Posted: Tuesday, August 5, 2008 9:21 pm
Dear Annie: My mother recently married a nice man. Unfortunately, my new stepbrother isn’t so nice.
I’m 18 and “Chuck” is 16. While my mother was dating my stepfather, Chuck and I got along pretty well. Once they married, however, he began treating me with resentment. He started by mouthing off. Now things are out of hand. He puts loose change in my drinks, bumps into me when we pass each other and started a rumor in school that I have herpes. The last straw was when he put feces in my bed.
My mom and stepfather think Chuck is a saint, and I’m scared to tell them what he’s doing because they’ll think I’m lying. I don’t want to start a fight between them and ruin their marriage, but I’m at the end of my rope. What do I do? — Terrorized Brother
Dear Brother: Chuck apparently is having a hard time adjusting to the change in his status as an only child. Tell your parents what Chuck has been doing. Say you want to get along with him and suggest family counseling to help all of you adapt better. In the meantime, don’t react to Chuck’s provocations. Avoid being alone with him. Put a lock on your bedroom door. Do whatever you can to minimize contact until he matures enough to stop acting like a spoiled brat. And when you graduate, make plans to go away to college or move into your own apartment.
Dear Annie: Last summer, my husband and I went on a vacation with “Kevin and Renee.” Renee insisted on taking pictures of everything, which was irritating. She also wanted to see attractions no one else cared about. Once, we got lost looking for a place only she was interested in. When we decided to skip it, she pouted. By the last day, Renee barely spoke to us.
Since then, she’s snubbed me. I finally cornered her and asked what was going on. She said I hurt her feelings over the picture taking. I thought she was being childish, but I apologized anyway and asked for forgiveness. She said she forgave me, but our relationship hasn’t been the same. She still ignores me and now I no longer bother to say hello when I pass by.
Renee has had problems with other women in the past. She also gets hurt easily and holds grudges forever. Our husbands used to be great friends, but now there is a strain on that relationship, too. My husband still calls Kevin, but the calls aren’t returned. Should we continue to work on this or just let them go? — Perplexed in the South
Dear Perplexed: You hurt Renee’s feelings. However, once you apologized, that should have been the end of it. It’s obvious that you don’t much care for Renee and the feeling is mutual. That friendship is over. However, you should encourage your husband to try again with Kevin.
Dear Annie: Two years ago, my husband and I were in the same position as “Old, Stupid and Tired.” Our daughter, her husband and their two children were living with us. Both parents were capable of working but were too lazy to find jobs.
Finally, I told them we were moving and they had to find other arrangements. I promised my grandchildren that if I ever found out they were living in their car, I would come and get them. We moved out six months later, and they moved out when the utilities were shut off.
It took my son-in-law another 10 months to find a job (they lived with his mother), but they now have their own place. Yes, it was hard, and I cried myself to sleep many nights. But tough love worked and we are all happier now. And after one year, our doctors noticed an immense improvement in our health. — Been There
Dear Been There: Although moving isn’t feasible for everyone, we’re happy this worked for you and agree that sometimes tough love is the only way out.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. 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.
Published in The Messenger 8.5.08