Dear Annie: I am in a dispute with my kids’ middle school. For the past two summers, the school has recommended to our 8th-grade students several reading selections that contain crude language and explicit sexual content. I don’t understand why. The “reading specialist” who helped select the titles says, “Kids need to read things that aren’t pretty, because life isn’t perfect.”
I argue that they can read about all of the imperfect things in the world in the newspaper without the lewd language and sexual content. I’m also disgusted with the administration and school committee for supporting these recommendations. I’m not looking to ban any books. Parents are free to acquire these titles at bookstores and libraries. I’m only looking for the school to exhibit some level of respect when suggesting titles for their students. Is this a common situation? Can parents no longer assume that the books our schools are giving to our kids are within expected parameters?
— Sickened on the East Coast
Dear Sickened: We assume you have read these books and so have a fair basis for your complaint. Some books with offensive language or content are valuable selections because problems are brought up in a way that provokes a careful and intelligent discussion of issues that kids need to hear and that parents are often reluctant to bring up. However, if you feel these books do not accomplish anything worthwhile, the best way to alter the school’s choices is to get a group of parents together and raise your concerns with the administration. They are more likely to listen to multiple parents who offer reasonable objections.
Dear Annie: My sister and I have been estranged for many years, in part because I was not a good sister, and also because her husband is a liar who stole more than $60,000 from our parents, who could not afford the loss.
I am getting married soon, and my parents would like to see us get along. I was happy to invite her to my wedding, but when she RSVP’d, she included her husband. He was not invited.
If I tell her he’s not welcome, I fear the reunion my parents want will be canceled and our relationship will never be repaired. However, it is my wedding day, and I don’t want my sister’s husband’s presence to put a damper on it. Any suggestions?
— Want Peace in the Family
Dear Peace: We hate to stick up for a guy who stole money from your parents, but it is improper to invite one half of a married couple, no matter how much you dislike the guy. They are a package deal. Your parents, who were his victims, seem willing to forgive him. And you admit that you weren’t a “good sister.” So there appears to be blame to go around and forgiveness from those who were most aggrieved. You don’t have to interact with the guy or be more than polite. But try to tolerate his presence for the sake of your parents. This is apparently the price of reconciliation.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “N.Y., N.Y.,” the 34-year-old who doesn’t want to see her ailing grandparents anymore because one has dementia and the other doesn’t smell good. I’m having a hard time replying in acceptable language.
My dear father-in-law has dementia and is unable to care for himself. He’s visited frequently by all of his extended family, even those who live hundreds of miles away. My mom is in a wheelchair and is incontinent and unable to bathe often. Her grandchildren wish she lived closer so they could visit more often.
I envy adults who have grandparents. “N.Y., N.Y.” doesn’t indicate that her grandmothers have been abusive or unkind, and she used to visit them frequently. Ultimately, her shocking selfishness will hurt her more than anyone else.
— S from R
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