Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 8:00 pm
Dear Annie: My brother and sister and I had an amazing childhood. Our parents stressed the importance of hard work and education. The three of us got advanced degrees, and my sister and I entered the workforce after graduation.
Our brother, “Dennis,” however, seems content to live with my parents, working a seasonal minimum-wage job. He was unable to find employment when he graduated and has not bothered to look since. That was seven years ago.
My parents do not charge him rent. They cook for him and take him on weekend excursions. They pay a portion of his student loan bills. Dennis doesn’t seem to have any ambition to move forward. It has created a lot of resentment.
The last time I saw Dennis, he made a snarky comment when I revealed that I was a month behind in my mortgage payment. I was amazed at his nerve, and it resulted in no contact between us for almost a year. Resentment is also building toward my parents for continuing to allow him to mooch off of them. They are now in their 60s and nearing retirement. They deserve better. And I admit that I’m a bit jealous that Dennis gets handed to him the same things my sister and I have to work so hard for.
I will be bringing my fiance to visit my parents for the first time, and we will be staying with them. I’m already dreading it. My fiance says to bite my tongue, that it’s my parents’ decision. But every time I see them, I notice how they have aged. Any suggestions? — Frustrated in Ft. Worth
Dear Frustrated: You need to follow your fiance’s advice and bite your tongue. This is your parents’ choice. The best you can do is be supportive of their needs, perhaps gently pointing out that they are crippling their son by allowing him to be so financially dependent. And perhaps stay somewhere else when you visit. Also consider that Dennis may have undiagnosed adult ADD or other psychiatric or medical problems that are interfering with his ambition. We feel sorry for him. When your folks are no longer around to enable him, he will be in serious trouble.
Dear Annie: Can I use your column to register a complaint? I’m talking about people in restaurants who use napkins, either cloth or paper, to blow their nose and then put the napkin back on the table or plate. This is so disgusting. It’s not only rude to their fellow diners, but also disrespectful to the people who have to clear the table and pick up the germ-filled napkins. And it’s quite likely that these same servers then bring menus, water or drinks to the next table without washing their hands.
Please, people, be considerate. — No Name, Please, Some of These People Are My Friends
Dear No: It is both crass and rude to use any table napkin to blow one’s nose. A small dab (with a tissue or handkerchief) is fine, but major nose blowing should be confined altogether to the restroom.
Dear Annie: I agree with your advice to “Dumped Upon,” whose mother-in-law badmouths her ex. My mother often maligned my father to my brother and me after their divorce and even after his death. Her words made me dislike being around her. My sister-in-law told me I must stand up to her. I prayed about this problem.
The next time she started in on my father, I said to her: “I am sorry your marriage to your husband was not all you wanted it to be, but I loved my father and found him to be loving and caring. I have fond memories of him. Please never say another bad word about him to my brother or me.” After that, she no longer mentioned him. I am — Grateful
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.
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Published in The Messenger 5.22.12