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Big boys do cry

Dear Annie: Would you please give me your opinion on the “man up” issue when raising boys?

When my 2-year-old grandson falls down, he is told to tough it out, that he is OK, and to “man up.” There is no hugging or wiping of tears, because that’s considered babying. I consider it compassion.

I didn’t raise my kids like this. Why do parents want their boys to be tough and hide their emotions? Isn’t it OK to cry if you are hurt, especially if you are 2 years old? Should I continue to comfort them anyway? How do I handle this?

— Sad Grandma

Dear Grandma: It’s perfectly OK for boys of any age to cry when hurt (physically or emotionally). And while our society has been conditioned to react negatively toward men who weep at the drop of a hat, it is generally considered sensitive and attractive for them to shed a tear when the occasion calls for it.

Thought minor hurts should not be turned into major crises, a toddler should be able to cry without worrying that he is angering or disappointing his parents. When he is with you, feel free to treat him as you would any child who needs some TLC. The world certainly does not need more men who are emotionally closed off because their parents taught them that expressing themselves was somehow not masculine.

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Dear Annie: My husband and I have disagreed about this since the day we married. I was divorced, and he was divorced twice. Let’s call him “Joe Smith,” and I’ll be “Jane Doe.” After my divorce, I went back to using my maiden name. I didn’t want to be the third “Mrs. Smith.”

Here’s the problem: Mail, holiday cards and invitations all come addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Joe Smith.” I feel it should be “Mr. Smith and Ms. Doe.” It irks me to no end that people cannot grasp this simple concept. I am right, aren’t I?

— Who Am I?

Dear Who: Basic etiquette says a married couple is address as “Mr. and Mrs. Whatever” unless informed otherwise. Even if people are aware that you use your maiden name, they may think it is only for business purposes and not for social invitations. This is not an unreasonable assumption, so you need to clarify your preference. You should let your friends and family know that you use your maiden name for all forms of address and would appreciate it if they would respect that. Some folks may need to be reminded more than once, so please be patient.

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Dear Annie: Your advice to “Grandparents” was right on the money. Our son and daughter-in-law also have three children, the eldest from a previous relationship.

It was obvious that “Johnny” was not treated as well as his younger siblings. We were heartsick at the way he was singled out for unkind treatment. He was berated for every little thing. Yet he was a good boy with excellent grades who graduated from school with top honors.

We took “Johnny” whenever possible, sometimes for a week at a time, and stayed closely in touch until, not surprisingly, it reached the crisis stage and he threatened suicide. They disregarded it, and he ran off. We found him and took him to live with us. His parents were angry, and there was a yearlong estrangement, but we stuck to it, knowing it was the right thing to do. Today, “Johnny” is a successful student at college and reunited with his parents and siblings.

It won’t be easy, but I know if “Grandparents” continue to support and love “Hayden,” they will not regret it.

— Grandparents, Too

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Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. 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.

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