Posted: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: I haven’t seen my in-laws since we moved across the country three years ago. They are coming in May for a two-week visit and staying in our home with us and our six children.
When we lived closer, the grandparents insisted on taking our oldest children on excursions, but then they would ignore them, neglect to feed them or sometimes forget they were along. One child got lost — twice — at a large city festival. When the police brought him back, his grandparents hadn’t noticed he was missing.
These grandparents also don’t communicate well. Nearly every day they get into arguments that end in swearing and giving each other the silent treatment for hours. My children hate being with them. When we moved away, we could claim conflicting schedules to avoid the outings. Now the grandparents insist that during their visit they take each child somewhere to “get to know them better” since they haven’t seen them for so long. Their health and age may make this their last visit, so they’re pouring on the guilt.
The older children can manage now, but they are warning their younger siblings not to go anywhere with the grandparents. My husband, who has a selective memory and is an eternal optimist, wants to give them another chance. However, cousins who live near them say they’ve only gotten worse.
My husband and I must work and won’t be able to supervise every minute. How do we discourage these outings without offending them? (And they are easily offended.) — Dreading the In-Laws
Dear Dreading: Inform the in-laws that you will not permit the younger children to take individual outings. An older sibling must accompany them. Then instruct your children not to go anywhere with Grandma and Grandpa without your permission. No exceptions for any reason. If the in-laws are offended, so be it. Your children’s welfare must come first.
Dear Annie: I am having trouble with my boyfriend, “Michael.” I’m in the ninth grade and he’s in the eighth. We’ve been going out since November, and a few days ago he asked me to kiss him. The next day he confessed that he thinks he’s too young for kissing.
Annie, to be honest, I was nervous when he asked me to kiss him because it was my first kiss, as well, and it wasn’t exactly the best. I’d never admit that to him, though.
I’m confused. If he thought he was too young, why did he ask me to kiss him? Please don’t judge us. I just want straight advice. — In Love in California
Dear In Love: Why did you kiss him? Because you wanted to try it and you like him. He probably felt the same way. But afterward, he may have gotten a bit anxious about where it could lead and decided he wasn’t ready. That was wise. When you aren’t sure about these things, it’s best not to do them. Or, it’s possible he felt that he disappointed you, in which case, he may ask again when he gathers the courage.
Dear Annie: “Happy American Bachelor,” who got dumped after a date or two, reminds me of my friend’s brother. He whined about how girls didn’t like him because he was “too nice.” Well, he was nice when it benefited him. He only wanted to date pretty girls and made jokes about unattractive ones. He was cheap, and if he splurged to impress a girl, he expected a sexual return on his investment. He was marginally handsome and had a good job, but once you spent any time with him, you realized his character was severely lacking.
He is still alone and can’t figure out why. There are men who can’t find dates because of some flaws, but niceness is not usually one of them. — Just a Thought
Dear Just: This is why we suggest that dateless people ask their best friends and closest relatives to critique them. There are times when one needs to hear that brutal honesty.
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 3.25.09