Posted: Monday, March 16, 2009 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: I have been married for six years and have a 16-year-old stepdaughter. (She actually looks 18.) “Maureen” is quite emotionally immature. She won’t try new things or socialize for fear of failure and the off chance that someone might make fun of her.
Maureen has always been close to her father, but lately she seems increasingly dependent on him in unfamiliar social situations. She will sit on his lap, snuggle her face into his arm, hang from his shoulders and practically lie on top of him. It is extremely embarrassing, and I can’t imagine what other people think. I worry someone will hot-line my husband for what appears to be inappropriate contact with his daughter. (I know for certain there isn’t.)
When I was 16, I did not have the urge to sit on my father’s lap when there were boys my own age to think about. The situation is starting to affect how I feel about my husband. He’s just as guilty for allowing this behavior to continue. I have tried to be nice about it, telling Maureen, “I will get you a chair of your own.” I have even said, “Please sit up and give your dad some space.” My comments are consistently ignored. So am I overreacting, or is this an unhealthy codependent relationship? — Stepmom in the Middle
Dear Stepmom: Stop talking to Maureen about this and talk to your husband. He has to understand that permitting such dependence is not healthy for his daughter and stifles her ability to mature. He is the only one who can discourage the constant physical and emotional neediness and teach her to replace it with something more appropriate. A truly loving father helps his child become independent, even if that requires a lot of work and causes some discomfort. If he doesn’t know how to do it, suggest family counseling.
Dear Annie: My husband and I read your column every morning at breakfast. I told him I was going to write and ask what you think of something he does. I want him to see himself in print. He said, “They probably won’t even address it because all men do it.”
The problem is that he lets out “fluffies” at the table all the time. He just leans over and lets it rip. It upsets me, and nothing I say and no amount of arguing about it helps. I’ve told him it makes me see him differently, that he becomes less attractive, that I feel disrespected and it turns me off. He said his father was the same way and I “don’t have a sense of humor.”
I think passing gas at the table is rude and obnoxious. I really hate it and am at my wits’ end. Am I being too critical? — Stunk Out, Turned Off and Not Laughing
Dear Stunk Out: No. This is extremely rude, but he’s not likely to stop unless there are consequences that matter to him. You can check if anything in his diet is creating excessive gas, and you should leave the room if he becomes too offensive. If it turns you off, you can certainly make that an issue he will understand. But otherwise, be thankful he doesn’t do it in front of company.
Dear Annie: This is in response to all the letters about women who can’t find appropriate clothing. I am a 62-year-old “baby boomer” and have not been able to find a good-fitting pair of jeans except at the thrift stores. Believe me, ladies our age, with our figures, do not want low-riding jeans. And because we are still fashion conscious, we do not want pull-up elastic waists, either.
Here’s my solution regarding short-sleeve tops that expose the least attractive part of the arm. I buy men’s shirts and customize them with small shoulder pads. I take them in at the waist if needed. They look great. — Not An “Old Granny” in California
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 3.16.09