Dear Annie: I'm a mother in my mid-20s and a very concerned sister. My brother, "Dennis," is four years younger and the first to graduate high school. He went to college and had everything going for him. Now he is throwing it all away.
Dennis turned to drugs and has missed important moments in our lives, such as weddings and holidays. He only shows up at my mother's or grandmother's house to take a shower, and then he goes out again. My family and I are trying so hard to point him back in the right direction.
Two months ago, I had to have Dennis arrested for assaulting me. We are all worried that something terrible is going to happen. There are times when he is completely out of it and doesn't know what's going on. What do we do? -- Worried Family in Illinois
Dear Worried: It is a nightmare when a family member is on drugs, because there is little you can do. Your brother must want to stop and be willing to get appropriate treatment. He's not there yet. It is important that your family members protect themselves while being open to any genuine efforts your brother makes to get clean. If he is in college, notify the counselors there, and contact Nar-Anon (nar-anon.org) for support.
Dear Annie: My nephew is getting married soon. The wedding will take place in Canada. My husband and I do not own passports, nor would we ever buy them, because they are expensive and we would never use them again. We have traveled to other family weddings within the United States, but we don't feel we should be pressured to attend a wedding out of the country. We can't afford it.
Do you think we are required to be there? -- Soon To Be Family Outcast
Dear Soon: No. You are not obligated to attend any wedding, and certainly not one that is beyond your financial means. While we believe family members should make an effort to attend one another's special events, it should not require overextending yourselves. Send your regrets and a nice gift to make up for your absence.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Need Your Input," the idiot who was critical of his girlfriend's Southern drawl. He shouldn't wait until she moves north. She deserves to know now that he is a passive-aggressive loser.
Who would presume to tell a grown woman that her accent is offensive? I could understand if it were a grammar issue or if her language were laced with profanities, but her speech pattern is who she is. And she will not "lose" it if she moves north. It may soften slightly, but it will never go away completely.
Clearly, this guy has other issues. If he truly cared for her, this accent would not bother him. In fact, most folks find a Southern accent delightful. It is soothing, relaxing and way sexy.
I surely hope this lady discovers who this jerk really is before she changes her life for him. -- A Yankee in North Carolina
Dear Yankee: We agree that if he cannot tolerate her accent, he should not stay in the relationship. But it is not uncommon for people to find one particular trait annoying, no matter how much they otherwise care for a person. And it's a highly individual degree of preference and tolerance. You love your boyfriend, but think the way he gestures with his hands is appalling. You adore your girlfriend, but she speaks too softly for your taste. These are neither negative nor positive traits to others. This particular guy finds this particular drawl to be grating. He needs to figure out how important it is to him in the grand scheme of his relationship.
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2012. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.