Posted: Friday, October 14, 2011 8:02 pm
Dear Annie: My husband and my son-in-law are both alpha males. My daughter and I are very close. In the early years of my daughter’s marriage, there was a small power struggle between her husband and me, but I bit my tongue until it bled. We seem to have reached detente. My husband, however, has not.
“Joe,” my daughter’s stepfather, is a smart, nice guy. I married him when my daughter was in high school, and she respects him a great deal. She frequently asks for his advice and help. The problem is that my son-in-law, “Todd,” bristles at any advice from Joe and refuses to accept it. Then Joe becomes angry and cannot accept that Todd doesn’t want his territory invaded.
We live several states away, but they need our help taking care of our granddaughter, so we visit regularly, always at their request. The visits always start out well, but after a day or two, the arguments begin, and I feel caught in the middle. Todd already has a fragile ego because my daughter is the breadwinner. He cannot tolerate Joe’s opinions on anything, and I can’t ask my daughter to help navigate this issue, because she will rightly back her husband.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Just writing this has helped reduce my blood pressure from our last trip. — Frustrated in Kentucky
Dear Kentucky: It seems your daughter has married someone very much like her stepfather. Allow her to handle her husband her own way. You can work on yours. Joe doesn’t like that his advice isn’t appreciated, so try to get him to understand that Todd is sensitive to being told what to do — just as Joe would be. Arrange your visits so your time together is limited. Stay in a motel if you can afford it. Go out for dinner by yourselves, saying you “want to give them privacy,” or better, insist on babysitting so they can have a romantic dinner out. When the two men have an unavoidable altercation and your blood pressure rises, leave the room and let them hash it out themselves.
Dear Annie: I am 14 and just started high school. I have always been friends with younger kids, so I am worried about making friends when there isn’t anyone younger.
I go to a small school, and there aren’t a ton of people. I am friendly with everyone, but don’t have any really good friends I can count on. I had one friend last year who became competitive. She would make fun of me and get my other friends to join along. She still thinks we are good friends, but I am having other thoughts.
I want to find a new best friend. Am I freaking out over nothing? — Confused
Dear Confused: Navigating high school can be socially challenging, but it won’t help to become anxious. Work on developing your self-confidence — it is highly attractive. And remember, not everyone is “best friend” material, and thinking you must find someone puts pressure on you. If you are friendly and easy to be around, you will find people to hang with.
Dear Annie: This is in response to the self-absorbed “Disappointed Reader,” who thought her in-laws were too demanding by wanting occasional calls and visits.
Some of my friends have discussed this attitude. We decided that since our children feel no obligation to call or visit, we no longer have any obligation to give them anything. We’ve helped with down payments, washers, dryers, refrigerators, cars, furniture, restaurant meals and trips out of town. We’ve spent plenty on grandchildren who don’t say “thank you” or bother to send a birthday card. We were there for them when they needed us. Now they don’t have time for us.
Our lawyers have rewritten our wills. “Disappointed Reader” may discover she isn’t getting so much as a personal memento. Thanks for the opportunity to give these selfish brats a heads up. — Nana in Alabama
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. 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 10.14.11