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Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar


Excessive Laughter Is No Laughing Matter Dear Annie: How do I tell my neighbors that it's annoying and frustrating to listen to their teenaged daughters shrieking and screaming as they're having fun outside? Often, I want to go out and play with my dog, but I can't because these girls are …Read more. Distressed Daughters Dear Annie: My father has always been especially unkind to my sister, "Portia." She always has had behavioral problems, not to mention she is a bit paranoid and has a ferocious temper. Portia also drinks too much and continues to contact her abusive …Read more. Scratching Out a Friendship with Red Pen Dear Annie: After living and working for 35 years in a large city, my husband and I were able to return to our hometown to help care for our elderly parents. I reconnected with a high school friend who asked me to work part-time in her large, …Read more. Happy Fourth of July! Dear Readers: Happy Fourth of July! Here's one of our favorite pieces, originally written in 1955 as a public relations advertisement for the Norfolk and Western Railway company magazine (now the Norfolk Southern Corporation) and updated in 1976. …Read more.
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Annie's Mailbox

Dear Annie: I have a 16-year-old daughter, "Joni," who moved back into my home 18 months ago. She had been living with my sister for a while. Joni has always been stubborn, but overall, she's always been a good kid. We talk a lot. Since school started, however, I've begun to see a change in her.

Joni used to play a lot of sports, but not anymore. She recently got in trouble at school and just missed being expelled. Then, the other day, I was looking through her binder and found a letter to a friend. This is the third one I have read, and it's mostly normal teenage stuff, except she lied about her father, with whom we do not associate. She remembers him from when she was little, but hasn't spoken to him in many years.

I don't understand why she would lie about him. I don't want to ask Joni, because she will be upset that I read the letters. I know life hasn't been a bed of roses for either of us, yet she refuses to go to counseling. She resents me for the time she had to live with her aunt, and I don't blame her.

I have tried everything from buying her love, which got me nowhere but broke, to apologizing and explaining the circumstances and limited choices I had. I've also told her I can change the future, but not the past.

Joni is a smart young lady, but lacks self-esteem. I worry that if her bad attitude continues, she might get herself into a lot of trouble, especially at school, where she is out of chances. I don't know what to do. Please help. — Worried Mom in L.A.

Dear Worried: We wouldn't put much stock in what Joni says in her letters, but we urge you to stop snooping when there is nothing to justify it. If she finds out, your relationship may not recover. Joni no doubt harbors a lot of resentment that she was shunted off to her aunt, and if she is acting out, she really should be in counseling, whether she wants it or not.

If she won't see her school counselor, talk to the principal and ask that school counseling be mandated as a condition of her "almost expelled" status. Also, consider making an appointment with an outside professional for both of you.

Dear Annie: Is it appropriate to date a man who is separated? There is no hope of reconciliation with his wife, but I don't know how long a divorce will take. If not, how long after the divorce is it appropriate to begin dating him? — Just Wondering

Dear Wondering: If a couple is legally separated, dating is permissible. (It's NOT permissible if he tells you he's separated when, in fact, he is still living with his wife.) Once a couple is divorced, both spouses are absolutely fair game, no waiting period required.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from a mother who is worried about her 16-year-old daughter who is barely 4-feet-11 and looks 12 years old. Your advice was great.

I'm a petite 4-feet-11-inches myself, and it hasn't stopped me from having a successful life. I was the shortest person in my high school, but I was an honor student and active in extracurricular activities. I was the shortest gal in my college dorm, but I dated lots of intelligent, good-looking guys. I became an officer in the military, even though I was short, female and a minority. I'm now a leader in the business community.

My own 13-year-old daughter is short, but she's so darn cute and full of life that people think she's mature beyond her years. She's learned not to let it bother her. Tell the mom to let go of her own insecurities about her daughter and find ways to help her flourish. Her daughter will be just fine. — Honolulu, Hawaii

Dear Hawaii: Obviously, scaling the heights of success has nothing to do with size. Congratulations.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



5 Comments | Post Comment
Thank God for the First Amendment; for freedom of speech and freedom of religion. A similar situation occurred prior to a council meeting, where everyone present, prayed in their own way, or to their God. A woman, who ended her prayer with, "In Jesus's Name," was told that in the future, she was not allowed to invoke the name of Jesus in prayer. There is a lot of power in that name, and it would be equally offensive and exclusive for a Muslim, Buddhist, praise Allah or whomever. I agree that the man should welcome different viewpoints and prayers, but don't call Jesus inappropriate.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Jaime Tomas
Wed May 14, 2014 1:41 PM
Your comments to "not a Christian" are about 180 degrees off from my views and I feel obligated to offer a rebuttal.

Mainly; Our right to free speech:

If you are out of step with the group you are with get in step or join a group you are compatible with.

If you feel offended by others point of view and their beliefs consider how many people may be offended by
your views and beliefs.

I admire people who show allegiance to their personal deity in public and aloud.

I am offended by those people who think only thy have the right to free speech.

Do I have the right to go into a Hip-Hop bar and demand they play only Glenn Miller music?

Walt Stafford Simi Valley CA May 14 2014
Comment: #2
Posted by: Walt Stafford
Wed May 14, 2014 3:13 PM
like many, I grieved when eppie died. But, life goes on. I had High Hope when you two took over the column, but I'm quite do your best, but just do NOT measure up. In most instances, you simply send people to web sites, which they already Knew. Please spend more time on Actual Solutions, rather than just Processing and Moving On. I did NOT expect you to take the Grande Ladie's place, but you MUST do a better Job than you are doing. as a Journalist Myself, Perhaps I'm being too critical, but I am doing it for the sake of you two Ladies. La Chiam
Comment: #3
Posted by: wyllis gordon
Mon Jun 23, 2014 4:21 PM
LW1: Your daughter needs counseling but so do you. She got in trouble at school and was almost expelled, yet you seem much more upset about what she wrote in a letter to a friend, which is none of your business. It isn't your job to tell her what to think or what to say to her friends. I feel sad for this girl, because your parenting skills are awful. So seek some counseling and start working on that. You can get better at this if you try.
Comment: #4
Posted by: LouisaFinnell
Mon Mar 16, 2015 4:34 PM
Re: Walt Stafford When you go to a board meeting for your public water supply, you shouldn't be forced to pray (or even APPEAR to pray to Allah or Jesus before you can get down to business. Yes, one can choose the company they keep, but not in a public service situation like that one. Otherwise you get a situation where only members of a certain religion get a say in how public facilities are run.
Comment: #5
Posted by: sarah stravinska
Wed Jun 3, 2015 2:52 AM
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