Dear Annie: Last year, my boyfriend was caught soliciting a 16-year-old girl over the Internet. “John” was drunk and high on cocaine at the time. He was an addict and I was aware of it. I chose to stay with him anyway.
John has to register as a sex offender and the felony will never be erased from his record. I have three children — two older teenagers and a 9-year-old boy. I don’t have custody of my son, and although the boy saw John weekly for the first three months he was in rehab, that’s over now. My son is no longer allowed to see John at all, and he misses his “second dad.”
My son hasn’t been able to stay overnight with me or even visit unless John is somewhere else. I’ve barely seen my child in seven months. Do I have to choose between them? My kids matter, but I also love John dearly. I’ve never been treated so well. He is a different person now that he is sober. What should I do? — Torn
Dear Torn: We’re glad John is sober, but your child’s welfare must come first. We are assuming your ex has custody of your son, but he cannot legally keep the boy away unless it is court mandated. Have you spoken to your lawyer? If there is nothing you can do to change the visitation setup, we recommend you arrange to see your son as often as you can, without John. Your child needs to know you will not abandon him.
Dear Annie: Last year, my husband and I moved our life insurance policy to a new company. For the previous 19 years, my brother had been our insurance agent. When we switched, he became irrationally angry, which made us decide to remove all our insurance business from him.
My brother is known for his temper and immaturity, but his actions still really surprised us. What hurt even more is that my parents also became angry. There was a nasty blowout when my parents came to our home one day and treated my husband as if he didn’t exist. They haven’t spoken to him since.
I still believe in the importance of family. I’ve sought therapy in the past regarding relationship issues with my parents and siblings and have worked hard to improve things, to no avail. Frankly, I feel much better when I have nothing to do with any of them.
At Christmas, I sent cards to everyone, and my brother’s came back marked, “Refused. Return to Sender.” My husband thinks I should tell my parents about this. Annie, my parents have coddled my brother all his life. He is in his mid-50s and still eats breakfast with them every morning. I doubt they will ever see his faults. What do you advise? — Sad Sister
Dear Sister: It won’t do any good to tell your parents their son is a spiteful jerk. Even if they agree, they will defend him. Of course, you should have realized switching insurance agents would upset your brother, but a mature person would have handled it more gracefully. Save the card in case your parents accuse you of cutting him off, but otherwise, let the dust settle. Maintain as much contact as you can handle, and stop expecting your relatives to be nicer to you. It doesn’t seem likely.
Dear Annie: You printed a response from “Wellfleet, Mass.,” who took you to task for saying, “Once you’re married, your husband should come first.” She said that’s a page straight from the ’50s.
Just a question for her: What was the divorce rate in the ’50s, and what is it today? Perhaps we should take more pages from that era. — Leo in Hemet, Calif.
Dear Leo: Now, now, let’s not quibble. One of the reasons the divorce rate was lower back then was because many women were trapped in lousy marriages and unable to get jobs. We wouldn’t want to turn back that particular clock.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 3.11.08