Dear Annie: My 20-year-old daughter goes to college full time and holds down a full-time job. The problem is, “Nia” has terrible hygiene habits. Her room is always trashed with dirty clothes and papers. She has old food and half-full drinks all over the place and wrappers and trash everywhere. She showers every day but rarely brushes her teeth. She has friends but doesn’t socialize with them. She only sees them at school or work. She is on the Internet for hours at a time.
Nia is bright but just doesn’t care about her appearance. She does lack self-esteem but tries really hard to hide it. I really see her as socially awkward.
I have tried therapy and talking with her, but nothing helps. A doctor gave her medication for depression and put her in group therapy, which she did not like, and she did not get any better. She has had three boyfriends, but that was in name only. I don’t know what to do. Nia has a solid, intact family, and we can’t figure out why she doesn’t understand that taking care of yourself matters. — Need Help
Dear Need Help: Many 20-year-olds are slovenly about their personal space and hygiene habits. It often takes an outside party (a boyfriend, a boss) to make an impression. The real issue is that Nia seems to be retreating from social contact. Your daughter should see a physician for a complete checkup, and you should alert the doctor to your concerns in advance. It’s possible her problems are medical, and she also might be more inclined to listen if the doctor makes suggestions.
Dear Annie: My in-laws invited my 13-year-old son to go to England next summer. I assumed they were treating, as they have plenty of money. However, when we met to discuss the specifics of the trip, they informed me it would cost us a little under $4,000. I had already told my son he could go, but I never would have agreed if I knew they were expecting us to pay.
I think if you invite a grandchild on such a trip, you should pay. I am already prepared to say no next time unless it is a gift. What do you say? — Surprised in Iowa
Dear Surprised: When grandparents invite a grandchild on an overseas trip, it is understood that they are paying for most, if not all, of the excursion. Your in-laws should have made it quite clear when they initially issued the invitation that they expected you to foot the bill. It was unfair of them to let you think otherwise (and allow you to inform your son) before dropping the other shoe. If the money is a hardship, you should have no qualms about telling your in-laws the trip is off. If you can afford it, however, please let your son enjoy this time with his grandparents. It will be a great experience for him. And you’ll know better if there’s a “next time.”
Dear Annie: As the executive director of a domestic violence shelter in Florida, I am amazed by the generosity of the community during the holiday season, as they give so abundantly to women and children escaping domestic violence.
However, at the same time, I am shocked at some of the toys that have been donated. We have received countless violent toys, including one labeled “Punch ‘n’ Crush.”
Annie, these children have had violence take such a prevalent part in their lives, they do not need toys that reinforce the brutality they have observed on a daily basis at the hands of a parent. Please tell your readers that we deeply appreciate their donations, but when they are purchasing toys for charity, we would appreciate it more if they would donate only nonviolent items. — Concerned About the Violence Bombarding Our Children
Dear Concerned: Many people who are eager to help out don’t consider the significance of what they are donating. Thanks for the reminder to be thoughtful as well as helpful.
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 on 10.30.07