Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 8:00 pm
Dear Annie: My wife of three years always seems to have something derogatory to say about “Janie,” my 20-year-old daughter from my first marriage. If Janie vacuums, my wife says she didn’t do it right. If she has a half-filled garbage can, my wife tells her it needs to be emptied, etc. I am so tired of the nitpicking, but I don’t know what to do.
My wife and I have a toddler girl and a 7-month-old boy, and I love them more than anything. But don’t you think she should mind her own business about my older daughter? — On the Edge in Pittsburgh
Dear Edge: To some extent, yes. Janie is a member of the household and should do her chores. However, your wife needs to find better ways to handle Janie, or she will create resentment all around. Please don’t simmer silently. Talk to your wife so she understands how much this bothers you. See a counselor who specializes in blended families. And contact the National Stepfamily Resource Center (stepfamilies.info) for help.
Dear Annie: We are volunteers at an educational center that teaches English, provides tutoring and offers social services to minorities. The problem is our supervisor. He is constantly rude and sharp with the volunteers, as well as with prospective financial donors who could help support the program. When we bring this to his attention, he will take some responsibility in the moment, but he proceeds the next day as if the conversation never took place.
Over the past seven years, his behavior has gotten worse. I know he received some counseling in the past, but there has been no improvement. We have watched him bark orders at the paid staff, and he seldom uses “please” or “thank you” with anyone. He speaks poorly of others and disregards any suggestions made to him. He takes advantage of the volunteers by asking them to do personal favors, and he once asked a volunteer to loan him money.
He reports to a board where he has formed a couple of friendships that are more personal than professional, and they aren’t inclined to do anything. How do we handle this? We don’t want to quit, although a couple of valuable people have left and it has had a huge impact. We have put a lot of time and energy into this program and have formed relationships with the students. We don’t want to shortchange them because of this supervisor. Any suggestions? — Feeling Stepped On
Dear Stepped On: Asking for personal favors and loans is completely inappropriate and should be reported. However, if continuous attempts to get the supervisor to change his ways have failed and the board will not intervene, your choice is to put up with this behavior or leave. Some people would interpret the supervisor’s personality as more brusque than bullying and would ignore most of it. In fact, you might even be able to correct him at the time, as long as you use tolerant humor. If you opt to stay, this is the tack we would recommend.
Dear Annie: Your advice to “Not a Mommy” was spot on. I, too, have never wanted kids. When asked to hold a baby, I reply, “Thanks. I can see it from here.” Older women used to ask, “Who will care for you when you’re old?” But where are those adult children now? Living across the country with families of their own? It makes no sense to have a child to support you in your old age, to save your marriage or to please your husband, parents or society.
One of the first things I told my fiance was that if he wanted kids, he needed to move on. We’ve been married 28 years. A woman shouldn’t feel bad because she is not mother material. Children are better off with someone who will cherish them. — Not Mother Material
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, 737 3rd St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 3.20.12