Dear Annie: I am currently in school and working four different jobs. I am also the mother of three children. My husband is very selfish. He doesn’t think twice about sending our children to a sitter so he can go out to do whatever he wants. When I’m at school or working, I constantly worry about the kids. I feel it is his responsibility to take care of them when I cannot, and vice versa.
My husband also has a drinking problem and won’t admit it. My heart breaks when he stays out most of the night with “friends” and passes out when he gets home early in the morning. I fear that one day he will drive home so drunk that he will kill himself or someone else.
We are in our 30s, and at this point in life, I think he should be a responsible parent. He is a terrible role model for our children. I’m tired, I’m sad, I’m hurt, I’m anxious, and I don’t know what to do.
— Sad and Frustrated Wife
Dear Wife: You are also a role model, and that means you should not put up with behavior that is detrimental to your marriage and to your family’s well-being. We give your husband credit for leaving the children with a sitter and not simply walking out on them, but it is not enough. No husband and father should be drinking all night, driving impaired and leaving the kids with a sitter at a moment’s notice.
You cannot force him to get help, but you can get some counseling, with or without him, in order to plan your future. Also contact Al-Anon (al-anon.alateen.org). If there is the potential for your husband to put the children in harm’s way, he may need to leave the home for their safety.
Dear Annie: I’m a 72-year-old retired nurse who keeps herself fit and attractive. I work out in a gym regularly and dance with two performing groups, practicing several times a week.
All my life, people have told me that I’m too skinny and should gain some weight. This is not true. I’m naturally slim. I usually let these comments go, but I now live in a retirement community, and the remarks have become more frequent.
I would never go up to someone and say, “You’re fat. You need to lose a few pounds.” These comments have become irritating. How should I respond?
— Slim Senior in Banning
Dear Slim: You have several choices. You can ignore the comments. You can look surprised or hurt and say, “Why would you say something so rude?” Or you can reply, “Thank you so much! I’m lucky to be naturally slim.” As the people in your retirement community get to know you, they will stop making such comments. Please try to be patient.
Dear Annie: “Tired” asked how to get her kids to pick up their clothes. My husband, a volunteer fireman, pointed out that clothes on the floor create a terrible fire hazard.
We found a great way to get the kids to pick up their clothes. Tell them a couple of days in advance that if the clothes and toys aren’t picked up by a certain time, they will be confiscated for three days. Then, if they don’t comply, put everything in a large garbage bag and lock it up somewhere. (We used the trunk of our car.) We didn’t have to do it more than twice. The kids hated the idea that we had control over their clothes.
Thanks for giving people a place to ask questions they might be too embarrassed to ask anyone else.
— Laura from Florida
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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