Living with a Fair-Weather Father Figure Dear Annie: My boyfriend, "Joe," and I have been together for five years. My son (from a previous relationship) and I moved away from family and friends to live with him. Shortly after moving, I became pregnant with our daughter. At first, our …Read more. Too Old To Be Sleeping with Grandma Dear Annie: I am very close to my 12-year-old grandson. His family life is not good, and since his parents live nearby, the boy is at my house more often than not. The problem is, he started sleeping with me when he was a baby and still does it. I …Read more. Gastric Bypass for Quitting Smoking: No Fair Trade Dear Annie: I am quite a bit overweight. My 29-year-old daughter is concerned that I might have a heart attack and die on her. Meanwhile, she has been smoking cigarettes since she was 16 years old. She said to me, "If you have gastric bypass surgery,…Read more. 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.more articles
Dear Annie: I have two sons — "Roger," who is married with three young children, and "Max," who has a baby. Max isn't married to the mother yet, but they live together and will be getting married soon. I consider her his wife. I love both the girls with all my heart.
The problem is, they are jealous of each other. They constantly claim that I favor one or the other and that I love "the other one's" kids more. I find this really annoying, and it also makes me very sad, because I love all four of my grandchildren equally and try to treat them the same. Roger's wife does not have any other family here, and Max's girlfriend was born and raised in this town, so she has a great support team. I probably spend a bit more time with Roger's kids, simply because their mother needs my help more often.
I am at the point now where I am afraid to even visit or call either of them for fear the other will get angry. This seems really petty to me, and I wish they would quit fighting over me like a dog with a bone. I know a lot of mothers-in-law might think this is wonderful, but it's not. Annie, how can I salvage our family closeness without losing my mind? — Mom in the Middle
Dear Mom in the Middle: These girls are using you to cement their position in the family. If you are truly making every effort to treat them equally, don't get into lengthy arguments defending yourself. Unless their complaints have merit, ignore them. Be polite, calm and kind at all times, and smile and change the subject when necessary. When they see you will not jump through hoops and they can't play you against each other, they will stop.
Dear Annie: I'm a 54-year-old divorced woman. A year ago, I met a very nice older man at a dance and we started dating. I thought 64 was too old for me, but I convinced myself that 10 years was not such a big deal. In three months, we were engaged. Two months later, he told me that he is really 20 years my senior.
This came as a shock, and I don't know what to do because I love him.
I'm taking care of my 84-year-old failing father right now and am terrified of becoming a caregiver for another old man in a few years. It would break his heart if we broke up. Please help me. — Conflicted in Massachusetts
Dear Conflicted: You have no way of knowing what your life will be like in the future, just as there are no guarantees that a younger man wouldn't become ill and require care. You are smart to recognize the problem, but the answer depends on how much you love him. Marriage vows are "in sickness and in health," regardless of age. If you would resent becoming his caregiver should the need arise, it would be a kindness to break it off.
Dear Annie: "Sleepless and Nervous" could have been me. She said she hides bills and debts from her husband, just like I did.
She may want to consider a psychological evaluation. The sleeplessness, anxiety, helplessness and depression, as well as the spending, may very well be due to bipolar disorder, which can be treated by a competent psychiatrist with a combination of medication and therapy. She can go to the National Institute of Mental Health website at www.nimh.nih.gov/healthinformation/bipolarmenu.cfm.
There is hope. Several years later, I am debt free, still married, have a successful career, and am able to enjoy every minute of parenting our beautiful children. — Grateful in Connecticut
Dear Grateful: Thank you for pointing out that some compulsive behaviors are indicative of bipolar disorder. We know our readers will find your advice helpful.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
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