Posted: Monday, October 13, 2008 9:06 pm
Dear Annie: My son, “Quentin,” has always had a problem telling the truth. It started in kindergarten and became worse over time. He’s a grown man now and will lie about anything from what he was doing an hour ago to whether he lost his job.
Quentin had an affair during his first marriage and when his wife forgave him, he did it again. He has two children from that marriage whom he refuses to see. He says their mother insisted he stay away and threatened to have him arrested if he tried to visit, but I know that’s not true. The only plausible reason he could be arrested is if he’s behind on his child support.
Quentin remarried and his second wife lies just as much as he does. Neither of them can keep a job and now they have a child together and another on the way.
How can I help Quentin see what he is doing to himself and his children? How do I get him to stop lying? I took him to counseling when he was a child, but the therapist simply said Quentin had an active imagination and would grow out of it.
I can’t afford therapy and am uncomfortable discussing this with my pastor. I believe an intervention might help, but I doubt I could get my husband or the rest of the family to participate because they won’t even speak to Quentin. What is a worried mother to do? — Worried Mom
Dear Mom: Quentin must recognize the negative impact of his lies and want to stop. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case, which means nothing you do is likely to make a difference in his behavior, especially since his wife will undercut your efforts. Right now, the only person who will benefit from counseling is you.
Contact the United Way, YMCA, local hospitals, university psychology departments and graduate school counseling departments, the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (aapc.org), 9504A Lee Highway, Fairfax, VA 22031-2303; and the American Counseling Association (counseling.org) at 1-800-347-6647.
Dear Annie: I live in a neighborhood full of children of all ages and various parenting styles ranging from strict to laid-back. All the children play together frequently. My girls are the youngest of the bunch, just 3 and 10 months, and my husband and I find ourselves supervising the children more than the other parents.
Is it appropriate for us to tell someone else’s child to stop behaving a certain way if the child’s parents won’t do it? We feel if their actions involve our children, house, pets or property, we have a right to step in. In return, they have a right to say something if our daughter misbehaves in a way that affects them.
We know not everyone thinks as we do and find ourselves constantly treading a fine line to keep things safe without offending other parents. What do you think? — Supervising Parents
Dear Parents: It is always best for parents to discipline their own children, but if your neighbors are unwilling to do so, you may step in. In fact, some of them may prefer that you take responsibility for monitoring the action. You should not lay hands on another person’s child unless it is an emergency situation (i.e., the child is running into traffic). You may, however, tell a child to cease and desist inappropriate behavior if the parents won’t bother to get involved.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Scared Mother,” who thinks her daughter is shoplifting because she has found expensive items in her room.
Maybe Mom should be worried about some adult buying this stuff for her daughter. In high school, I had friends who would meet these much older guys who would try to “buy” them for sex, nude photographs and other things. — Just a Thought in California
Dear California: Thanks for pointing out that alarming possibility. We hope “Scared Mother” will talk to her daughter and find out what’s really going on.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, 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 10.13.08