Dear Annie: My problem is my relationship with my daughter, “Carolyn.” It started 10 years ago when she went to visit her grandparents in another state. My parents and I haven’t had a close relationship since I was in my 20s. I am now 57.
I raised Carolyn as a single parent without a dime of child support from her father. I worked 12-hour days six days a week to provide for her. When Carolyn was 6 years old, I was promoted. It required extensive travel, and I needed help from my parents. My daughter lived with them for two years, during which time they told her awful things, saying I was a terrible mom and didn’t care about her. When I began seeing a man (whom I eventually married), my parents labeled him “a monster.” He was actually wonderful. He loved Carolyn and adopted her and was the only father she ever knew.
When Carolyn went to visit my parents in her 20s, however, they convinced her that this man had mistreated her when she was little and she simply didn’t remember. But, Annie, he never did any such thing. They made it up.
Carolyn is now in her 30s and has been estranged from me for more than 10 years due to my parents’ brainwashing. Since then, my life has changed dramatically. I’ve been quite ill, in and out of the hospital, and Carolyn has never inquired about my health. How can I reconnect with my daughter?
— Help Me in Tennessee
Dear Tennessee: Your parents sound mentally unbalanced. However, if Carolyn truly believes that her stepfather abused her, you need to acknowledge this — true or not — in order to deal with it. Please don’t argue with her recollections. She will think you are simply protecting your husband. Instead, suggest to Carolyn that the two of you get family counseling together because you love her and want to find a way to keep her in your life. We hope she is willing.
Dear Annie: I have a friend who does not drive and depends on friends and family members to get around. I take her shopping, to the bank, to doctor appointments and other places. Occasionally, she gives me gas money.
The problem is, when I shop, I like to get in and get out. My friend, however, takes her time. I find this very aggravating. If I am doing the driving on her behalf, you’d think she would show more consideration.
She also has no idea that driving has a lot of costs associated with it besides gasoline. I feel taken advantage of. Any ideas?
Dear Frustrated: Many people who don’t drive cannot appreciate the cost involved in maintaining a car or the aggravation accrued when you expect someone else to cater to your schedule. Some of this is easily fixed. When your friend asks you to take her shopping, inform her that you have exactly one hour (or whatever you can manage), and when the time is up, you will have to leave. And stick to it. You also don’t have to say “yes” every time. Space out these favors so you are less annoyed, and you might also discover that you are happier to be in her company.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Worried Papa,” whose 16-year-old honor-student daughter wants to get her navel pierced. Several years ago, my cousin and his wife had the same problem. Their honor-student daughter wanted to get her lip and chin pierced. They agreed and took her to a reputable shop to have the piercing done. Later on, she also got her nose and tongue pierced. She looked hideous to us, but it was cool to her peers.
This girl with all the piercings is now a medical student, and the only piercings showing are the ones in her ears. Sometimes kids just have to go through this kind of fad.
— Been There in Kansas
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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