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Witness to a Friend's (Abusive) Marriage Dear Annie: As a witness to a friend's marriage, I vowed to help keep their relationship strong. Would you please print something I could give them about verbal abuse? His wife has a serious drinking problem, and when she's had too much, she goes …Read more. Girlfriend, Uninvited Dear Annie: I have been dating "Pete" for three years and never get invited to his place. He lives in a mobile home. At first, he said he was embarrassed for me to visit. I did see it once and thought it wasn't bad at all. He has since remodeled the …Read more. Turning Bad Health Good with Diet and Exercise Dear Annie: I would like to comment on Gail Rae-Garwood's letter about kidney disease. I retired in 2010, and like a lot of retirees, I was complacent about my health. I had been taking insulin for my diabetes for 20 years and had high cholesterol …Read more. Parenting Fail Dear Annie: My husband keeps telling our sons they can do whatever they want when I tell them "no," and that they don't need to listen to me. He is never on my side. The kids make fun of me and call me names, and Dad doesn't seem to care. When I …Read more.
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Annie's Mailbox

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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 anniesmailbox@comcast.net, 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 www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2007 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.



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