Dear Annie: My 15-year-old niece is growing up too fast. “Margit” has been sexually active for at least two years and her mother says, “Everybody does it at that age.” I’ve tried to give Margit friendly advice, suggesting she focus less on boys and more on her education, to no avail.
I live in another country and it’s hard to be a major influence. Margit recently posted pictures on a Web site of a party her mother threw for her and it’s obvious that alcohol is flowing freely. Margit’s 11-year-old brother is in some of those pictures.
I am angry that my sister-in-law is so stupid and I worry Margit is headed for disaster. Should I report this to the police? Would it help straighten them out?
My family tells me to keep out of it and let them make their own mistakes. I just can’t overlook the idiocy of their mother. What should I do? — Frantic Aunt
Dear Aunt: We assume Margit’s father is your brother. If possible, please talk to him and explain how damaging it is to children when parents encourage promiscuity and drinking. Margit is too young to appreciate the ramifications, but her parents should put their child’s interests above their own entertainment. If nothing changes, it would be completely understandable if you reported the parents to the child welfare authorities so the situation could be looked into. Beyond that, there is nothing you can do but let your niece and nephew know you are just a phone call or e-mail away.
Dear Annie: Eighteen months ago, my husband made a career change that has severely affected our income. This is only temporary, however, as he is in training for a different, well-paying career. I am completely behind him on this.
We have made adjustments to accommodate our change in income level, and my in-laws have helped us because we decided to keep our children in a private Christian school.
Here is where I am baffled. My mom asked me to share in the cost of having a wooden play set built in her yard for my kids. She knows about our financial situation. When I told her we are still figuring out how to pay tuition for the school year, she said we could spare some dollars out of our next tax refund.
I’m really shocked at this request. She has never helped us financially, which I do not expect and absolutely harbor no resentment for because she helps us in other ways. However, I do think she assumes my in-laws will bail us out if we need them. This really bothers me. Am I being too sensitive? — Perplexed in Anytown, USA
Dear Perplexed: Not at all. Your mother should not be asking you to pay for a nice, but unnecessary, item at this time, and such a request indicates she is in denial about your situation. Simply tell her, “Sorry, Mom, we’re in no position to add any expenses to our budget right now.” If she keeps asking, keep repeating.
Dear Annie: I am a therapist with an interest in Asperger’s relationships. It seems to me that “Frustrated Girl,” with the “know-it-all” husband, may well be married to a man with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS).
While AS is now being diagnosed in children, there are currently generations of adults with the condition who were never diagnosed. The dynamic described in the letter is known as “theory of mind,” or mind blindness, in which a person is unable to conceptualize a way of looking at things other than his own.
You are correct that people like this are not apt to change. However, there is support available to their partners through FAAAS, Inc. (Families of Adults Affected by Asperger’s Syndrome). — Harriet F. Simons, Ph.D.
Dear Dr. Simons: Thank you for the diagnosis. Dozens of readers wrote to say that the Annoying Spouse was suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, bipolar disorder, Asperger’s, or was just plain mean. We appreciate all the efforts to help.
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 1.16.08