is the same person who might say to one of your kids: "You should have seen Mom back in the day! She was the original Party Animal!" Here are some options for how you can deal with it: Quietly scroll through, move on and hope others don't carry it further.
Delete the original comment YOU made.
Send that friend a private message, asking her to be more discreet (or "block" or "hide" her).
Respond with humor: "Busted!" I enjoy Facebook, but if my privacy is going to be violated, I want to be the one doing it.
DEAR AMY: The letter from "Angry in Anaheim" made me crazy. This person didn't want to follow his 91-year-old father's advance directive DNR. The whole point of doing this when you are relatively healthy is to avoid this sort of manipulation later. I'm in my 50s and I've made mine out. Everybody knows what my wishes are.
DEAR PREPARED: Good move on your part.