Dear Annie: My problem is my husband's much younger 18-year-old sister. Because there's such an age gap, "Lauren" has always been given whatever she wanted and told that everything she does is wonderful. My husband's parents are only in their mid-50s, but say they're "too old" to be raising a teenager and never discipline her. Lauren steals and lies to her teachers. She told them she had leukemia and needed an operation while she hid out at a friend's house until the school nurse called to inquire about her health.
Unsurprisingly, Lauren didn't get accepted into any of her preferred colleges. I have a teaching position at the local university, and my mother-in-law asked whether I could pull some strings and get Lauren into my school. I honestly don't feel that Lauren reaches the caliber of student my department requires. I told my mother-in-law as gently as I could that Lauren needs to stand on her own two feet and learn how to do things for herself. I offered to help her submit a college application and said I would take her to meet with the registrar, but that's as far as I would go.
My mother-in-law got very upset and asked me to leave. She then called my husband at work and told him what a mistake he made when he married me and how I'm ruining the family. This phone call was followed by one from his brother, who said if I don't help Lauren, I'm no longer a member of their family. Then his wife phoned and called me names. A few weeks later, we were invited to a family cookout, and they acted like nothing happened.
I know I did the right thing, and I'm not giving in. My husband says to let it go, but I want an apology. Am I wrong in asking for one? — N.Y. Wife
Dear N.Y.: You are not wrong, but asking for an apology from these people is not going to improve family relations. Let it go. It does not benefit Lauren to have so little discipline and direction, and her parents are both lazy and negligent in their parenting. Suggest to Lauren that she apply to community college. It will give her time to get her act together while providing a decent education and college experience that she can parlay into a four-year university program if she does well.
Dear Annie: My husband and I are both retired. We are comfortable, but by no means wealthy. Our daughter, divorced for several years, is marrying a successful businessman who drives a fancy car and owns two homes and a boat. Money is not an issue for them.
What do we give them as a wedding gift? We want it to be meaningful, but due to our limited income, we can't afford anything lavish. And it doesn't help that they already have everything they need. Any suggestions? — Baffled
Dear Baffled: Don't think in terms of the price. Perhaps you have a cherished family photograph that you could put in an engraved frame. Meaningful gifts can include a bottle of champagne with two engraved glasses, a gift card to a spa, a romantic basket of chocolates or a "gift certificate" for a week of home-cooked meals. You could even write a letter expressing how much your daughter means to you and how happy you are that she has married such a wonderful man.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Becoming Resentful," whose fiance spends more time with his ex-wife and teenage kids than with her and her son. Here's some advice that I recently was given: Never make someone a priority in your life who makes you an option in theirs.
I only wish I had heard this years ago, but I surely will follow that advice from now on. — Not Resentful in Roanoke, Va.
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2012. 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.