Dear Annie: My wife and I have two wonderful children in their early 30s. They live in other cities but occasionally visit us with their respective companions. We have no problem with our son’s girlfriend or our daughter’s boyfriend spending the night. These are serious adult relationships.
The problem is, our daughter intensely dislikes our son’s girlfriend, “Jennifer.” We admit Jennifer is a little high-strung, but we get along with her and understand she could be our future daughter-in-law.
Our daughter now insists she isn’t comfortable around Jennifer. She was planning to spend her vacation with us this summer but says she won’t come if Jennifer is around. If we tell our daughter to put up with Jennifer, she’ll say we favor her brother. If I tell our son that Jennifer cannot stay, he’ll say we are taking his sister’s side. We love both our children and are not quite sure how to handle the situation without alienating one of them.
We respect your down-to-earth advice. Please help us out. — Torn Parents in Denver
Dear Denver: Have an adult discussion with your daughter. Sympathize with her about Jennifer, agreeing that she can be difficult. Then make her understand that her future relationship with her brother may depend on her ability to get along with this woman. Ask her to do her best for the sake of the family and make an effort to discover the good qualities in Jennifer that her brother sees. Then promise her you will try to arrange these sibling vacations and weekend visits so they don’t overlap more than necessary. When they do, if you can afford it, periodically treat one or the other sibling to a romantic weekend at a hotel.
Dear Annie: My 13-year-old son loves playing soccer. He has played with our community sports league for nine years.
The problem is, he isn’t aggressive enough. Some of the girls play better than he does. Since he is older now, I don’t want the other boys to laugh at him, which a few did last year. Do I let him play, or should I talk him out of it? Soccer sign-ups are coming up soon. — Soccer Mom
Dear Mom: First talk to your son. Explain that his teammates are getting older and stronger and he might have to work much harder to keep up. If your son loves the sport enough to put up with the teasing, let him play. Talk to the coach about your concerns, and make sure there is no bullying. You also should see if there are other teams more at your son’s level. And by all means, try to interest him in different extracurricular activities. For most kids, unless you’re David Beckham, playing soccer doesn’t last forever, regardless of interest or aptitude.
Dear Annie: Your response to “Disappointed and Furious” wasn’t strong enough. Her 14-year-old daughter posed as a 21-year-old on the Internet, including using someone else’s picture, and Mom turned this man in to the police and the military as a predator. Shame on her! In this instance, her daughter is the predator. Mom has caused this young man much trouble and maybe even hurt his career — a man who is serving our country, a man who gave his phone number and address. Sexual predators don’t give out their personal information. Please blast this woman for turning in the man, and for not teaching her daughter moral values and keeping track of her activities. She should be furious with her daughter, not some man she duped. — Mother of Many
Dear Mother: We were amazed at the number of readers who wanted to tar and feather this mother. We agree the man doesn’t sound like a predator and Mom needs to watch her daughter more closely, but we know Mom is acting out of concern.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. E-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 5.20.08