Dear Annie: My fiance and I have been together for three years. "Justin" shares custody of his 13-year-old daughter, "Chrissie."
The problem is, Chrissie will not sleep in her own bed. Until recently, she used to sleep on the floor in our room, but two months ago, Justin started sleeping in her bed. I couldn't take it, so I went back to live at my place. Now that I am no longer in Justin's house, Chrissie sleeps with him in his bed. This bothers me.
Justin and his ex-wife tried sending Chrissie for therapy, but she told them it wasn't working, so they stopped. We have discussed this, but he continues to allow her in his bed. He doesn't believe there is anything wrong with it and also says he doesn't know what else to do. Chrissie is quite manipulative, conniving and sly. Even her hugs are fake. She is obviously competing with me for her father's attention.
I feel guilty not liking this girl. I understand that divorce is hard on children, but this is ridiculous. — Soon-To-Be Stepmom
Dear Soon: Chrissie may be manipulating her parents out of insecurity and because she can get away with it. But her parents are the real problem. They are allowing Chrissie to control the family dynamic. This is terribly unfair to everyone, but especially to Chrissie. She desperately needs her parents to be in charge, and instead, they have given her the reins. All of them should be in family counseling together so that Chrissie cannot claim it's "not working," and so that Justin and his ex understand how much effort and consistency are required for their daughter's sake. If you intend to marry Justin, insist on this.
Dear Annie: I read your answer to "Grandma-To-Be" regarding a baby shower for a child born of a surrogate. Why did you say, "Of course, it is better if the shower is given by friends and not immediate family"? I thought baby showers were supposed to be given by the aunts. Has this changed?
Also, what about "sprinkles" — those baby showers for second and third kids? This is a very sore subject for those of us who have been on the receiving end of the invitations. Unless there are several years between babies, or the new baby is from a different marriage, it is asking too much of friends and family.
Today's generation thinks nothing of asking people to dish out money over and over. What a greedy world we have become. — Also a Grandma-To-Be
Dear Also: Baby showers (also bridal showers) generally should not be given by immediate family members, because they, too, benefit from others giving gifts. Hosting it then seems self-serving. (There are exceptions to this rule.) Aunts, cousins, sisters-in-law, etc., however, are not immediate family and, of course, can host showers.
"Sprinkles" are fine if there is a big age gap and the new baby has fewer hand-me-downs, or if the couple has moved to a new city. Otherwise, they are OK only for close family and extremely close friends, or for those who didn't attend a previous shower. As you said, it is unkind to keep burdening the same people with gift-giving over and over.
Dear Annie: In my 70 years of living in New Orleans, I've been called honey, sweetie, sugar and baby by clerks and waitresses, always with a helpful air of appreciation and never in a condescending way. Maybe it's a southern thing, but I like it. Why would I be rude to someone who is focused on helping me? I hope that charm never goes away. — Happy in NOLA
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.