Posted: Tuesday, July 28, 2009 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: My 14-year-old daughter, “Sara,” thinks she’s in love with a controlling boyfriend who is two years older. In the past six months, she’s become a different child. She recently informed me that she and the boyfriend are having sex.
Sara has a wonderful group of girlfriends who are equally concerned, but most have given up on her. They told me they are not allowed to hang out with Sara anymore. The Boyfriend tells her who her friends can be, where she can go and when, which, by the way, is apparently never.
Sara stays in her room when she’s not with The Boyfriend. I’ve tried talking to her, insisting that she get out more, but she only wants to be with him and begs me to drive her to his house. I’ve said he can come to our home, but he won’t. He claims we hate him, so he hates us, too. I’ve recently even received notes from him, accusing me of not loving Sara as much as he does. He says I am a horrible mother.
The more I try to keep him away, the more she clings to him. Sara says his family loves her and wants her to live with them. When a friend died recently, Sara began seeing a counselor and I have updated him about these new developments. But I’m concerned she will persuade the counselor that we are just too strict. What can I do? — Worried Mom
Dear Mom: A boy who convinces his girlfriend that her family doesn’t treat her right, then isolates her from her friends and controls her activities is a potential abuser. Many young girls mistake possessiveness and jealousy for love. A competent counselor will recognize this pattern, and you should call and make sure he understands the reasons behind your concerns. In the meantime, tell Sara every day that you love her, that she’s a smart, capable, terrific person, and that you will always be there when she needs you.
Dear Annie: Many years ago, I broke up with my high school sweetheart and hurt her badly. I have wanted to apologize for a long time. Another class reunion has passed without her attending, and I feel the need to make amends. I know she felt bitter toward me after our breakup, and understandably so. I wasn’t very nice.
Both of us are now married and have children. Is it appropriate for me to write and express regret for my past actions? I don’t want to open old wounds, but I would like her to know how sorry I am for the pain I caused her. What is the best way to do this? — Past Blues in Tennessee
Dear Tennessee: Talk to your wife first. Explain that you feel remorseful and ask whether it would be OK if you wrote a letter of apology to this old girlfriend. We assume you have no other agenda and simply want to clean the slate. If your wife asks you not to do this, however, please respect her choice and leave things alone.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Walking on Eggshells,” who is dating a woman whose grown daughters refuse to accept him.
My first husband died after 46 years of a very happy marriage. When I married “Dan,” my grown son and daughter were suspicious. My son ran a credit check on him even though Dan had twice as much money as I did. My daughter attended our wedding unwillingly and left immediately after the ceremony. Their paternal grandparents were very rude to us.
I told all of them that if they didn’t start showing respect to my husband, they would never see me again. That threat stopped the nastiness. When they finally got to know my darling, they realized what a wonderful person he was. “Walking’s” girlfriend must insist, as I did, that this man deserves their respect if they value their mother’s happiness. — Boston
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.
Published in The Messenger 7.28.09