Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for 23 years, and we have two teenage daughters. Our biggest issue is disciplining the kids. I think they should do more household chores. My husband agrees in theory, but does nothing to hold them accountable when they don’t cooperate, so the burden of discipline falls on me.
I’m sick of being the bad guy and living in a slovenly house that no one else cares about. I’ve talked to them until I’m blue in the face. I’ve tried letting things go to see whether they’d eventually do something, and that doesn’t work either. Usually, I end up so frustrated that I throw a big hissy fit and clean it myself.
I’m ready to move out. To me, it’s more than the mess. It’s teaching the kids to be independent, to have some work ethic and to be accountable for their actions. To them, I’m being a nag. What should I do?
— Tired in Rural Oregon
Dear Tired: Nagging is part of your job as a parent. And it’s OK to let some things go. The girls’ rooms are theirs. Leave their clothes on the floor and their beds unmade. Tell them those things are their responsibility, and show them how to use the washer and dryer. If you can’t stand the sight of the mess in their rooms, close the doors.
Common areas will be tougher, but they are counting on you to give up. Firmly and repeatedly remind your husband and children to do whatever chores you assign. Do not do these things for them out of exasperation, and try not to become angry. Offer incentives in the form of increased or decreased allowance. Help them understand that you are not a servant. Being a member of the family means doing your share. If your husband won’t help, discuss hiring outside cleaning assistance.
Dear Annie: I am a senior in high school and plan to have a family graduation party next spring. However, I haven’t spoken to my maternal grandparents in six months. They have never been a part of my life and have said and done some hurtful things over the years. They often start fights at family get-togethers.
I have no desire to invite them, but my mom says I should because I would otherwise regret it later. Honestly, I’d be happy never to see them again, but I don’t want to hurt my mom by not inviting her parents. Should I?
— East Coast Senior
Dear Senior: Yes — not only because it would please your mother, but also because it will give your grandparents a chance to behave better. One should take advantage of opportunities to reconcile when possible.
Dear Annie: “Washington” said her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 30 years ago. She had been active in her church and had lots of friends, but at age 49, she was in a nursing home. Now the only person who visits is her daughter.
I was diagnosed with MS in 1961 at age 19. In 1962, I became wheelchair bound. I’m fortunate to have a loving, caring husband of 52 years who does the things I cannot do for myself. This disease turns your life upside down. It makes the MS patient feel like a burden to society. But disabled people want to be loved, too.
I have a chin-controlled power chair to move around in. I can use the computer with a voice-activated system, and I listen to books on tape. I stay as active as my limitations will allow. But with everything I do, someone has to assist me. I am blessed to have my husband.
For people who say they’re bored: How about volunteering for the disabled?
— Faithful Follower in Florida
Dear Florida: A wonderful suggestion. Approximately 400,000 Americans are diagnosed with MS. For those who want more information, please contact the National MS Society at nationalmssociety.org.
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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