Posted: Friday, May 21, 2010 8:02 pm
Dear Annie: My stepdaughter, “Pam,” is 24 and is the mother of two children, one 7 months and the other a toddler. Her children are often ill with bronchitis and other maladies, and the oldest has behavioral issues. The baby rattles when he breathes.
Pam smoked during pregnancy, much to our chagrin, and she recently admitted that she smokes in the car with her children in the backseat. This both appalls and infuriates me, and I believe it is neglectful and abusive. My husband says I shouldn’t badger her about it because it will only make things worse. Pam does have some learning disabilities, but she is intelligent enough to understand that smoking is extremely harmful, not only to herself, but to her children.
Do you think I should shut up about her abusive behavior and allow her children to suffer the ill effects? A friend of mine suggested that I call the authorities and let them deal with the situation. — Disgusted in Pennsylvania
Dear Disgusted: Smoking in front of your children is not generally considered child abuse. Smoking is highly addictive, and even if your stepdaughter wanted to quit, it would be difficult for her. Is the children’s father in the picture? If so, he would be the best one to approach Pam about the effects of secondhand smoke on the children’s health and to work with her on ways to minimize the damage. You also can recommend she consult her pediatrician for additional advice.
Dear Annie: Please settle an argument. A couple of weeks ago, new neighbors moved in two houses down from us. I want to bake cookies or brownies, give them to our new neighbors and introduce ourselves. After a brief hello and an offer of “if you need a cup of sugar,” we will let them get back to whatever they were doing.
My husband thinks it’s too soon to ring their bell. He says it would look like we’re just being nosy. When is the correct time to introduce yourself to new neighbors? — Samantha
Dear Samantha: As long as you don’t expect the newcomers to invite you in for coffee, the correct time is when the moving van is gone. A couple of weeks is plenty. Bring your cookies or brownies and introduce yourselves already. Most newcomers appreciate being welcomed by their neighbors and having the opportunity to form new friendships.
Dear Annie: You recently printed a letter from “Crushed,” whose husband thought he was dying and confessed to being unfaithful many years ago. You said such deathbed confessions leave an emotional burden on the listener. But that husband was still alive and feelings could be reconciled.
In my case, it was a true deathbed confession, not of physical unfaithfulness, but of emotional unfaithfulness. At one point during our marriage, my job took me away from home. My husband thought I no longer loved him, and in response, he turned to another woman for emotional support. I was so shocked by what he told me that I didn’t ask for any details, thinking we would have time to talk about it. As it turned out, he died that night.
Do you have advice for a widow who had no opportunity to bring about any kind of reconciliation and is now carrying a heavy emotional burden? This situation invades my mind and keeps me from getting proper rest at night. — Also Crushed
Dear Also: How sad that you didn’t have the time to resolve this. We are certain your husband did not intend to leave you with such damaging unfinished business. Please talk to a grief counselor to help you work through your feelings and come to terms with your loss.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. 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 5.21.10