Posted: Wednesday, October 1, 2008 9:16 pm
Dear Annie: I live overseas. A few months ago, my niece, “Linda,” came to visit for the second time. She is 17 years old.
I discovered the hard way that Linda is being raised by overprotective parents who give her everything she wants. She has become a cunning, devious, thoughtless, irresponsible girl. No matter how gently I’d tell her to pick up after herself, put things back where she got them, etc., she ignored my instructions every time. We had no choice but to pack her things for her so she’d make her flight on time. The visit was three weeks of hell.
The last straw was when she left me with a phone bill that took two months to pay off. I told her not to use the phone for overseas calls except in emergencies, but my roommate said Linda used the phone when I was out. She never even expressed a simple “thank you” for everything.
I cannot trust this child and don’t want to see her again, but she is my niece and I feel obligated to have a relationship. Is there a way to make her see that she has become a person who leaves bad memories wherever she goes? Should I tell her parents? Shouldn’t they know their daughter is growing into a deceitful person who doesn’t care who she steps on as long as she gets her way? — Resentful Aunt
Dear Resentful: Linda was rude and inconsiderate, but we don’t think she deserves all the pejoratives you are throwing in her direction. She is immature and a little spoiled, but she is likely to outgrow a lot of that. You should call the parents and tell them you’d like to be reimbursed for the phone bill since you could not afford all of Linda’s calls. When the subject of another trip comes up, say as sweetly as possible, “I’m sure Linda and I will both enjoy her visit a lot more when she’s a little older.” Then we hope you will give her another chance in a few years.
Dear Annie: I was having coffee with my friend of 40 years and the subject of weddings came up. “Debbie” commented that people are rude if they wear a red dress to a wedding.
She then reminded me that I wore a cranberry-colored dress to her wedding and it upset her a great deal. Annie, that wedding was 32 years ago and only now am I hearing this revelation. So tell me, please: Is it wrong to wear a red dress to a wedding? I’ve never heard of such a thing. — Woman in Red
Dear Woman: A century ago, it was considered bad taste to be the “scarlet woman” at such an occasion. However, 32 years ago, the only improper color was white. Now the rule is, guests are not supposed to wear clothing that upstages the bride. Still, this obviously has been eating at Debbie for years, so you may as well apologize for upsetting her since that surely was not your intent. It’s a minor capitulation to salvage a 40-year friendship.
Dear Annie: You left out an important possibility in your answer to “Tossing and Turning in Idaho,” the mother of four young children whose neighbor is putting in a pool and isn’t much interested in safety precautions.
While it is true that a child’s safety is primarily the parents’ responsibility, “Tossing” should inquire about zoning regulations. In most cities, zoning laws require tall fences and separate locked gates around all pools for safety reasons. City compliance officers may well take care of the problem for her. — Former Zoning Official from Missouri
Dear Missouri: We hope the city can take care of the unlocked gate, although we doubt it will assuage a parent who worries the children will be swimming without adult supervision. Thanks for the information.
To our Muslim readers: Happy Eid.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. 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.
Published in The Messenger 10.01.08