Posted: Monday, October 22, 2012 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: My son, “Clark,” is 51 years old and never married. Last month, he met a 26-year-old online. This girl’s mother is only four months older than my son. The girl is younger than my grandchildren.
Clark has proposed to this girl and put money in an account for her to use for their wedding. I learned about the wedding dress and the reception hall from my daughter. I know nothing about the girl’s family except her parents are divorced and her mother is living with the man who fathered her little brother.
I am a bit leery of what’s going on and worry that this girl is using Clark for his money. When she and her family go out with him, he pays for everything. I care about my son and don’t want him to get hurt. How do I get the two of them to let me in on what’s happening? — Mom
Dear Mom: Your son is 51 years old, and if he wants to marry a girl half his age and give her all of his money, that’s his decision, good or bad. He certainly wouldn’t be the first man to behave this way. We understand your concern, but if you want your son to be part of your life, you will need to accept his decision to marry this girl. Do your best to put aside your misgivings and welcome her. She may, in fact, turn out to be a terrific young woman and a good wife. But if things go south, please resist the urge to say “I told you so.”
Dear Annie: Based on strong personal beliefs, I made the decision 10 years ago to quit celebrating the major religious holidays. I don’t begrudge others celebrating, and I keep my “bah humbugs” under wraps.
Last year, I ended up in a difficult situation. I was patient when my office played holiday music from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I good-naturedly cut out snowflakes to contribute to the team decorating contest. I even participated in the potluck by baking a batch of cookies. However, I politely declined the secret Santa gift exchange. Unfortunately, my well-meaning supervisor bought me a gift anyway.
Please tell your readers that if someone says they don’t participate in the holidays, please respect their wishes. We do not feel left out or deprived. When we receive a gift anyway, it’s rude. It becomes all about you. So, Annie, if it happens again, should I refuse the gift politely? Also, should I complain about the music or just grit my teeth and deal? — Modern-Day Scrooge
Dear Scrooge: It’s OK to accept an unanticipated gift without reciprocating. Just say thank you. Complaining about the music, however, is probably an exercise in futility. Bring headphones.
Dear Annie: I was appalled by your response to “Judged Wrong in Jersey,” who is mistaken for Goth because she wears a lot of eyeliner. You told her to “take responsibility” for her choices. She’s a kid. How is she supposed to know who she is if she doesn’t experiment? You should have encouraged her style. — Bullied Victim
Dear Victim: The girl is not being bullied. She has made a choice that has produced negative repercussions. Readers were upset that we didn’t tell “Judged” to wear as much eyeliner as she likes, and that we didn’t yell at the fleeting comment by an unknown teacher.
Fair or not, people judge based on appearances. Teenagers are not toddlers (although they both do things to gain attention). Part of the maturation process is learning to understand that choices have consequences. If she chooses to wear heavy eyeliner, it’s fine with us, and we hope she enjoys the experience, but she should accept that she is provoking a reaction. If she doesn’t like the feedback, she can modify her makeup or brave the criticism. And if she takes pleasure in the response, she shouldn’t complain about it.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third 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 10.22.12