Posted: Monday, July 28, 2008 10:58 pm
Dear Annie: I am a 45-year-old man who met the woman of my dreams. We have been married for three years and I love her with all my being. The problem is her 16-year-old daughter, “Bunny.” She is mean, evil and does not respect her mother or me.
Bunny has been caught stealing, she talks back to her teachers, and she even has gotten into physical fights with her mother. She has been in hospital behavioral programs and has seen several counselors. All agree she has a mental disorder. She was prescribed drugs that she refuses to take.
We have had to call the police, but all they do is talk to her and leave. I can’t take it anymore. I feel it is time for me to move out because I’m afraid I might hurt Bunny. She has pushed me to the edge. Honestly, if she died today, I’d celebrate.
There is no way I can list all the things this girl has put us through and I don’t see anything changing. What can I do other than leave? — Hurt in Gary, Ind.
Dear Gary: If you truly believe you might hurt Bunny, you must move out of the house immediately. It is unsafe for both of you. Then you and your wife should get into counseling and see if any behavioral changes on your part could make things better. You also can contact B.I.L.Y. (BILY.org), a support group for parents of difficult children, at P.O. Box 2062, Winnetka, CA 91396-2062, and ask for help.
Dear Annie: “Joe” and I have been living together for five years in a house I own. We always intended on getting married, but sadly, I no longer see a future for us and we are splitting up.
Joe has always been wonderful about doing housework, sharing bills and helping to pay for remodeling. We have added a porch, replaced the roof, etc. He’s invested thousands of dollars in the place. So have I.
We could part as friends except for one thing. He wants me to reimburse him for his share of the remodeling expenses. His name is not on any deed or loan documents. I admit it’s not completely fair that I get to enjoy the house (and the better price when I sell it) after he put so much money into it, but, Annie, he makes a lot more than I do and I’d have to go into debt to pay him back. What should I do? — Sad Lady
Dear Sad: Joe deserves to get his money back — and what’s more, you know it. Work out a payment schedule that you can afford, or sign an agreement to give Joe back his money from the proceeds when you sell the house. You’ll sleep better with a clear conscience.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Leave Me Alone,” whose grandparents criticized her sister’s college major and complained about the cost of paying for their visit. You said to ignore the nastiness, but that only covers up what is happening.
My mother-in-law has always done the same type of things to my children, and we have always been very nice in return. We responded to nastiness with kindness. What my children learned was that dishonesty is the way we communicate, rather than saying, “You hurt my feelings, Grandma” or “I’m sorry you feel that way.” They are trampling their grandchildren’s emotional well-being and won’t stop if no one tells them their words are hurtful.
I would suggest she and her sister speak up at the next opportunity or write a letter explaining how they feel. It’s better than letting hard feelings build. — Experienced Parent
Dear Parent: Those grandparents were more kvetchy than nasty, and a certain amount of such behavior is too ingrained to change. But you are right that if grandparents are determined to say or do hurtful things, it’s best to speak up and ask them to stop.
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 7.28.08