Dear Annie: I have been dating “Jeff” for three years. He has two teenage kids from a prior marriage. During the first two years, I understood that he did separate activities with his children, but I now feel he should include me in more than the occasional dinner.
Jeff claims he wants us to be together forever, but his actions say otherwise. We spend all our time together, except when his kids are involved. Then I am completely excluded. And on occasions when we make plans and the kids want to visit, he will cancel his time with me. He indulges their every whim.
Jeff has no problem interacting with my adult children and me on every level, but won’t give me the same respect. I feel like my future is on perpetual hold. Am I wasting my time with false hopes?
— Questioning This Relationship
Dear Questioning: It’s possible that Jeff’s children are not happy about your relationship and are putting subtle pressure on him to exclude you. It’s also possible that he is uncomfortable behaving as if he has a romantic life when he is with his children. Or, he might be waiting until they are older.
Nonetheless, if you have been together for three years and intend to stay that way, it is best for everyone if the children get to know you and acclimate themselves to your presence. It won’t make things easier if Jeff gives the kids the impression that they control his social life. Talk to Jeff. If he is serious that this relationship is for the long haul, it’s time to bring you into the family mix. There will be bumps along the way, but they cannot be smoothed out if you don’t work through them and learn to accept each other.
Dear Annie: I read a lot of advice columns, but yours is my favorite because I love the practical advice.
I need some help. My dad was adopted at a young age. Without going into too much detail, he blamed his birth family for all the pain and suffering from the separation and loss he experienced. As a result, he refused to meet his birth mother when she came looking for him in the 1960s.
My father is in his mid-70s now and would like to track down his siblings. He has asked for my help, but I don’t know where to start. His original paperwork and the Internet have only gotten us so far. We know his birth mother’s first and last name and the first names of his siblings, but we don’t know how to find out more about them. Is there an agency that can help us?
— Baby M’s Daughter
Dear Daughter: We recommend the International Soundex Reunion Registry (isrr.net) at 1-888-886-ISRR (1-888-886-4777). You also can try the Adoption Reunion Registry (registry.adoption.com). Keep in mind that a great deal of your success with a search requires that Dad’s siblings have made themselves available to be found. Otherwise, you may need to hire a professional to help you. Good luck.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Sad and Frustrated,” whose grandchildren misbehave when the parents pick them up. Bless them for taking five grandchildren at a time for overnights and weekends. We have three grandsons and know what that is like. Instead of letting the parents pick them up, the grandparents should drive them back home. This gives the kids time to transition, which children have trouble with, and then the grandparents can drop them off and leave without having to watch the antics and disruptive behavior. Keep in mind, the parents may feel uncomfortable disciplining their children in the grandparents’ home.
We also enjoy having the grandsons over one at a time. That gives each one special attention that is priceless. We hope those grandparents don’t give up. They are making memories for a lifetime.
— Grandma, Too
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. 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.
— Creators Syndicate Inc.