DEAR HARRIETTE: I am newly married and living in a new home, and I just had a baby. Life is fantastic. I am grateful. My best friend, however, is now the "messy auntie." She shows up at my house at all hours, never wants to help with the baby but wants to play with him. She eats and drinks all of our food and never cleans up. She has really bought into the whole idea of playing with the baby and returning it to the mommy when it cries. She says she comes to help, but she just creates an inconvenience for me when she tells me to take a break, but my break always gets interrupted.
I love my best friend, but now that I'm a mom, it is like she wants to be my kid, too. She has never been so carefree before. She's taking control of my new home and family. My husband kicks her out for me, but I do not have the heart to tell her how exhausted she is making me. I do not want to be a bad friend and start ignoring her calls and dodging her, but I don't know what to say either. -- Messy Auntie
DEAR MESSY AUNTIE: Your job is to put your foot down with your friend and educate her. Chances are, she doesn't know how to be helpful. You need to tell her how her behavior is negatively impacting you, your family and your life. Tell her you love her and need her to support in specific ways. The clearer you are, the more likely your best friend will fall in line.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am one of 10 grandchildren. Our grandmother passed away last month, and her will left everything to her eldest daughter, my mother. My mother has Alzheimer's disease, and I have fiduciary duty over her accounts. All of my family -- aunts, uncles and cousins -- have been coming at me to split up my grandmother's money and give it to everyone since my mom isn't going to do anything with it.
Since my mother is unable to make a decision as to what to do with the money, I have decided to leave it in an account or invest it into a CD. I announced this news to the family, hoping that everyone would leave me alone, but it made the situation worse. Some have confided their problems to me, while others (with whom I have not had a close relationship before) are being really nice to me, and the rest are threatening to take me to court. They seem to think that I am planning to keep the money for myself after my mother dies. The last thing on my mind is losing my mother.
All I can do is cry. Death and money have divided my family, and all I want to do is run away and never talk to them again -- but that will only confirm their accusations against me and land me in court. Should I just give them the money and let them devour each other over it? I never had a lot of money to begin with, and it doesn't seem worth it to me now. -- Family Odds
DEAR FAMILY ODDS: Consult with an attorney who specializes in handling wills and family estates. Learn your legal rights and ask for recommendations for how to handle matters as thoughtfully as possible. While you may be under no obligation to share any resources with the family, think about what your mother might have done if she were of sound mind. Sharing something with your family members will go a long way toward family unity.