Dear Annie: A year ago, my daughter met a man over the Internet. That's fine, but I have the following issues:
1. She wants to marry him without actually having met him in person.
2. He is from a foreign country where the customs are vastly different from ours.
3. I worry that he will take advantage of her just to remain in this country.
My daughter says I am concerned for no reason. She is 30 years old and has lived in a small town most of her life. How do I deal with this appropriately? — Unsure Mom
Dear Mom: All of your issues are valid and worth discussing. However, your daughter is 30 years old. If she chooses to go into marriage without meeting the man or learning more about him and his culture, there's not much you can do to stop her. Stay neutral. Suggest that he come for a visit, saying you are eager to meet him and want to give them an engagement party. Then do so. We hope he is everything she dreams of because the downside is rather unpleasant to contemplate.
Dear Annie: Is it acceptable for kids to send thank-you notes via email?
I was brought up in a more traditional way, where thank-you notes were always handwritten. Of course, back then, emails were not an option. Frankly, I think any thank you is better than no thank you, and getting my kids to sit down and write notes by hand takes forever, and I'd like them sent in a timely fashion.
I'm sure my kids would be more willing to send a quick note via email, but I'm conflicted as to whether that's acceptable or not. — Mom in Connecticut
Dear Mom: Good news! Yes, email thank-you notes are acceptable, especially if that is the best you're going to get. Please make sure your children understand that the note still has to be appropriate and appreciative. But we also hope you will continue to demonstrate to your children how much nicer it is to receive a personal handwritten note. This should not be a dying art.
Dear Annie: "Upstate New York" wrote that their teenage babysitter drove his kids to a local ice cream place without permission. He fired her with payment, the girl's mother got involved, and now they aren't speaking.
I am a retired New York state trooper. In this state, it is illegal for a newly licensed 17-year-old to drive younger children without a parent in the car. Many states now have a type of "graduated licensing," whereby as teens age and gain experience, they are allowed to have more people in the car.
This babysitter made a conscious choice to drive those children without permission from the parents. I am positive the parents would have said "no" to this little trip. Instead, this devious girl put the children at risk. If there had been an accident, not only would the teen face charges, but her parents might have been held legally liable because she drove their car.
Several years ago, a young babysitter and her boyfriend loaded two young children into her car without the mother's permission. They went for a ride on some backcountry roads where there had been recent flooding. Part of the road gave way, and the car plunged down a culvert into the river. Everyone in the car was killed.
Upstate doesn't owe that girl any money. She and her mother owe the kids' family an apology and should be grateful he didn't report her to the police. We need to be vigilant when it comes to the safety of children. — Retired NYSP
Dear Retired: We are in agreement that the girl was clearly in the wrong. However, we don't believe she was being devious. We think she is immature and showed extremely poor judgment. We are thankful no one was hurt.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], 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 www.creators.com.