Annie's Mailbox: Unwanted Friends, Dismissed Stepdaughter
Dear Annie: Our neighbor "Ellen" is having an 80th birthday party for her husband. She has invited about 40 people, including my husband and me and the "Smiths," another couple who are neighbors. We've had many disagreements in the past where the Smiths have yelled and sworn at us. Now we ignore them.
Ellen told me we could come over to her home for the party anytime, but had to leave by 2:00 because the Smiths would be coming over then. Mr. Smith plays guitar and will be entertaining.
Is it right for her to ask us to leave? We are mature and reasonable people, and we could certainly leave on our own if we felt the need. My husband and the birthday celebrant are friends, whereas Mr. Smith is an acquaintance. But Mrs. Smith is friends with Ellen.
What should we do? My heart tells me to make an excuse not to attend, but common sense tells me it would cause more problems if we did that. What do you think of such an invite? Should we go? -- Unwanted Friends
Dear Friends: What nerve. Ellen was rude to tell you that you have to leave the party when the Smiths arrive. Does she perhaps think they will cause a scene? Did they ask that you not be there? No guest should be telling the hosts whom to invite. Ellen should have invited both of you, without restrictions, and let the chips fall. It would show tremendous grace on your part to show up at this party.
Dear Annie: We are writing to ask what we can do about the way our son's family talks. They have foul mouths. Whenever we phone, we can hear them in the background yelling about something and using the F-word rather liberally. Even our high-school-age grandson speaks the same way.
We've asked our son and his wife whether they try to correct the kids, and he says everybody talks this way and to get used to it. How do we speak up and let them know we have had enough of their toilet mouths? -- Ohio
Dear Ohio: What they do in their own home is not your business, even if you can hear them in the background when you call. And if Mom and Dad have potty mouths, it is expected that their children will, as well. They don't realize the handicap they are giving their kids by not teaching them how to control their language. All you can do is ask, as a sign of respect, that they not use such vulgarities when speaking directly to you. We hope they can manage at least that much.
Dear Annie: This is in response to the letter from "Stressed and Nervous," the stepmother who has no relationship with her adult stepchildren. Here is the flip side:
Our stepmother, a lovely woman, came into our family after my siblings and I were grown. While we never had a close bond, we included her in all of our life events. Most importantly, our children considered her to be their grandmother.
When Dad died, we all mourned together. For the next couple of years, we regularly invited "Grandma" to all family events. However, she soon began saying it was inconvenient for her to come and would rebuff any attempt we made to make it easier, such as picking her up or having her stay with us.
She hasn't invited her grandchildren over since my father died. She didn't attend graduations or send birthday greetings. At first, our children were hurt, but five years later, they no longer care. I still call several times a year, but it's like dropping a coin down a well. She has a large extended family of her own, and when I call them to ask whether she's OK, they say I need not worry.
It's sad she has distanced herself. She is part of 20 years of family memories. -- Dismissed Stepdaughter
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 www.creators.com.