Dear Annie: I have been dating a wonderful man for about four years. “Sam” treats me with respect and is very caring, but he never pays his bills on time. He has a great job, but several times in the past I have had to bail him out. He will pay a portion of his bills and leave the rest to be added on to the next monthly statement. Once, he didn’t have enough money to pay his rent, so I assisted. He always pays me back, but that is not the point. Sam’s mother was evicted from her apartment because she didn’t pay her rent. She now lives with him. She has a good job, but spends all her spare time at a casino. No one is willing to say she has a gambling problem and this might be why she is homeless.
I cannot consider a future with Sam unless he can handle his money better. I don’t want to be a fall-back person for someone who is financially irresponsible. What do you say? — Wondering in the World
Dear Wondering: Sam apparently learned his fiscal habits from his mother. It’s possible he can be taught to be more responsible, but he must understand it’s a problem that requires work. He can find a financial counselor through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (nfcc.org or 1-800-388-2227) to help him set up a budget and see if he can live within his means. Give him the chance to improve the situation before you make any decisions about your future.
Dear Annie: My 16-year-old granddaughter, “Tina,” lives in another state. She is an extremely self-centered young lady. Tina only talks when she wants something. She is a carbon copy of her mother, who is divorced from my loving, caring son. Tina wants to live full-time with her mother, where there are no rules.
She shows her dad no respect. She has been to psychologists and is taking medication for depression, but nothing seems to help. Her father is trying to teach her basic values such as love, compassion, respect and a decent work ethic, while her mother teaches manipulation and has a “get everything you can” mentality. Her mother even lies to the school authorities to keep Tina out of trouble.
My granddaughter is very attractive and intelligent, but there is no substance. We love her unconditionally, but how does anyone teach her to care about others? Is there hope? — Concerned Grandma
Dear Grandma: There’s always hope. Tina is young and her life will be shaped by what lies ahead. We urge you not to pass judgment too quickly — on your granddaughter or her mother. Be a place of refuge for her, and when she is with you, teach by example those qualities you want her to emulate. Kids absorb a lot when you think they aren’t paying attention.
Dear Annie: I want to thank you for mentioning Al-Anon. As a 12-year veteran of this wonderful program, it not only saved my life, it has allowed me to find a better life than I could have imagined with an alcoholic husband.
When I first started going to these meetings I had very little knowledge of Al-Anon and almost didn’t continue because I misunderstood what it was. Al-Anon is a group of people who are suffering from another’s drinking. I learned that I could not control anyone else’s behavior, but it doesn’t have to keep me from being happy. Al-Anon is not group therapy. We simply share our own experiences. Al-Anon is not a religious program and is not affiliated with any religious sect or denomination. There is no cost for this program, only voluntary contributions to pay for rent and literature.
For me, Al-Anon is an important new way of life that I will continue forever. I encourage anyone who is struggling with another’s alcohol consumption to give it a try. — A New Woman in Upstate N.Y.
Dear N.Y.: What a wonderful testimonial. Anyone looking for the nearest chapter can call 1-888-4-AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666) or log on to al-anon-alateen.org.
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 11.14.07