Dear Annie: I’m planning to marry a wonderful gentleman in a few months. We are both in our 50s and extremely happy. We have been involved in a long-distance relationship for nearly two years.
I have met most of “Cal’s” family and think they are quite nice, although they are rather distant toward me — particularly his mother. I think the reason is they all are still extremely close to Cal’s ex-girlfriend, with whom he has three children. They get together with her and the kids for holidays and birthday celebrations. I haven’t been to any of these family functions yet, and it makes me uncomfortable to think about the ex being there. I’d feel like some type of interloper.
Cal has one aunt with whom I have established a really good relationship. We were talking the other day and she mentioned it was probably for the best that I hadn’t been to any family events yet. I guess their dislike of me is more than I imagined. I don’t understand it because I haven’t given them any reason. I am settled, own my own home, have four successful adult children and am in the process of obtaining a graduate degree. I am active in my church and do a lot of volunteer work. I don’t expect everyone in the world to like me, but it bothers me that my future husband’s family feels this way. Cal says it doesn’t matter to him and if I am uncomfortable around them, we can leave. I am thankful for his attitude, but I’d rather not need it.
Should I just not attend these family gatherings and send him with my blessings? — The Out-Law
Dear Out-Law: You need to see this in a different light. The future in-laws don’t know you well enough to like you yet, but they want to see their grandchildren regularly, which means they need to maintain a good relationship with the ex. If you can put aside your discomfort at these family gatherings, Cal would no doubt appreciate it, the family will get to know you better, and it will have the added benefit of making you seem gracious and inclusive. Otherwise, yes, send him on his own.
Dear Annie: I have a 14-year-old son in the eighth grade. According to his teachers, he is very polite, respectful and a joy to have in class. The problem is that he is failing because he refuses to do any of the work.
We have grounded him from the TV and his video games. He assures me he is going to do better, but he never does. His teachers and I are at our wits’ end. His scores on his standardized tests are high, so we know he can do the work. When we ask him why, he just says that it is boring and his brain turns off. I think it is just an excuse. Do you have any suggestions? — Frustrated Mother
Dear Mother: We think your son finds the work boring and his brain turns off. We also think he doesn’t feel he should have to do the work because he scores well on his standardized tests.
First, have him checked for learning disabilities that may not be apparent but which make homework assignments complicated and tiring. Then work with his teachers to see if he can do more challenging extra credit to make up the grades, and offer him incentives for completed assignments. Stand nearby while he does his homework to be sure he finishes, and hope the embarrassment will make him more responsible on his own.
Dear Annie: I’ve been enjoying the comments about bald men. I have a friend in Texas who is 6-foot-3, and he says, “I’m so tall, I grew through my hair.” — His Admirer in N.H.
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 3.20.08