Dear Annie: Two years ago, I married my best friend. I’ve been with her for 10 years. She has two teenage children from a previous marriage. When we all moved in together nine years ago, there were a few struggles, but I felt they were not unusual and we could overcome them.
But now it’s worse. I believe part of the problem is that my wife does not provide any structure in the children’s lives. She would rather be a friend than a parent, and as a result, they do not respect either of us. My wife is defensive when it comes to criticism or suggestions about her kids. She always takes their side.
Last week, my 17-year-old stepson asked for an expensive item. When he heard me say “no,” he flipped out. He was full of rage, and it is obvious that he has pent-up anger toward me. I have raised this kid for half of his life and have provided for him when his own father wouldn’t. I don’t have the finances to provide luxury items, and while this has caused tension in the past, I don’t deserve to be spoken to that way and said so.
I gave him an ultimatum. I told him to say everything he needs to in order to clear the air, and after that, he will no longer be allowed in our home. He should live with his father.
My wife has essentially told me that I’m the bad guy here. Am I wrong to believe in old-fashioned discipline? I fear that when I need her the most, my wife won’t be by my side. I refuse to be treated like this, but I’m also scared of losing what I love the most. Is our marriage already over?
— Trying To Be a Stepdad
Dear Trying: We understand your frustration and agree that your wife should be dealing with this in a more effective manner. But you cannot give ultimatums to your wife’s children unless she backs you up. You are overstepping your authority. If she is forced to choose between you and her children, you will lose. Teenagers have their own category of parenting requirements. Please check out the National Stepfamily Resource Center (stepfamilies.info) for information and suggestions.
Dear Annie: Four friends and I recently spent two hours cleaning up another friend’s apartment when she moved. We all came to the same conclusion: Get rid of your stuff!
Please tell people to go through their closets once in a while and throw out or donate old clothes. How many purple tops do you need? How many gewgaws must you have in your collection? If they accumulate dust, you have too many. Take a picture of your teddy bears and dolls, and you’ll have them forever.
No one is going to care for these things when you can’t do it any longer. May as well donate them now and let someone else enjoy them.
— Four Good Friends
Dear Friends: Clutter can get the best of anyone if they don’t make the effort to clean out and organize now and then. It’s nice to have friends who are willing to help. We hope your friend appreciates you.
Dear Annie: “Incredulous on Cape Cod” said, “Aren’t other people supposed to host housewarming parties?” You said, “Actually, no.” You are wrong. The answer should be “Actually, yes.” A housewarming party is hosted by someone else but at the new homeowners’ home. This can be done as a surprise or prearranged.
— Getting It Straight
Dear Getting: Sorry, but you are incorrect. Here it is straight from Emily Post, beautifully phrased: “A housewarming party is hosted by the new homeowners to welcome friends and family to their new home, to give tours and receive compliments and to serve food and have friends help ‘warm’ their residence with their caring and affection.”
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.
— Creators Syndicate Inc.