DEAR AMY: My cousin "Larry" was diagnosed with liver cancer. His mother, siblings and I arranged a fundraiser benefit and opened up a bank account in his name to raise money to cover his medical costs.
Larry is a father of five school-age children, and prior to the diagnosis he was working full-time. His wife, "Sally," is a stay-at-home mom.
Prior to starting the fundraiser, Larry's mother and siblings told him about it so he would be aware of it. We received a lot of support from everyone until Sally told us to stop the fundraiser immediately and said they would not accept any of the money.
Members of Sally's church are bringing meals to her every day, so it's obvious that she will accept help. Donations from members of her church are acceptable, but she is not willing to accept any donations from our family?
We are shocked and saddened by her behavior. We have never encountered someone refusing a gift. Her actions have offended my entire extended family.
All we were trying to do was to help and support a member of our family, and we wanted a way to help. Sally is now trying to turn Larry against us by refusing our offer. How should we react to this? — Sad
DEAR SAD: You should react to this much more gracefully than you have so far.
Your offer sounds generous, but you have delivered it with a sledgehammer.
It is disrespectful to conduct a fundraiser on someone else's behalf without that person's permission. Your relative might have decided in retrospect that he did not want his health challenges announced to the world, and taking money might embarrass or offend him and/or his wife.
The thing to do is to approach the ill person and his family with an attitude of concern and openness. Offer to do practical things, such as taking the kids, doing yard or housework, or going to the grocery store. Stop blaming this family for being who they are and keep your focus on the issue at hand, which is how to assist a family member with a very tough road ahead.
DEAR AMY: I am a young professional in Toronto whose family has recently moved stateside. I really miss my family but have recently met someone who is sort of a sister substitute for me. I have helped her to find a job and a place to live.
The problem is that she has now found herself a boyfriend. He seems like he has his head on his shoulders, and even my husband has commented on his maturity and kindness toward my friend.
However, she has confided in me that he wants her to "sleep around" with other guys.
She seems ecstatic by his proposal, and maybe it's just the old-fashioned conservative in me speaking, but I just can't see this ending well. I know she is an adult and free to make her own decisions, but how do I properly communicate my concerns?
Not only is there the risk of her being hurt emotionally, but her health could be in jeopardy. — Friend/Sister
DEAR FRIEND/SISTER: Here's what you say: "Wow, this sounds risky to me. I don't see this ending well. Make sure you use a condom and get tested for STDs."
Other than that, if your friend is a consenting adult and wants to fly her freak flag, then she will bear the consequences.
DEAR AMY: Regarding your response to "Flummoxed," I respectfully ask: Are you nuts?
This stupid 37-year-old pregnant woman is being totally unrealistic. Her mother has a duty to try to guide her to a smarter decision such as giving the baby up for adoption or having an abortion (if it isn't too late). She makes $100/week, will need to sue her boyfriend for child support (lucky if she gets any) and wants to go back to school? Some people just don't have a clue. — Disgusted
DEAR DISGUSTED: Adoption and abortion are off the table, because the daughter is going to keep the baby. After that, the duty of both mothers should be to commit to raising this child in the safest environment possible.