creators home lifestyle web
Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar


Secret Keeper Dear Annie: My only sibling has stopped speaking to me. My brother had a son 26 years ago. He claims he knew nothing about the child until I told him six months ago that he should take responsibility for his oldest son. We had words, and he texted …Read more. Inappropriate Roughhousing Dear Annie: My girlfriend has a thing that she does with her 10-year-old son that I find borderline weird. The first time I was at her home, while we were cooking dinner together, her son started whining, "Can we do it now, please? Please?" and she …Read more. Reliving High School Through Facebook Dear Annie: While in high school in the late 1970s, there was this guy, "Scott," who had a crush on me. Nothing transpired back then, so fast-forward 30 years. A month ago, I received a Facebook friend request from Scott. Of course, I accepted and …Read more. Never-Ending Bullying Dear Annie: I am the youngest sister of 10 siblings. Over the years, five siblings have died. You'd think we would try to be closer after such awful losses. So when does the bullying stop? I have tried to be an upstanding sister and aunt, but no …Read more.
more articles

Hands Are Tied when a Messed-Up Child Is a Legal Adult


Dear Annie: My 20-year-old nephew has been a troubled youth, despite all the attempts of his family to help him, including counseling and rehab. When he was 18, he became involved with a messed-up 14-year-old girl who used drugs, alcohol and sex to get her way.

A year ago, my nephew's family moved out of state, but last fall he reconnected with the old girlfriend via Facebook. The girl's father bought my nephew a plane ticket to come visit. She is now a spoiled 17-year-old dropout who refuses to get a job. Worse yet, while visiting, my nephew also reconnected with all their former drug-using "friends."

My nephew is now back with his family, but the girl constantly texts and calls. It seems she is planning to run away and join him. His family is furious. They hadn't known about the plane ticket and never wanted him involved with this girl. They are trying to get him back into rehab, but he refuses to do anything to help himself. Any ideas? — Florida

Dear Florida: It is terribly sad when a child is so self-destructive that you can only sit and watch. But your nephew is a legal adult, and there isn't much the family can do to change his behavior. Please urge them to contact Families Anonymous ( and Because I Love You ( for help, suggestions and emotional support.

Dear Annie: Several years ago, you printed an essay about a dog who had lived a long life and had become old and sickly and wanted his master to do him a favor and let him die. It was written from the dog's viewpoint, and I think of it often. Would it be possible to rerun it? — Rockford, Ill.

Dear Rockford: Thank you for asking.

We last printed this in 2007, and several readers have requested it since then. Here it is:

A Dog's Plea by Beth Norman Harris

Treat me kindly, my beloved friend, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.

Do not break my spirit with a stick, for though I might lick your hand between blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me learn.

Speak to me often, for your voice is the world's sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when the sound of your footstep falls upon my waiting ear.

Please take me inside when it is cold and wet, for I am a domesticated animal, no longer accustomed to bitter elements. I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth.

Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst.

Feed me clean food that I might stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.

And, my friend, when I am very old, and I no longer enjoy good health, hearing and sight, do not make heroic efforts to keep me going. I am not having any fun.

Please see that my trusting life is taken gently. I shall leave this Earth knowing with the last breath I draw that my fate was always safest in your hands.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. 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



17 Comments | Post Comment
LW1 - I am sorry that your nephew is having a difficult time getting on the right path, but it sounds to me like you are blaming the girl. He's 3-4 years older than she is. In fact, I believe that in Illinois he technically committed statutory rape when he was 18 and she was 14. Anyway, my point is that your nephew is responsible for his own choices. This girl is not putting a gun to his head and forcing him to make decisions.

Be there, be supportive, but if this is the path he chooses there may not be anything anyone can do.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Zoe
Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:12 PM
Firstly, To FAW and DAWN, thank you for your words on the Friday posting.

In my tears I had neglected to give credit to the VFW and American Legion organizations to help the veteran with this questions. They are a local assistance to help get the ball rolling, but they also would refer to the Veterans Service Officer. At least in our local areas. And yes, both organizations have been in our 'household' since little. Parents members of both. And I as a youth in their junior area.

I text my family to remind them of the date and then had a long phone call with my mom.
LW1: The parents of this son can take their past struggles and current issues and go to the county attorney's office, see what they can do or where to contact to get him a ward of the parents again. It can be done. My neice and nephew did this a couple years ago. And the judge signed the order for a year. And treatment was part of the deal or committment to a longer term facililtly.

Each state has different areas that are of importance to them, hopefully there are laws that will allow this to help the frustrated parents. As it seems, the parents of the girl have already thrown her away. --The money???? It is called DON'T BOTHER ME, NOW GO AWAY money.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Joyce/MN
Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:22 PM
Unfortunately, the kid being a legal adult, the only lever the parents now have is through the enforcement of the rules of their own house.

I know a lof of people cringe at the thought of what can happen when tough love is imposed, but there comes a time when the parents have done just about everything they can to rescue their kids from his own foolishness. I think we're at this point here.

They provided him with therapy and rehad, all to no avail. Kiddo doesn't wanna change and they can't make him. They can only stipulate what they will no tolerate and what the consequences of transgressions will be. And that stipulation should be clear: either he forgets about this girl and starts cleaning up his act, or he leaves. Otherwise, not only will it be an unending succession of destructive and possibly dangerous drama, but they'll end up saddled with the girl as well.

P.S.: The father bought him a plane ticket, heh? Methinks he's looking for a sucker to take her off his hands.

Comment: #3
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:25 PM
It's very cute the way that LW1 blames the child that her adult nephew sexually abused for his self-destructive choices in life.

Yeah, at 14 years old the girl was just using the nephew, and now, at 17 (still a child), she refuses to support herself financially. Really???

It's ridiculous to say that you "can only sit and watch." "The girl" is a minor. You nephew is guilty of statutory rape. Report him to the authorities, and maybe court-ordered rehabilitation will save him from his choices.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Bear
Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:43 AM
LW1 - the nephew doesn't do anything to "help himself" because he probably doesn't see that he has a problem. He has a young woman in his life that wants him. How is that a problem to him? I don't know what the family can do to "fix" this, but one thing that they can do is stop acting like this young man is a helpless victim in his own life. The clear tone of this letter is that the nephew is blameless. An evil teenage girl fooled & seduced him into committing statutory rape. Her evil father conspired to keep it going. His horrible friends expose him to drugs. Give it up. I don't doubt this girl is bad news and her father might be idiot enough to want your nephew around his daughter. However, this kid is responsible for what he does, not these other people. Maybe if the family starts holding the nephew accountable for his own choices, not letting him off the hook by blaming everyone else, that would be a step in the right direction.
Comment: #5
Posted by: kai archie
Sat Feb 18, 2012 4:15 AM
Bear, I DO agree that the 20-year old nephew should not be having sex with an underage girl, but this is not a grown man manipulating a teenage girl's vulnerability, but a teen girl being enabled by her family to pursue self-destructive habits, such as seducing a grown man. I would have hoped that his family would have spoken to him when the relationship began about the dangers involved in their age difference.

The last thing this young man needs is sex-offender registration for the rest of his life because of his consensual relationship with this girl. That's what will happen if they contact the authorities. It is very difficult for these young men to stay clean and sober when the sex offender label causes jobs, housing, educational opportunities and appropriate social interactions to be closed to them. At 20, a sex offender registration will ruin his life. Get him into rehab and, perhaps, they can point out to him what could happen if the girl's father decides he no longer wishes to facilitate this relationship. It's happened to many young men, unfortunately.

I doubt that will actually happen as my guess is that dad is hoping she and the young man will run off together and she won't be his problem anymore. But one never knows.

I'm all for notifying the authorities when a grown man tries to lure young children and teens into sexual relationships, commits violent sexual crimes, etc. But too many young men have had their futures wiped out because they had consensual sex with a girl just a few years younger than them, often with her parents' full knowledge and consent, only to have mom or dad exact revenge when the relationship turns sour.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Wordsworth
Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:00 AM
LW1—You might as well give up your nephew as a lost cause. As the Annies pointed out, he's a legal adult and entitled to make his own mistakes. Your nephew is smitten with the spoiled little loser from another state because she likely took his virginity, she's a bad girl, and as we all know, nothing tastes sweeter than the forbidden fruit. Your only hope is that your nephew's parents will inform their son in no uncertain terms that if he messes up his life again, then he's on his own; they're not swooping in to bail him out. I also hope someone has taught the young man about the basics of birth control. I'll go out on a limb and predict that within two years, the girl will have produced a baby with your nephew and they'll all be forever leaching off his parents who will find their hands tied by the presence of the grandchild and the con artist that holds it hostage. Sigh!
Comment: #7
Posted by: Chris
Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:26 AM
LW1 - The only thing to do is to get a hanky, buy some pop corn and Milk Duds and sit back and enjoy the drama. This kid won't change and this flick will not have a happy ending.

LW2 - That essay always chokes me up. Nice.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Rick
Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:29 AM
I have. 7 brothers,two of my brothers are just like your nephew.The only thing different is my parents.are to blame. I have learned to ignore my parents complaints about them.Instead I change the subject.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Lori
Sat Feb 18, 2012 7:38 AM
Re: Rick...There's also THE RAINBOW BRIDGE that tells the story of any pet who's "gone on before". Beautiful, beautiful and very comforting story for all of us who have ever lost their beloved pet. Just *Google* it.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Ms Davie
Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:55 AM
LW1: Watching a loved one self destruct is one of the most painful things to experience. I hear from relatives every single day who talk about the helplessness they feel. I describe this type of behavior as a self inflicted cancer, and the cure is staring them in the face, but they refuse the treatment. I feel for you, I really do, but please keep in mind that you can support him emotionally, BUT DON'T GIVE HIM A DIME. If comes to you with a sob story about his rent or car insurance, and you want to help, pay the bills yourself. If he needs money for groceries, get him the groceries. You get my point. But the best thing you can do for him, and I'm not kidding in the least, is to pay for him to get a vasectomy. That way, there are no innocent children being born to this sick union. When he (hopefully) gets his head on straight, he can get it reversed.
Comment: #11
Posted by: happymom
Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:56 AM
Re: happymom
Tell me about it. I see exactly that with the ex-LOML, and there ain't sh*t-all I or anyone else can do about it - many people have been trying for years.

Comment: #12
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:00 AM
LW1 - Like others have said, he is a legal adult. You can't force him to do anything or clean up. However, I would look into what Joyce said. I do know remember a case in my home state where a 22 year old girl was aneorexic and on the verge of death and her parents got a judge to declare the girl the ward of her parents again. They forced her into a facility. I don't know if it worked but it's worth a shot.

I was thinking was Lise what said about the girl's father inviting him out for a visit. He's hoping he'll take the girl when she turns 18.

Such a sad situation.
Comment: #13
Posted by: Michelle
Sat Feb 18, 2012 12:30 PM
I just finished watching the end of the Whitney Huston memorial service. I did not watch the whole thing, just the last hour. I was so afraid it was going to be a 3 ring circus like the M. Jackson service. I would have loved to have been a mouse in the corner in that church. Listening to the love from the people speaking and the power of it being brought together in the church. The Holy Spirit came through very strong. My heart was drawn into it--I did not watch it for who it was for, but knowing the strong ties to a strong baptist background--the music was powerful, the homily was truthful. It was the spirit going back to the begining--to be with her Lord.
I had flashes of my own feelings at my dad and brother's funerals and how your insides felt torn out. And how her family, with all the details of her life, simply loved her.
All in all--Amen.
Comment: #14
Posted by: Joyce/MN
Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:19 PM
How nice that the son got a Facebook account, found his former girlfriend -- whom truth be told, probably never was completely out of his mind -- connected with her, and resumed his former lifestyle.

Agree with everyone else ... not much that can be done at this point. The only thing that I can add that hasn't already been said is ... hopefully someday he'll realize the consequences of hanging out with this girl. Doing the math, she's 16 and he's 20 ... and laws varies by state. Maybe it'll all work out for the best.

Surprised there have been little comment about LW2. Also a painful part of life, I'm sure ... but there are times where simply you have to let go ... even a valued part of the family. Please, listen to your dog, and when he becomes old, sick and no longer that playful young dog you fell in love with, don't hang on to him. Sometimes, sadly, it is obviously best the dog needs to be put to sleep, and you're doing him a grand favor by letthing him die with dignity. (Yes, I'm sure most veterinarians will let you sit with your loved dog until he/she draws his/her last breath.)

A well-written letter and reminder.
Comment: #15
Posted by: Bobaloo
Sat Feb 18, 2012 7:46 PM
Re: Joyce/MN
Joyce,I'm sorry to hear about the pain caused by the loss of your father and brother. I send you hugs.
Comment: #16
Posted by: Michael
Sat Feb 18, 2012 7:48 PM
Re: Michael
Thank you, it means alot.

You know, it takes such little to reflect on your past life, and the sadness fades while the good memories shine. It comes down to very little on our last day. Whitney's last song she sang that day was Jesus Loves me. That was the song my brother loved to sing. And my grandchildren. And the little kids DO know what it means. Simple.

Comment: #17
Posted by: Joyce/MN
Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:43 PM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right: comments policy
Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar
Feb. `16
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 1 2 3 4 5
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month