Posted: Friday, October 10, 2008 8:19 pm
Dear Annie: I go to college far from home, so the little time I spend with my family is very precious to me. However, each time I come back there seems to be a larger and larger space between my parents, who have been married nearly 30 years. When I’m with Mom, she says excessively critical things about Dad. When I’m with Dad, he says disrespectful things about Mom.
I am aware that things are currently difficult for them with the state of the economy, their aging parents and everyone’s busy schedules. Every couple goes through trying times. I respect my parents very much and understand they have their issues, but when they confide their problems to me, it causes a good deal of anxiety and leaves a tense, negative attitude hanging over our house.
I worry their arguing and silent treatments are affecting my younger brother. At least I can escape to college. Should I suggest they enter counseling? Should I seek therapy on my own? — Scared in the Middle
Dear Scared: You are obviously a smart and caring daughter, but your parents should not put you in the middle of their disputes. Tell them their confidences disturb and worry you, and if they are having trouble, they should seek professional help because it is inappropriate for them to unburden themselves to their children. You should also point out that their criticisms and arguments are probably having a negative effect on your brother. If you spell it out in plain language, perhaps they will realize how damaging their behavior is and shape up.
Dear Annie: I recently met a man I really might be interested in dating seriously. He is very nice looking — until he smiles. He has black areas between several front teeth and along the gum lines. It looks awful. He must be aware of this, as I am sure he brushes his teeth every day, but I hate when he grins at me. Should I just come out and tell him how I feel? — Arizona
Dear Arizona: Don’t make assumptions about his dental hygiene. He may have a phobia that prevents him from taking proper care of his teeth. Or he may have a medical condition. You may as well ask him about it because, otherwise, you will stop seeing him and he will never know why. Please don’t tell him how it makes you feel. Simply ask if he has spoken to his dentist about the discolorations and see what he says.
Dear Annie: I read the responses to “Not an Enabler.” I can’t believe the ignorance of those who think all homeless people want to remain that way.
I volunteer at a soup kitchen and these people are an inspiration. Although they have no place to call home, they make the best of their situation. One fellow worked 40 hours pulling weeds in the hot sun at a local church only to be told if he wanted to get paid, he would have to submit a work sheet to the church council. These people volunteer to do laundry at the shelter (a filthy job) in an attempt to pay back a little something for the food they eat and the used clothes they wear. And most of them, when they cannot get day labor, are reading their Bibles.
To your reader from Texas who said, “God helps those who help themselves,” I say God is certainly helping by putting people in their path who don’t turn their backs on those in need. “Not an Enabler” and others like her should step outside their safe little bubbles and volunteer at a homeless shelter to see what’s going on in this world before putting these people down. Maybe they can change someone’s life for the better. There are many angels dressed in rags. — One Who Cares
Dear One: And many angels who care for them. Bless you for writing and for the compassionate work you do.
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 10.10.08