Life Advice


Health & Spirit

Annie's Mailbox for 9/22/2019

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: My brother, "Ned," worked alongside my dad for many years. Now that Dad is getting up in years, Ned has taken over the business.

Ned has had a drinking problem for a long time. Ten years ago, he landed a lucrative contract for the business, and my parents were able to put money in the bank. Since then, however, his drinking has become worse, and he has been unable to get any contracts at all. His temper has become volatile, and he briefly went to jail. He eats my parents out of house and home and ruins our family get-togethers by arguing with everyone. He threatens to sell his house, move to Hawaii and end his life if anyone tries to confront him. He refuses treatment.

We are all worried about Ned, but mostly, we are concerned about my parents' health. They don't know how to handle Ned's irrational behavior anymore and want to close the business before they lose everything. What do you suggest? -- Worried Sis

Dear Sis: If your parents still own the business, they ought to sell it, unless they can hire someone else to run it profitably. But if Ned is a part owner, your parents will need to consult an attorney. Ned's drinking, his volatile temper and his threats are not within their control. He has to want help and may need to hit rock bottom to get there. In the meantime, your parents have to protect themselves. Start by contacting Al-Anon (

Dear Annie: I have owned all kinds of pets and have always loved them dearly and considered them "family." I can understand signing their name on birthday cards, holiday cards, etc. But I was surprised when I received a sympathy card with the signatures of the husband and wife along with the pet's name and paw print. Do you think this is appropriate? -- Still Grieving

Dear Still: The dog's paw print changes the tone of the card from sympathetic to "cute." It is not appropriate, but some folks simply don't consider how that type of card is going to be received by someone in mourning. We don't believe they meant to treat your grief lightly. Please forgive them. Our condolences on your loss.

Dear Annie: I can't believe you told "Mom" that her arriving college freshman daughter should tolerate her new roommate's boyfriend staying overnight in their dorm room.


Obviously, the mom should get in touch with the roommate's parents and tell them she vetoes this plan. The young couple can then be angry with the mom, not the new roomie. Or if need be, call the university and request a new roommate ASAP.

This is where the sexual revolution has led us. The most shameless behavior is supposed to be tolerated by everyone for fear of "rocking the boat"! -- Mother of Two College Students

Dear Mother of Two: We didn't tell her to "tolerate" it. We told her to talk to her roommate and ask that the boyfriend spend his evenings elsewhere and also to request a new roommate as soon as it can be arranged. But here's where we disagree: We don't believe the parents should be working this out. This girl is now an adult, and part of the college experience is learning how to manage these types of situations without parental assistance. She needs to deal with this roommate on her own. We hope she will assert herself.

Dear Readers: Today is Family Day ( Studies show that children who eat dinner with their parents have a reduced risk of substance abuse. Please try to make meals a family event.

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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