Posted: Monday, March 12, 2012 8:00 pm
Dear Annie: My son married a woman with a 3-year-old daughter, “Suzy.” Suzy’s biological father, “Duke,” has shared custody.
When I met Duke’s parents and extended family, we became quite friendly. Over time, I’ve learned a great deal about Duke’s childhood and how he sexually abused his younger brother and sister for several years. When Duke molested a neighborhood child, his church intervened and sent him to a facility for two years until he turned 18. Duke’s parents truly believe their son is no threat to Suzy, and that his “childish sexual abuse” is a thing of the past.
Suzy is now 9 and shows no signs of having been abused, and my son and his wife are very attuned to her behavior. Duke still lives with his parents, and I believe their constant involvement probably has prevented any abuse.
Duke recently became involved with a widow who has five young children. He now spends all of his time at her home. Should I tell his new girlfriend about his past? My family says that would only create problems and it’s best to keep mum. What do you think? — W.C.
Dear W.C.: Keeping quiet about abuse is never a good idea. Duke may not have abused any children in the intervening years, but it is unlikely that he is “cured.” And the temptation of being around young children without his parents’ supervision could undo his resolve. Please explain to your daughter-in-law and her parents how horrific it would be not only for his girlfriend’s children but also for Duke should he backslide. He should not be around young children without others keeping an eye on the situation. Simply waiting until something happens is not in anyone’s best interest.
Dear Annie: How can I get my husband to stop cursing? We have been married for a year. When we were dating, I never heard him curse once. If I had known how much he swore before I was so totally in love with him, I likely would have ended our relationship.
“Jim” says he loves me more than anything and that I have made his whole life better. Even though he knows how much I hate the bad language, he never apologizes when he curses and makes no effort to control his mouth. He swears whenever he gets angry, and he gets angry at the smallest things. He has adult ADD and takes medication. I know his impatience and anger are symptoms of ADD. I could deal with that if he would only stop cursing.
It is disrespectful when he uses that language in front of me. At the very least, he could try to work on this behavior. What can I do? — There’s a Lady Present
Dear Lady: It’s difficult to get someone to break a nasty habit if he refuses to work on it. You could try behavior modification, gently calling attention to his cursing every time he does it, asking him to find another word and even kissing him each time he uses a more acceptable expression. You could ask him to deposit a dollar in a “swear jar” each time he is inappropriate. You could walk away whenever he uses a word you don’t like. But these methods are most effective when he cooperates.
Dear Annie: “New York Grouch” doesn’t want his co-workers to throw a retirement party for him because he secretly hated all of them. You should have told him that his co-workers were throwing the party for themselves to celebrate his finally leaving their office. They undoubtedly have known his true feelings for two decades. An old almanac quote comes to mind: “What you are speaks so loud, I can’t hear what you say.” — Old Geezer in Rural Ohio
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd St., 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.
Published in The Messenger 3.12.12