Posted: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 7:45 pm
Dear Annie: My wife and I have two toddler children. When my son was a year old, my wife began to hit him as a form of discipline. I strongly objected and this led to many fights between us. This wasn’t the only problem. My wife is verbally and emotionally abusive toward all of us.
After many arguments, my wife finally agreed to stop hitting my son only to do so again later. This pattern repeated many times. She says she has no way to discipline him if she can’t hit him, and what’s worse, her entire family agrees with her. Of course, if I suggested hitting my wife the way she hits our son, they would say that’s wrong.
Now that my daughter is a year old, she has begun to hit her, too. I’ve shown many times that disciplining the children by putting them in their room works. But that’s not good enough for my wife. With so much support from her family, I can’t get through to her.
I’ve called three domestic abuse hotlines, but each person there told me they are strictly for abused women, not children. English is my wife’s second language. There are cultural differences between her family and mine and I understand this is how she was brought up, but I don’t want my children raised this way. Please help. — Hawaiian Black Eye
Dear Hawaiian: It will be very difficult to convince your wife that the way her parents disciplined her is not appropriate, especially with her family nearby undermining your efforts. First, it is your responsibility to keep your children safe from harm. While spanking is acceptable for some households, if your wife is hitting, slapping, punching or using belts, brushes or other instruments, you may need to get the children out of the house when she is upset with them. Then be sure your wife understands that in this country, if someone sees her hitting a child, she could be reported for abuse and the children could be removed from the home. With that incentive, contact the Children’s Advocacy Project at the University of Hawaii Department of Pediatrics (cap4kids.org/hawaii) and the Hawaii State Department of Health (theparentline.org).
Dear Annie: I have a close friend who visits a few times a year. He likes to take the morning newspaper into the bathroom before I have had a chance to read it.
Needless to say, I do not want to handle the paper after he’s finished with it. Is there a polite way of telling my friend not to read it on the toilet? — Not Appealing Now
Dear Not Appealing: You have several choices: You can tell your friend to please not take the paper out of the kitchen before you’ve read it. You can buy an extra paper on those days when he visits. You can get up early enough to read it first. You can stock the bathroom with interesting magazines. You can tell him point-blank that you don’t like handling the paper after it’s been in the bathroom. Pick one.
Dear Annie: I would like to correct some information in the letter from “Cape Coral, Fla.,” who said a reverse mortgage means the mortgage company buys the home. This is not true. The homeowner retains title, but a lien is placed on the home.
The owners can sell the home at any time and pay back the loan. They can stay in the house as long as they wish or until they die, at which time their heirs can either pay back the loan and keep the house, or sell it and any remaining proceeds go to the heirs. The only way the mortgage company gets its money is through the sale of the home and land. Please clear this up for your readers. — Loan Officer in Florida
Dear Loan Officer: Thank you for the clarification. Our readers will appreciate knowing how the reverse mortgage works.
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 8.12.08