Dear Annie: I recently got married and started my first real job since graduating college. The problem is, I am 25 years old and my parents still treat me as if I am under their supervision. They constantly offer my husband and me money, because they think we can't afford things without their help (not true).
My mother is sad because I am the last one out of the house and she and my father don't like to spend a lot of time alone together. They always want to come over and see me. Frankly, I'd rather spend what little time I have with my husband.
I love my parents very much, but this is getting annoying. How can I tell them to back off without hurting their feelings? — Worcester, Mass.
Dear Worcester: You are going to hurt their feelings a little, but it can't be helped. If you want to assert your independence, you will have to make yourself less available to your parents while politely refusing their financial assistance.
If the folks try to drop by too frequently, tell them, "I wish we could visit, but this isn't a good time." When they offer money, say, "Thanks so much, but we can manage on our own." It won't stop them from asking, but they will learn to take "no" for an answer. Meanwhile, help your parents adjust by calling to see how they are doing, and dropping by for a visit now and then. It also will make them feel needed if you periodically ask for their advice. You don't, of course, have to follow it.
Dear Annie: I am a 14-year-old girl, and I have a question.
My parents have always told me a guy finds a girl more attractive if she's not wearing a bunch of makeup. But to me, the only way I can look good is if I put on a fair amount.
So what's the truth? Do guys really like it better if a girl is wearing little or no makeup? — Want To Look Pretty
Dear Pretty: The truth is, most guys prefer girls who don't LOOK made-up. That means, keep things to a minimum. At your age, a little tinted lip gloss and mascara goes a long way. If you overdo it, you look cheap and guys think you are trying too hard. You can add to your makeup as you get older, if you need to.
The most important thing is to take good care of your skin. We know it doesn't seem that crucial now, but trust us, a clean, healthy complexion is always attractive, and in a few years, you'll be glad you paid attention to it.
Dear Annie: My ex-husband and I have been divorced for five years. We have two young children who divide their week between us. Our children have wonderful, close and loving relationships with both of us, in no small part because my ex and I are friendly and supportive of one another, and we are welcoming to each other's significant others.
For the past four years, we've spent holidays together as a big extended family and include whatever members of his family and mine are in town, along with our current boyfriends, girlfriends and members of their families. We co-host birthday parties for the children and include each other in special events. We do it for our children, but also because we understand how it feels to miss out on something.
We've recently encountered a handful of people who are unabashedly intent on making us stop sharing events. It somehow offends them. I am stunned we need to defend ourselves for creating a healthy environment for our children in spite of the failure of our marriage. What can we say to them? — Stunned and Struggling in Florida
Dear Stunned: You reply enthusiastically, "I'm so grateful we are able to put our children's needs first. It's a shame so many parents won't."
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2005. 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.