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Margo Howard


Mom Purloins the Diary Dear Margo: I found out last week that our 17-year-old high school junior is having sex with her boyfriend! First of all, I found out the wrong way: I snooped in her room and read her diary. Second, she would never admit to it, so my husband …Read more. The Bad Seed Dear Margo: I never thought I would write to an advice columnist, but here goes. I've been dating someone for about a year now, and we talk of marriage occasionally. He's ready for commitment and very gung-ho about us getting married, which is …Read more. Oh, and, Uh, By the Way... Dear Margo: I am soon to be 27 years old, and my only serious relationship ended a few years ago. In hopes of avoiding the standard meat market of dating, I'm considering registration with I've also had my share of casual relationships.…Read more. It Is in the Bible, but Not in the Stars Dear Margo: I have been dating a wonderful man for four months now. He is very kind and sweet in every way. We are much in love and happy together. There is only one problem: We are different religions. I am a Christian; he is agnostic. I have …Read more.
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Who Should Kiss Whom, and How?


Dear Margo: My husband and I married earlier this year, and we have a great relationship. We both came into the marriage with children. The one thing that seems to be driving me crazy is that my husband kisses his 5-year-old daughter on the lips. It's just a peck, but it aggravates me to no end. I have a daughter, and I always kiss her on the cheek. I even explained that you do not kiss on the lips unless you are married. I have mentioned that I'm totally against the gesture; he said he will do so until the day he dies. Fine, but I feel this is intruding on our relationship, as I see it being a sexual gesture and very inappropriate. I have read articles about this, and it is very controversial. I am not sure that I will be able to handle this much longer. Is it wrong of me to ask him for "only my lips or no lips"? — Want My Husband's Lips for Myself

Dear Want: Personally, I agree with you and have always found it kind of creepy. But I have seen many people kiss their children like this, and I don't think it's seductive. Gestures mean different things to different people. To your husband, kissing on the lips is his sign of affection. To you, it's a boundary violation.

I would open the discussion with him in a new way. Perhaps the act itself is less meaningful than his resistance to granting your request. Does he resist your suggestions in general? Might he experience you as eager to weaken his relationship with his daughter? Is there guilt about divorcing the child's mother? Ask yourself why you feel so possessive of his lips and whether it is hard to share his affection. Frankly, I think this issue will subside when his daughter becomes an adolescent and becomes embarrassed by parental affection.

— Margo, probingly

To Tweak or Not To Tweak, That Is the Question

Dear Margo: I am frustrated by the poor grammar used today by young and old. I recently began dating a wonderful man who has so many good qualities, yet his poor grammar bothers me. He refers to "her and I" and "me and Joe" instead of "she and I" and "Joe and I." Is there a gentle way that I can correct his grammar without offending him? Would you please provide a basic lesson to your readers with the hope that others will realize they are speaking incorrectly? Please remind your readers that a simple way to know whether it is correct or not is to remove the other person. "She went to the store," not "Her went to the store." "I went to the store," not "Me went to the store." Thank you. — English Is Our First Language.

Dear Eng: I hope this doesn't ruin your day, but I have been told by linguists that when a construction is used incorrectly often enough it becomes an acceptable part of the language. The "me and Joe" thing is no longer a no-no. Now ain't that a kick in the head? As for people realizing they are speaking incorrectly, that is unlikely to happen because people speak, well ... the way they speak. I do know that a lot of people use the "her and I" construction, but "her went to the store" I have trouble believing anyone would say.

As for your lovely man, only you would know how he would react to being corrected. You might tell him that it's a craziness of yours, but you're a stickler for grammar, and then teach him some of your tricks for parsing phrases. Do tread gingerly, though, because if he feels diminished, him and you will not be going to the store. — Margo, carefully

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers' daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.




36 Comments | Post Comment

LW1: My husband and I kiss our daughter on the lips and she is growing out of it. She is now five and sometimes she gives us a peck on the lips and sometimes she turns her head and asks for a kiss on the cheek. Both my grandmothers kiss me on the lips and now that one of them is gone, it makes me happy that I was so lucky to have such a great family. We are far from perfect but who is perfect? I don't get grossed out at all my hugs and kisses from kids to family and friends, what would you rather see, high fives and air kisses?

LW2: I moved from a large, urban capital to a small town on the other side of the country. I never made fun of anyone and while my manner of speaking seemed prim to some, I was just being myself. I did not correct one of my friends when she said, "I seen him at the store" or "I got nothin' and I never said anything when one of my girlfriends hocked a loogy from six feet into a garbage can. What is also worse is when someone who is undereducated learns a better vocabulary but doesn't learn the correct grammar to go along with it. Either way you slice it, keep in mind, that some people make fun of people who speak using correct grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, it grates on them when they hear a goody-two-shoes uptown snob speak well. I wasn't like Winchester on the MASH episodes and I never made fun of anyone or talked down to anyone and I also don't speak with a British accent or even like mustard but I can't tell you how many times somebody offered to get some "Grey Poupon" for me. I would literally have to use some f-bombs to get people to lighten up and leave me alone, and I wudn't even doin' nothin' wrong!
Comment: #1
Posted by: Chelle
Fri Aug 6, 2010 9:45 PM
Bad grammar drives me nuts, too. A lot of people get defensive if corrected, or even call people like me "grammar Nazis" on behalf of a third party. It is a pet peeve of mine, but I generally refrain from correcting others since the corrected party would probably just snap at me 9 times out of 10, then go away telling themselves what a snob I am. That all said, the "me and Joe went to the store" is probably the mildest incorrect grammar I've heard of. What burns my toast, is when people confuse "they're" with "their," "it's" with "its" (it's backwards from what you'd think), and joining sentences with a comma instead of a period. Then there is my favorite...using an apostrophe for plural when it's properly used for possessive. Example: "2 hammer's in my toolbox" instead of "The hammer's handle is broken." My advice is to just leave other people's speech & writing alone, and simply police your own grammar & punctuation carefully.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Matt
Fri Aug 6, 2010 10:33 PM
Sociologists and anthropologists generally agree that the act of kissing is derived from ancient parents' chewing food for their young children and then depositing it into their mouths. Assuming this is correct, then it would make more sense for a parent to touch his/her lips to the child's than to touch them to a mate's.

That aside, it sounds to me like LW1 is just jealous of the daughter. She might as well relax, though, because the daughter will probably grow out of wanting kisses from Daddy by the time she's a teenager.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Bear
Sat Aug 7, 2010 12:37 AM
LW1: In my family we always kissed Mom and Grandma on the lips. Nothing sexual about it and shame on anyone who thinks it is. Why is this woman so uncomfortable? In many foreign countries perfectly straight men kiss or hold hands. That's also asexual. It's the stepmom here who has the problem, not the dad and daughter.
Comment: #4
Posted by: nick1010
Sat Aug 7, 2010 4:15 AM
LW1 - Did you not know that your husband kisses his daughter on the mouth BEFORE you got married? That would be the only reason why I would sympathize with you at all, and even then I would say get over it. But if you knew of his smooch habits before and still married him despite your uneasiness, then you absolutely cannot make this an issue now. The fact that it bothers you enough to write for advice about it tells me that you probably jumped into a second marriage either too early and/or too desperately. And I can guarandamntee you that there are habits you have with your own children that irk your husband. Unless you all want to begin playing the "I'll stop this if you stop that" game, drop it and enjoy the fact that your husband is a loving father.

LW2 - Read "Eats, Shoots & Leaves" by Lynne Truss. It is a very humorous little book for any grammar fan.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Curl
Sat Aug 7, 2010 5:35 AM
How does LW1s husband greet the rest of his family? Is this little girl the only one he kisses on the lips? I think if this were the exception she certainly would have mentioned it as it would be very telling one way or the other. I am a lip kisser therefore I see nothing wronng with it.

I was one of those annoying people who corrected others language usage. Being an educator I was told many times, "You are NOT an English teacher!". Others speaking habits are not my business. It makes one appear to be pretentious (which is usually right on!) and superior. Every region has its own colloquialisms which are learned from birth and sound correct to the people using them. After all these years they sound just fine to me too. Unless you are an English teacher or a parent... live and let live.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Penny
Sat Aug 7, 2010 6:20 AM
The surest way for LW1 to drive her "wonderful" new husband to the loony bin (and possibly to a divorce lawyer) is to begin correcting his grammar. There is no "gentle" way to do this. As Matt said, nobody likes a grammar Nazi. People who point out others mistakes come across as know-it-alls and quickly become irritating. Most peoples' egos can't take even the mildest of constructive criticism. The sad fact is that in today's society, poor grammar (and poor manners) are the norm. Furthermore, most people aren't interested in brushing up on their English or putting forth an effort to change. My advice to LW1 is to let it go.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Chris
Sat Aug 7, 2010 6:28 AM
Margo is right, this man is creepy, not only he kisses his daughter on the lips but "he said he will do so until the day he dies" wth? And like that isnt gross enough we have to read in comments how some people think that's great and how they kiss their child, mother and grandmothers on the mouth, I'm sorry but that just made me gag. We all love our family members but for heavens sake we don't have to make out with them to prove that.
Comment: #8
Posted by: jjj
Sat Aug 7, 2010 6:40 AM

This is all I really have to say on the matter of LW1...
Comment: #9
Posted by: Dana
Sat Aug 7, 2010 7:07 AM
Kissing one's child on the lips is a clear boundary violation in this culture. It's a wee bit more than just irksome or being "jealous." (Strange how the charge of jealousy is always trotted out whenever someone has a legitimate objection to a practice or habit that another person doesn't feel like stopping. When I hear that somebody is "just jealous" of something questionable, I always wonder, jealous of what? Ick.) What is even more disturbing is the husband's refusal to stop something that his own wife interprets as inappropriate between parent and child. I would be on the alert for anything else that might be inappropriate between the father and daughter. Not quite a red flag, but a yellow caution flag.
Comment: #10
Posted by: pinetree
Sat Aug 7, 2010 7:30 AM
Actually, I think that "me and him" used as subjects rates as a capital offence. But then, I'm an English teacher. My difficulty is in explaining that every language has a standard, and that educated people should know that standard and have it available to them when needed. (For instance, in a job interview or writing a college application essay.) Whatever awful constructions kids hear and repeat among themselves is their look-out, but I try to make correction an act of humor, if not love. And I do remind them that, like it or not, they WILL be judged by the way they use their own language.
Comment: #11
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Sat Aug 7, 2010 8:51 AM
I am a teacher, but not of English, and correct my husband when he uses constructions such as, "Them people..." but I asked him if he minded. Usually he doesn't.
Comment: #12
Posted by: BB
Sat Aug 7, 2010 11:12 AM
What I find creepy is a wife being jealous of her step-daughter. I am almost 40 and my father still kisses me on the lips. In fact, i was happy to marry into a family where my father-in-law kisses both of his sons - sometimes on the mouth. It told me that my husband was accumstomed to affection and could give our children affection.
Love and affection help grow a healthy child. My parents divorced when I was young. I never doubted my father loved me.
Comment: #13
Posted by: Texas Mom
Sat Aug 7, 2010 12:16 PM
My husband kisses our son-in-law on the lips, and nobody minds; our marriage and our daughter's are both rock solid. For the life of me I can't figure out why some of you posters are creeped out by kissing on the lips unless the kissers are a heterosexual couple who are either married or involved.
Comment: #14
Posted by: Kimiko
Sat Aug 7, 2010 6:38 PM
My only beef on the kissing issue is parents and other relatives who "make" their children kiss certain adults. I feel that kids shouldn't be forced to do that. If they aren't comfortable with it, there are other ways to show affection.
Comment: #15
Posted by: Paul
Sat Aug 7, 2010 7:31 PM
Nothing wrong with a quick peck on the lips with your kids. My sons have been raised that way, nothing sexual about it (they peck male and female relatives). For the person who said it violates OUR cultural, it violates YOUR cultural norms. America is made up of many, many different cultures, with many different values placed on physical demonstrations of affection. LW1, it's hard to believe that you didn't know about this before you married the man. Did you go into this marriage thinking you were going to change your husband? Sorry, doesn't work that way. As for me, if I married a man that thought that my 16 and 19 year old sons pecking me, their aunt , their grandmothers, their great grand mother had sexual overtones, he wouldn't be my husband long. My lips are MINE, and I decide what is done with them (as long as they don't commit adultery).
Comment: #16
Posted by: Kelle
Sun Aug 8, 2010 7:13 AM
I always kiss people on the cheek if they're not my husband, but that's just me. It doesn't bother me if other people do what's comfortable for them. OTOH, my GM would get downright whiny if you didn't kiss her on the lips and that drove me batty.
As for grammar, I am one of those people that's particular about spelling and grammar. I don't correct people, but it does grate on my nerves when people say or write "could of" when it should be "could have". It constantly amazes me how people who seem well educated can't seem to spell correctly to save their life, or maybe they just don't care. Even when I worked as an executive secretary, a decent portion of my job was correcting the spelling of my boss.
Comment: #17
Posted by: Jennifer
Sun Aug 8, 2010 9:22 AM
Paul- totally agree! I had some relatives who used to do that and I hated visiting them b/c of it.
Comment: #18
Posted by: Jennifer
Sun Aug 8, 2010 9:25 AM
I wonder if "Myself and my wife received a letter." or "The dog ran up to myself and my friend." has become "acceptable" usage. I hope not - it raises my hackles whenever I hear this nasty little example of bad grammar!
Comment: #19
Posted by: Linda
Sun Aug 8, 2010 10:56 AM
I had no idea it was controversial to kiss your children on the lips, although I have one friend who doesn't do it because her dentist told her it can tranmit adult bacteria to the child's mouth. In my book it is completely natural loving gesture and I'm not worried about bacteria because it is not as though it is that intimate. Americans over sexualize 'everything and live uptight joyless lives far too often. Our calvinist legacy, I suppose.
Comment: #20
Posted by: PNW Mom
Sun Aug 8, 2010 11:41 AM
I'm disappointed in all those who view this man's display of affection as inappropriate. He's not french kissing her. It's just a peck on the lips. My father kissed all of his children on the lips every night before bed. We also got the occasional hug. It was not in any way inappropriate, it was just how he showed affection. I'm in my forties. My dad still kisses me on the lips when I first arrive for a visit and when I leave to go home. I'm thankful every day that he's still alive to give me kisses.
If this woman is not seeing any other "inappropriate" behavior on dad's part, she needs to back off. The quickest way to develop a poor relationship with her step-daughter is to appear jealous of the relationship with Daddy. Since he isn't doing anything other than giving his daughter a kiss, it does appear to be jealousy. Especially when she compares the kisses between dad and daughter to her marital kisses with him. I find her letter quite petty and uptight.
Comment: #21
Posted by: Kelley
Sun Aug 8, 2010 11:47 AM
Many people kiss their dogs on the mouth as well and let their parrot clean their teeth and consider it amusing but that doesn't mean everybody has to think so too. It is rather weird that her husband insists so strongly to keep kissing his daughter this way (he doesn't want to kiss her on the cheek instead, why not?) LW made a mistake that many women make, she didn't pay attention to these red flags BEFORE she got married
Comment: #22
Posted by: Ana
Sun Aug 8, 2010 1:26 PM
Re: Matt
My favorite is: Where you at?
Comment: #23
Posted by: janet
Sun Aug 8, 2010 4:51 PM
Jennifer, it's great that you agree with me! Don't worry, I won't kiss you for it, though!
Comment: #24
Posted by: Paul
Sun Aug 8, 2010 9:52 PM
the only thing i worry about with kissing children on the lips is transferring "grown up" bacteria. my niece got used to kissing her parents on their lips and soon enough she was kissing everyone on their lips. we eventually weaned her from this habit but i think she caught the flu 4 or 5 times that winter.
Comment: #25
Posted by: Diana Jamal
Sun Aug 8, 2010 10:39 PM
I'm also a stickler for grammar, so to hear that it's now acceptable to use "me and Joe" just because it's commonly used, is very disheartening! BTW, maybe one of these days it'll become acceptable to use text acronyms instead of spelling out the words completely! OMG!
Comment: #26
Posted by: deb
Mon Aug 9, 2010 7:56 AM
LW1 is going SOOO overboard!
Does noone believe in innocence anymore? Like Kelley, my dad kissed both my brother and I on the lips when he tucked us into bed every night. And - OMG - get this - we even slept with him for about 2 weeks after my mom walked out on us! We may have finished growing up in a dysfunctional household, but I remember being tucked in by Dad every night. As for sleeping with Dad - we were three very sad people afraid to be alone. We comforted each other in our greatest time of need.
People are so paranoid about such innocent things that no wonder many kids don't get to experience the true innocence children once had.
Comment: #27
Posted by: ppclps
Mon Aug 9, 2010 10:48 AM
Actually, Deb. "me and Joe" is correct if used as an object - although "me" should go last. "Is there enough room for Joe and me?" is correct. You were probably thinking of them as subjects and yes, that's awful. Another poster said her Dad kissed "my brother and I" on the lips. Did he kiss "I" on the lips? See how easy that is? And since I'm on my soapbox, PLEASE everyone. No more "between you and I"!! (It's between you and me). Okay, I'm done. For now.
Comment: #28
Posted by: Maggie Lawrence
Mon Aug 9, 2010 11:54 AM
I think they only thing here that really needs to be taken from this is that we all grow up different, in different cultures, in different lifestyles - just different.

I kiss my mom on the lips - to this day - and I am 38. And so does my 42 year old brother and my 30 year old brother. It was how we were raised. There is nothing creepy or weird about it. Sorry, I am unable to amuse your dirty little minds with stories of pedophilia or molestation. It is what it is. my family.

I however, do not look down upon - weirdly at, judgmental at - those who choose not to do this. My favortie picture of the son I can no longer be with is the picture of him and I smooching on the lips.

Why can't people just accept that fact that what is DIFFERENT does not always mean it's wrong (or creepy or weird), it's just different.

The End.

Comment: #29
Posted by: Molly B
Mon Aug 9, 2010 4:07 PM
What I find weirdest of all is...
Everyone here has an opinion, however - to call another lifestyle that isn't the very same as your own - CREEPY.
I have kissed my mother and father on the lips since...well since I can remember. I'm 38 years old. I STILL kiss my mom on the lips. As does my 42 year old brother and my 30 year old brother. There is nothing creepy about it - we do not "make out" as someone said. It is simply - affection. So sorry I can't amuse your dirty little minds with stories of pedophilia or molestiation.
What I find sad - is that those who disagree (or rather, agree with the letter writer) is that just because someone was raised in a different manner, they are suddenly wrong or creepy or whatever you want to call it. I'm glad I surround myself with people who know better.
Comment: #30
Posted by: Molly B
Mon Aug 9, 2010 4:14 PM
What I find really "creepy" are catty women that are jealous of all things female in their man's life, from his little girl to his grandmother and every woman in between, including his cat or dog. Some of these women take that cattiness into the workplace and make us all look bad. If you're that insecure get help and quit making everyone else's life miserable because of your jealousy.
Comment: #31
Posted by: Manny
Tue Aug 10, 2010 3:51 PM
JJJ - Ummmm there is a difference between a peck on the lips from your grandmother (one of my grandmothers kisses everyone like that) and making out with someone. I also find the stepmother's attitude about this creepy. Everyone wants a husband who shows affection to their children, but not "too much" or "certain ways."
Comment: #32
Posted by: Liz
Tue Aug 10, 2010 11:38 PM
This woman has some serious issues!! She is jealous of a little girl. It's time to grow up and stop acting like a spoiled child that can't get her own way. I can't imagine any man wanting to put up with that for too long.
Comment: #33
Posted by: Kimberly
Wed Aug 11, 2010 11:38 AM
LW1 -- I am not a big fan of the mouth kissing but only for germ reasons basically. As long as he is not slipping her his tongue it is not a huge big deal. She will tell Daddy to knock it off by age 10 most likely unless she develops some weird daddy fixation. Lady sounds to be very possessive and jealous to boot. My FIL has herpes simplex 1 and gets cold sores, if he kissed any of us on the mouth I'd clobber him one. None of us have that or want it, so just by avoiding mouth kissing our kids, relatives, etc, we will hopefully never get it. My husband is a germaphobe so if any kissing does get done it is on the cheeks around here. We do lots of hugs and some cheek kissing, but by not kissing on the lips/mouth at least reduce our chance of spreading colds, etc.
Comment: #34
Posted by: L
Thu Aug 12, 2010 6:54 AM
I suspect some of the comments on LW1 are dead on here: it's her with the problem, possibly from rushing into a marriage without learning to be a family first. I definitely sense some us vs. them going on, and Stepmom has casted a 5 year old as "them." I do find the husband's objection weird, until I remembered that my husband absolutely refused the song I wanted for our first dance at our reception...not because he didn't like the song, but because I had shut him out of the wedding planning. As soon as I acknowledged this and let him have a hand in picking the rest of the music, he happily gave in on the song. Maybe it's not about he's that attached to kissing his daughter on the lips but that he doesn't appreciate being told how to show affection to his own child that, frankly, she seems to see more as competition for her husband's affection than a member of her family. For children they have together, she has a say. For her children, she sets the rules on what affection is appropriate. For his child that he had before they ever got together, she needs to butt out unless there is a question of possible abuse, which I don't see in her letter.
Comment: #35
Posted by: Nichole
Sun Aug 15, 2010 10:13 AM
when i was of 11
one day i was sitting on the bench one guy came and sit with me
i don't know him
after sometime that guy's friends came and say something in that guys ear
his friends told me that someone is calling you that side
i went there
then that guy that sit beside me stand and said my name is badal what's your name
then i also give my introduction and suddenly his friend push him and she came nearer to me
i was scared and his friend parth came and push me also i was nearer to him also
he said to sit on the bed
i sat then he also sat
then he said i luv u
hearing these i was shocked
he said to his friend to get out of the room
he closed the door
1.he push me
2.i fell on the bed
3.he fell on me

1.he kiss on m bellly,chick.
2.he kiss on my lips
3.he open his shirts button
4.and kisses me
after he gave me his no and i gave my no
then i told these to my parents my parents went to his house and said that our wards luv each other
you want to give your boy's hand to my daughter
his father said yes
i was very happy
then on 7/1/2012 i married
and i luv badal..................
Comment: #36
Posted by: gayatri
Sat Jul 14, 2012 9:06 PM
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