Dear Annie: My sister-in-law, “Jill,” has some serious problems. We often disagree about things, and even if it’s her fault, she finds a way to blame it on someone else, usually me. She lies a lot and persuades everyone she is completely innocent. I am tired of it. Everyone knows she lies, but they still choose to believe her.
Recently, Jill told everyone that not only is she treated badly, but so is her 3-year-old son. This is outrageous. No one treats either of them badly. She’s having a “pity party” and it’s getting old.
When I tell my husband about it, sometimes he says it’s just in my head and other times he tells me to ignore it. Well, I can’t ignore it anymore. When I’ve tried to talk to Jill about her behavior, she claims I am jealous of her. She is 28 years old and I think she needs to grow up. Any advice on how to deal with her? — Fed Up
Dear Fed Up: Jill may need to grow up, but you can’t make that happen. The angrier you become, the more she will accuse you of jealousy and bad treatment. We don’t think others believe her lies. They have simply discovered it’s easier to agree with her than beat their heads against a wall. She targets you because you still supply a reaction and this gives her the attention she craves. You can’t change Jill, but you can change your response. Don’t let her get to you. When she makes some outrageous claim in your presence, acknowledge her complaint without comment and change the subject or walk away. If others repeat her allegations, say, “Oh, well, you know Jill,” and then ignore it.
Dear Annie: My husband and I recently traveled a long distance to attend my father-in-law’s birthday celebration. Many family members and friends attended the festivities. Toward the end of the event, my husband’s sister said there would be a family picture taken. Imagine my surprise and embarrassment when I learned only my in-laws and their children were to be included in the picture — no spouses. My in-laws have slighted me on other family occasions, but I’ve always asked my husband not to cause a scene. We have been married for 37 years and they still don’t consider me a part of the family. How do I handle such rude and ignorant behavior? — Snubbed and Miffed
Dear Snubbed: It’s perfectly OK to take a picture of just the parents and children, sans spouses. However, it shouldn’t be the only family picture. Whoever was in charge should have arranged for several family shots to be taken, some with spouses, some without. It avoids the hurt feelings you have described. If it happens again, your husband should suggest taking an additional family photo that includes everyone, but if he won’t speak up, feel free to do so yourself.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Need Help in Wisconsin,” who confided in her doctor about her teenage daughter’s pot smoking. The doctor then told his same-age daughter, who blabbed it all over the school. Your response was not strong enough.
This doctor repeated something that was told to him in confidence. He violated the Hippocratic oath. What is said to him is privileged information, the same as when one talks to a lawyer or priest. He should be reported to the state licensing board. If he did this to her, he’s probably done it to other patients. In fact, he may have discussed her medical problems with his family. She should change doctors. I would never trust this man. — Culver City, Calif.
Dear Culver City: You weren’t the only reader who thought she should string him up by his ears. We, too, would not remain with a doctor who had such a big mouth, but the writer clearly stated she didn’t wish to change physicians. That is her choice.
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 2.20.08