Posted: Thursday, October 16, 2008 9:06 pm
Dear Annie: I’ve been married 10 years and have two beautiful children and one meddling mother-in-law. “Jan” sometimes displays bizarre behavior that makes me worry about my children’s safety.
When our son was 5 weeks old, Jan begged us to let her have the baby overnight. Before leaving her house, I told her I would change the baby’s diaper, and Jan handed me some kitchen wipes that had bleach in them. They would have left chemical burns on our son. Jan insisted she bought those by mistake and I believed her.
Several months ago, Jan let my 5-year-old son watch a very graphic crime show. For weeks, he thought everyone was going to be shot in the head. We had to put him in counseling. Two months ago, without our permission, she let him ride an ATV without a helmet.
The final straw was last week. Jan styles hair professionally, although not to my taste. When she’s asked to trim my children’s hair, I have always told her “no.” Over the weekend, my children stayed at Jan’s home and my daughter came home with uneven bangs and the back chopped off. It was hideous. My husband was so embarrassed, he told everyone our daughter tried to cut it herself. Jan played dumb, saying she didn’t realize I would object.
It is obvious Jan cannot make intelligent decisions about my children. I don’t know if she is using the children as a way to get back at me, or if she has mental health issues. Is it unreasonable to ask that she see my children only at my home, in my presence? — Completely Irritated in Indiana
Dear Indiana: Of course not. It would be irresponsible of you to keep allowing Jan to baby-sit when she obviously does not respect your authority as a parent. The hair will grow back, but the ATV ride and the bleach-based wipes indicate Jan cannot be trusted with your children’s welfare. If you think there is something medically wrong, suggest she be evaluated by a professional. Either way, make sure your husband backs you up.
Dear Annie: My son plays on a traveling baseball team and four of the dads are also coaches. Their four sons always play every inning regardless of their attendance at practice or how many times they strike out or make fielding errors.
My son is very aware of the favoritism and I’m constantly apologizing for their behavior. I know I can’t change what’s happening, but I’m hoping other coaches might read your column and evaluate whether they are fair to all the players on the team. There isn’t another league for our son, so we try and keep a positive approach to the situation. Is there anything else I can do? — On the Bench Again
Dear On the Bench: Have you spoken to these coaches, nicely, and told them their favoritism is creating resentment? Would other parents go with you to talk to them? Are there additional coaches who are more impartial and would act as intermediaries?
Teach your son that although life isn’t always fair, playing his best and being a good sport and supportive teammate are what count.
Dear Annie: I laughed at your response to “Not Really Married,” the gentleman lamenting his 50 years of marriage, the past 20 without sex. This isn’t a “bad spell.” This guy is either a saint or the most self-sacrificing person I can imagine.
What about counseling for him? Perhaps a good counselor can advise him on how best to live the rest of his life, the quality of which is questionable. — Been There and I Am an Idiot No More
Dear Idiot: Really? Sex is the only thing that counts? The rest is irrelevant and his wife is worthless? Sex is an important part of a healthy marriage, but it shouldn’t define the entire relationship. If they had 30 good years together before the last 20, that should mean something. But counseling is an excellent idea for anyone who needs help seeing the bigger picture.
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 10.16.08