Dear Ellie: My father tested positive for COVID yesterday and our family isolation starts today. We will go for a rapid test as soon as our five-day isolation ends.
But he has already left the house and gone into a store. We try to calmly tell him that that isn’t allowed, that he will infect others, etc.
He says that we are yelling at him and that “everyone will get COVID eventually.” We are so frustrated, and our stress levels are so high.
How do we deal with someone who flat-out refuses to follow the rules?
There are more of you than him. First, protect yourselves with masks and isolation, and refuse to have him in your presence without his wearing a mask. It’s unclear whether he lives with you, but if he does, it makes your distancing essential, along with vaccinations and a booster for those who haven’t yet received them.
Secondly, he’s still your father so try to understand what’s driving his behaviour. He’s possibly also scared/uncertain about COVID (who isn’t?) and angry about feeling that way, so taking a defiant stand.
Tell him gently — yelling is a certain turn-off — that you love him, and that’s why you worry about him. Then tell him that every other father/mother/relative/friend has someone they worry about, too. We all want our close people to stay healthy.
And that’s why it’s so important that everyone accept the restrictions, especially during this Omicron surge. Keep reminding him through this period that this is the reason why it matters. To all of us.
Dear Ellie: When I was 16, I was in my senior year because the school system that I attended had advanced me twice. The other students in my class were mostly 18.
One guy came on to me from the first day. He was very cute, smart, amusing, and popular. I immediately had a crush. But everything between us was kept private so our classmates wouldn’t tease us.
We were making out a lot whenever possible. His parents both worked, so there were three hours after school before they came home, when we could be alone in his house.
I was into him, but I wasn’t willing to go all the way. I felt too young for that and scared. I loved being with him but after a few months I got tired of the disagreements.
We both graduated and went to different colleges/universities. I heard he moved to Boston and married there. I never saw him again.
I’m 38 now, married with two kids. I recently attended an annual event and was introduced to a member’s visiting sister, a widow.
She took me aside and quietly said that her husband, my short-term boyfriend, had died a year ago from a sudden heart attack at 40. She said he’d once told her about his “first big crush” on me. I was stunned!
Do I email this woman and tell her the nice things I remember about her late husband? Do I mention his unsuccessful pursuit of having sex with me?
No. Definitely not. Let this woman whose husband died suddenly, way too young, have only her memories.
If she reaches out to you further, tell her only how smart he was, and amusing. Be clear that it was a short-lived high-school romance as you, especially, were very young.
Say nothing about the sexual conflict.
Reader’s commentary regarding the woman who met her boyfriend’s “awful” family (Jan. 3):
“RUN! Your boyfriend sounds great but his family do not. You say you work in mental health, so you know the negative signs. I’m saying this from lived experience.
“I and my children deserved to have a loving family — including grandparents — but they never showed up. My in-laws made the choice to not be around for birthdays, Christmas and special occasions.
“There was no support, love, caring, compassion — no effort on their part at all. If I’d recognized the signs when I was very young, I would’ have left the relationship.
“There will only be resentment. Children deserve loving grandparents and family. Unfortunately, with this pandemic, isolation has increased social distancing and stress in families.
“If you’re in a relationship and you don’t feel respected by the other person’s family, consider leaving the relationship. Take it from someone who knows.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
If someone close ignores COVID restrictions, explain that every family needs to help lessen cases/hospitalizations. Also, try to understand their fears.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.