Posted: Friday, August 20, 2010 8:02 pm
Dear Annie: Our 19-year-old son, “Todd,” left home a year ago with only a backpack. He left a voicemail saying he was with a friend and not to look for him. My husband finally got a mailing address when he called Todd’s cell phone and said perhaps insurance coverage was no longer needed if we didn’t know where he was. We continued to forward mail to him and twice received e-mail — once to ask for money (which we sent) and another time to tell us his guitar had been stolen.
Six weeks ago, I found Todd on Facebook and “friended” him so we could keep better track of his status. He lives with friends a mile away and has been attending college nearby. Last month was his birthday, and I forwarded the card and check his grandmother sent and enclosed a check and card of our own. When the checks were not immediately deposited, we worried something might have happened to him and e-mailed. He informed us he had moved, but didn’t say where.
Since then, we have received several e-mails from Todd, all asking if those checks came back in the mail or if we are sending replacements. Maybe my anger is clouding my judgment, but if he wants gifts, isn’t it his responsibility to send us his address? If he doesn’t want us to know where he lives, he forfeits his right to get a birthday check.
Should we take a stand on this and risk losing touch with him completely, or has he proved that he is only interested in a relationship with us if we pay? — Peeved Parents in Tennessee
Dear Parents: We think Todd has proved only that he’s 19 and immature. The good news is, he is attending college and managing to stay out of trouble. The bad news is, the only time he thinks to contact you is when he needs money. The check from Grandma belongs to Todd, so e-mail and say if he wants it, he has to send you his current address. After that, it’s up to you. But we think it wouldn’t hurt to remind Todd that you love and worry about him, and that it would be nice if he’d let you know he’s OK once in a while. Then try to leave him alone as much as possible so he can learn to be a responsible adult. It will be good for all of you.
Dear Annie: My friend has a boyfriend who is emotionally abusive and recently choked her. She called the police but did not file a restraining order. She calls me every day, crying and asking for advice that she never follows.
I’m a wreck worrying about her and her child, waiting for the next awful phone call. I live a few hours away, and her family is no help. What can I do? — Pennsylvania
Dear Penn: There are myriad reasons why people stay in abusive relationships. You cannot “save” your friend. She must find the strength to get out on her own. You are, however, coming to her aid by listening and repeatedly encouraging her to get help. Please don’t abandon her out of frustration. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (ndvh.org) at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233), and ask for additional assistance.
Dear Annie: This is for “Help Needed,” who has a fear of birds. I suffer from arachnophobia (fear of spiders) and have developed a coping mechanism that might work for her. Instead of screaming when startled by a spider, I yell at it. This could work really well for birds, since they usually fly away when yelled at. — Ignoring My Fears
Dear Ignoring: Often, using anger can help make a person less afraid and in this particular case would probably scare away the birds, as well. Thanks.
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, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.
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Published in The Messenger 8.20.10