Posted: Friday, July 18, 2008 10:06 pm
Dear Annie: My wife and I married 15 years ago. She has one son, “Evan.” Three months after our wedding, Evan’s wife divorced him. She’d been supporting him for 12 years while he drank and cheated on her. This is when he started mooching off of us.
Evan lost his license due to six DWIs. He drank himself out of his job and was headed for Skid Row, so I let him live with us. I hired a lawyer for him and, when he stopped drinking and driving, bought him a pickup. Altogether it cost me nearly $5,000. He moved out after three months and has had nothing but menial jobs ever since, none of which he has managed to keep for any length of time.
Two weeks ago, we learned Evan was $1,000 behind on his rent and has to move. The director of the local rescue mission says he can stay there for free until he finds a job and a place of his own. I am all for it. My wife, however, demands I buy him a large camper trailer. I say it is not our job to provide free housing and support for a 49-year-old single man.
My stepson is in denial about his drinking problem, and his mother has enabled him all his life. This man-child has done nothing but take advantage of us and I am tired of it. What can I do? — Stepdad
Dear Stepdad: Stick to your guns. Your wife mistakenly believes she is helping her son by bailing him out and allowing him to avoid responsibility for his actions. Counseling can help her see she is preventing Evan from growing up, but she must be willing to go. In the meantime, both of you should contact Al-Anon (al-anon.alateen.org) at 1-888-4-AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666) and ask for help.
Dear Annie: I am a young woman who just got out on her own into a new apartment. I did not move far from my mother and grandmother. In fact, we live within 50 feet of each other.
The problem is that they are over here constantly. When I come home from work, they are making dinner, sitting on my couch or watching TV. On my days off, which I cherish, Mom comes over early in the morning and then asks to spend the night.
I love them, it’s just that I am about to scream for some personal time. If I say something about it to my mother, she cries, yells or gets very upset. She says she loves being in my place. This situation is getting on my last nerve. Any advice? — Annoyed at Home
Dear Annoyed: Yes. Move. Your mother and grandmother will continue to stop by whenever they want because you feel too guilty to set boundaries. You must allow your mother to cry and throw a tantrum without giving in. She will eventually adjust and back off, but only if you insist on it and give it time to work. Otherwise, you’d best look for another apartment in a different part of town.
Dear Annie: I absolutely loved your answer to “Educator in Pennsylvania,” who thinks bright kids should repeat a grade if they don’t finish their homework. You hit the nail on the head.
I went through this with my son all through elementary school. The guidance counselor actually told him to dumb down his language so he wouldn’t put the other kids off. Can you believe it?
Both my husband and I are educators, and we cannot believe the state of education in the country today. — Another Pennsylvania Educator
Dear Educator: Most teachers do an excellent job. Our problem is with those who refuse to be flexible or who don’t recognize that bright students can also have trouble with class work. Children do not all learn the same way. We admire those teachers who understand this and try to reach all of their students.
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 7.18.08