Dear Annie: I am 16 years old, and my mother just saw fit to tell me that the man I thought was my father is actually my stepfather. Now, to understand my dilemma, you also have to realize that my real dad never did anything nasty to my mom. She’s just bitter for getting pregnant when she was young. However, my stepfather is about the worst man I’ve ever met.
He’s selfish and abusive, but really only to me, not to the daughter he had with my mother. So my question is, shouldn’t I be allowed to know my biological father? I’m told he lives in the same city, and I’ve never even seen a picture of him.
This shouldn’t be my mother’s decision, and it has nothing to do with her husband. I think it’s my right to meet my father if I want to, isn’t it? — Sick of Being Fatherless in Louisville, Ky.
Dear Louisville: We know this information must be difficult to process, and the problems you are having with your stepfather make it more complicated. First, understand that your biological father might not be the savior you think he is. He may have abandoned your mother when she was pregnant. He may have another family and no interest in a relationship with you. If you think he is going to “rescue” you from your current situation, you could be very disappointed. Second, if your stepfather is abusive, he should be reported to the authorities.
You cannot force your mother to give you information if she is unwilling. You may have better luck if you approach it with less hostility. Please discuss this with a trusted adult — perhaps your school counselor, a relative or a close family friend, and ask them to intercede for you.
Dear Annie: I have a problem with my 56-year-old daughter, “Marylou.” She lives out of state, but we call each other every weekend and are very close. I confide in her a lot. However, I made the mistake of telling her how much money I have in a savings account. Now she wants some of it as part of her inheritance. When I declined, she hung up during our conversation.
My husband and I are over 75 and retired. Do you think I should give in? — Simi Valley, Calif.
Dear Simi Valley: We don’t like the way Marylou is punishing you over money. It’s petty and greedy, and it is tempting to write her off completely. But we also know you love her and don’t want the relationship to suffer. We assume you are planning to give Marylou an inheritance anyway. If you need the money in this savings account for yourself and your husband, you should not promise it to anyone.
You can, however, assuage Marylou by telling her that whatever is left will go into your estate and be distributed to your heirs, meaning she would get some as part of her inheritance (whether she deserves it or not).
Dear Annie: This is for “Losing Myself in Louisiana,” the woman who let herself go because her husband is continually involved with porn and it makes her feel worthless.
Her husband is a sex addict. I know because I lived with one for years. She needs to realize that a sex addict can also be having sexual relationships outside of marriage that could be putting her health in serious jeopardy. Please encourage her to be tested for HIV.
After I gave my husband too many chances, I had to leave him. I am happier, disease-free and amazed at how much my self-worth has gone up. There is a lot of literature on the subject at the library and online, and I also recommend she contact Sex Addicts Anonymous (saa-recovery.org) for her husband. — Carol in Rockford
Dear Carol: Thanks for the suggestion. We also recommend COSA (cosa-recovery.org) for you and any spouse of a sex addict. The address is P.O. Box 14537, Minneapolis, MN 55414.
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 on 11.05.07