Dear Annie: I have a question about forced touching. Let’s say an 8-year-old doesn’t want to hug her uncle or give Grandma a kiss. Do you force the kid to do it? Do you badger, threaten and make a fuss?
I’m wondering about this because if you tell your kid, “You have to give this person a hug” or “You have to shake their hand,” aren’t you teaching the kid that their body doesn’t belong to them? If you force your kid to allow others to put their hands on your kid’s body, how will they know when they shouldn’t be touched at all?
I hear all these people coming forward to say they were molested as kids by uncles, grandparents and other relatives, and that they didn’t say anything because they were taught that an adult could touch them at will.
— New York
Dear New York: No child should be forced to hug, kiss or even touch another person, even a relative. You certainly can encourage or suggest that she “give Grandma a kiss goodbye,” but nothing more than that. If the child balks, don’t push or express displeasure. Leave it alone. Some kids are naturally reluctant to display that type of affection, and it has nothing to do with molestation. Kids who are forced to hug Aunt Jane, whose breath reeks and who tends to pinch their cheeks, will not be endearing her to them. And yes, kids who think they must permit adults to touch them are more likely to remain quiet if they are molested.
Dear Annie: My best friend of 30 years is a hoarder — not the “Buried Alive” type, but more the Need To Clean House type. “Rita” has not invited me over to her home in more than three years, while she has been to mine several times.
I want Rita to enjoy her house again and have offered on numerous occasions to help clean. She agrees that she needs it, but never follows through. What else can I do? I’ve thought of calling Rita’s sister, who lives out of town, to advise her of the severity of the situation. However, I’m not sure the sister can get away to come, in which case my call would only upset her. And Rita wouldn’t appreciate that I called her sister.
Last week, a mutual friend told me that the roof of Rita’s house looks bad. She lives in the neighborhood and walks by every day. We can’t figure out what to do. Any suggestions?
— Want To Help
Dear Want: We suspect Rita is embarrassed by the condition of her house and doesn’t want her friends to clean it. She also may be having financial difficulties, making repair work beyond her means. Could you get a group of friends together to hire a cleaning service? Tell Rita you know she hasn’t had time to clean and you are worried about her. Say that you’d like to present her with the cleaning service as a gift. Ask her what day works best, and then set it up. However, there isn’t much you can do if she absolutely refuses your assistance. An unkempt house is not cause for alarm, and if Rita is, in fact, hoarding, she’ll need more help than you can provide.
Dear Annie: Like “Well Endowed in Kansas,” my breasts were often the topic of conversation. After my second child was born, my chest ballooned to a size GG on my size-8 frame. Carrying around a 1-year-old and an infant in addition to my chest was unbearable. Enduring the leers and snide jokes from disgusting men and the backhanded comments from other women was demoralizing.
Breast reduction surgery changed my life. No more comments, conversations or back pain. I wear regular bathing suits and bras. It’s liberating to feel and look like an appropriately proportioned woman.
— “Breast” of Luck to You
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, 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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