Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: On the Sidelines, but Been There

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: My friend "Nancy" has become one of those stepmothers who negatively influences her husband's relationship with his adult children.

When things began to turn sour between Nancy and her husband's daughter, who lived nearby, the daughter retaliated by distancing herself from her father, refusing to see him and avoiding his calls. Nancy persuaded her husband to move across the country. She blames the move on the daughter, who "drove them away," but I'm sure his daughter sees it as Nancy making sure Dad is totally alienated from his family.

Now, when Nancy's husband speaks of visiting his daughter and her family, Nancy actively tries to discourage him, reminding him that he wasn't treated properly. Family members have suggested to Nancy that she allow her husband to handle his relationship with his daughter on his own, but she's unwilling to do that.

I hope Nancy's husband reads this and sees himself. Perhaps other men with controlling wives will, too. He should remember that his relationship with his children predates his marriage to Nancy and that he needs to honor that relationship and quit being so passive around his wife. -- On the Sidelines, but Been There

Dear Sidelines: Many men would rather abandon their children than fight with their wives. They also figure the kids don't need them that much. But truthfully, kids always need their parents' love and support, and once a husband takes a firm stand on the issue, the arguments tend to be shorter, and the wife often backs off. But it takes some initial effort. And by the way, this dynamic works with either spouse. There are husbands who push their wives to move away from their kids, and the wives allow it. Sometimes it borders on an abusive, isolating relationship.

You can't force someone to grow a spine. You've expressed your opinion to Nancy, and she has chosen to ignore you. We hope her husband finds a way to reconcile with his daughter before the estrangement is permanent.

Dear Annie: Last night, my husband finally came home after being away for three weeks. He was exhausted, mentally and physically. He is still tense, and I know it will take him at least a week to recover.


My husband is a trial lawyer. When he takes a case, he applies all of his training and skill, as well as his physical and mental energy toward helping his client. He wears himself out worrying about the case. He works as hard as he can on his client's behalf until the case is finished. It takes a toll, but I am proud of him.

I wish the people who make jokes about lawyers could see how much my husband cares for his clients and how hard he works for them. -- Married To a Lawyer

Dear Married: What a sweet and supportive letter. Lawyers generally have a terrible reputation ("sharks" comes to mind), but most attorneys are dedicated and extremely hardworking professionals. Their job is to represent the client. They are obligated to do their best, but others often blame the attorney if the client is unpopular or the lawyer is aggressive in the client's defense. But everyone is entitled to legal representation, and no one would want an attorney who makes a half-hearted effort. And many lawyers work pro bono (unpaid) cases in what little spare time they have. Thanks for the testimonial.


Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. 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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