Life Advice


Health & Spirit

Annie's Mailbox for 9/19/2019

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: I am a proud father of two young children, who both mind and respect me. I know that kids get in trouble. We were all kids once. The problem is, I am the disciplinarian at home, and I wish my wife and her mother did a little more. They can't seem to handle any of it.

My mother-in-law babysits a lot, and I get calls at work for things like, "Your son won't eat his lunch," and "Tell your son not to do this," or "Your daughter pushed her brother." Yet at the same time, my mother-in-law will say, "You're not going to spank him!" when she has spanked him herself.

My mother-in-law and I get along fine. But when it comes to my kids, she seems to want me to fix everything, but restricts me at the same time. I work six days a week, and I don't get a lot of positive bonding time with the kids. Is it damaging that I'm the one who is the "mean" parent? -- Just Wondering in Indianapolis

Dear Wondering: Let's first go on the record as being opposed to corporal punishment. Children do not need to be spanked or hit in order to be appropriately disciplined. Nonetheless, in most families, one parent tends to be the disciplinarian. As long as you also spend time doing positive things with your children, we wouldn't worry about that. But your wife and mother-in-law should not be disturbing you at work for minor infractions, and your mother-in-law should not be undermining you.

Dear Annie: Every now and then someone writes in lamenting that they have no social life. I have yet to read the suggestion of splitting the cost of a date. Anyone who wants to know someone better should ask that person whether they'd like to see a movie or go to a restaurant and split the expense. Then the man doesn't have to worry about paying, and the woman doesn't fear she has to somehow repay him.

If this "date" doesn't generate another outing, there are no hard feelings. -- Louisville, Ky.

Dear Louisville: Generally, the person who issues the invitation is the one who pays, but this can be daunting for those on a limited income or for women who think the man always has to do the asking. Understanding in advance that you will be splitting the cost allows you to get to know someone without worrying about the expense or any future obligation. It's also a good way to get together with a friend, no romance intended.


Dear Annie: This is for "Concerned Friend," who thinks her friend is showing signs of dementia.

A few years ago, I noticed that my husband was no longer the active, energetic man I had known for 50 years. I was afraid he was rapidly succumbing to Alzheimer's. I mentioned this to his doctor, who attributed it to "old age." My husband was only 72. I didn't like the doctor's response and had my husband see my physician, who submitted him to some tests. At the second visit, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that was removed two months later.

More recently, I was in constant need of a nap, my hands were shaky and I couldn't hold anything without dropping it. This time, I was sure I had Parkinson's. I went to see the doctor with my self-diagnosis, but I didn't need to wait for test results. That evening, when I looked at my nightly medication, I noticed that I had been taking twice the recommended dose.

I'm happy to say I now have the husband I had before, and I can read the mail without picking it up off of the floor three times. "Concerned Friend" might discuss her worries with her friend's relatives and others who spend time with her to see what else may be going on. -- Been There

This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2014. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at


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