Posted: Monday, February 23, 2009 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: My 10th-grader, “Katie,” is switching to a different high school in two weeks. The other day, my son mentioned that his friend’s sister spread a bad rumor about Katie at the new school. Of course, Katie is quite upset. She was friends with this girl, although they haven’t hung out together in a few months. We really don’t understand why the girl spread the rumor.
Do I call the girl’s mother and ask her to have her daughter clear the air at school? Should I let sleeping dogs lie for fear of retaliation and further damage to my daughter’s reputation?
Katie is in tears over this. It’s hard enough being 15 and switching schools midyear. But starting off as the new kid with a bad reputation is more than she can take. I realize teenage girls can be quite nasty and I can’t protect my daughter from everything, but this is unacceptable. Please help. — Saddened Mother in Massachusetts
Dear Mother: Katie needs to hold her head up high, and you need to speak to the school principal and explain the problem. The girl who spread the gossip may be jealous of Katie or she may have been looking for attention, but the school should have a policy in place regarding bullying and this falls under that category. If Katie knows any other kids at the new school, she should discuss this frankly with them and ask for their assistance in dispelling these nasty rumors.
Dear Annie: I have been married to “Ted” for 25 years and most have been OK. The main problem is that Ted has obsessive-compulsive disorder. He refuses to take medication for his OCD and it’s driving me crazy. We have five high-maintenance children, and when he cannot control their every move, he treats them terribly.
I feel I am being a bad mother if I stay with him. He is very mean and makes all of us feel like losers. My two oldest daughters don’t want to be around their father at all. We have been to counseling, but Ted only goes when he knows I am ready to walk out.
I do not have a very good support system if I leave him, so please tell me how to deal with this before my three younger children grow up dysfunctional. — Tired of Being in the Middle in Pennsylvania
Dear Tired: Ted won’t admit he has a problem and that makes him unwilling to get help. The fact that he responds when you threaten to leave, however, means you do have some influence over his choices. Contact the Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation (ocfoundation.org), P.O. Box 961029, Boston, MA 02196, and ask for assistance. And if he won’t go with you for counseling, go without him.
Dear Annie: This is for “Not Her Twin in Tennessee,” who objected when people said she looked like her sister. This lady needs to pull up her big girl panties and get a life. No one on the planet takes the time to tell another person how much they resemble a relative unless it is meant as a compliment.
When I was young, folks always told me how much I looked like my mother. I made a disapproving face in response, as I saw myself as so young and my mother as so old. One day, Mom took me aside and told me it would be polite to smile and thank the person for the compliment. From then on, I did as she suggested. It made me look respectful and mature, and it made my mother proud.
My beautiful mother passed away three years ago from Alzheimer’s, and I carry her face around with me everywhere I go. And it’s a beautiful face. — Look Like Becky in Wyoming
Dear Look Like Becky: How sweet that you learned to see the positive in these comments.
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 2.23.09