Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Troubled Teen Near Toronto

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: During a recent family gathering, my mother-in-law referred to me as an "out-law" instead of an in-law. This comment was totally out of the blue. Not only was I embarrassed, but I have never felt so unwanted and hurt in my entire life. With that one statement, she has completely destroyed our relationship.

My in-laws and I never have had any disagreements in the past. My husband says that I should just get over it and move on, because it is a waste of time to confront her. In her mind, she is right and always will be right.

Now I am very uncomfortable being around her, but I do it for my husband and children. If I confront her, she is the type of person who will make her son choose between us. Please help. This is eating me alive. -- Heartbroken

Dear Heartbroken: Take a giant step back. You are making mountains out of molehills. In some families, calling the in-law children "out-laws" is an endearment.

While this may not be the case with your mother-in-law, it's also likely that she simply has a sarcastic sense of humor and did not intend to cause a major rift.

You don't need to "confront" her. You need to talk to her, calmly and with as much affection as you can muster. Say that you want so much to be a close member of your husband's family, and you know she couldn't possibly have intended to hurt your feelings like that. Then, for the sake of your marriage, let it go.

Dear Annie: My fiance and I will be married at the end of the summer. We are planning a small backyard wedding with family and a few close friends.

My fiance has an ex-wife with whom he has maintained a good relationship. They have an 18-year-old son together. While I am glad they get along, this woman is not really my cup of tea, and I don't see myself as her "friend." My fiance wants to invite the ex and her new husband to our wedding.

Although the ex is around regularly for birthdays and holidays, I really don't want her there on our special day. She never does anything horribly wrong, but she throws out little comments like, "We'll always be family," and gets bossy to me in my own home. Any advice? -- New Bride


Dear Bride: It would be nice if your groom chose to exclude his bossy ex-wife at your wedding. It's your day, and you shouldn't have to worry about her. Tell him you would appreciate it if the ex were left off the invitation list. However, if your groom is inviting her for his son's sake, please try to put up with it. Developing a tougher hide and a gracious attitude will serve you well in the long run.

Dear Annie: I am a teenager who's always been told that if I have a problem, to talk to my parents. I did that recently, and before I could even finish, they started yelling about how stressed out they are and stuff like that. Now I'm afraid to tell them anything.

How can I talk to my parents without being one more problem for them to deal with? -- Troubled Teen Near Toronto

Dear Troubled: You may have caught your parents at a particularly stressful moment, and they probably have no idea how alienating that was for you. Don't give up. Try again, perhaps after dinner or just before bed, when they are more relaxed.

If you still can't get through to the folks, is there an adult relative or neighbor with whom you feel comfortable discussing your problems? If not, when school starts up again, please talk to the school counselor, who also can let your parents know that they need to be more attentive. And, of course, you always can write to us.


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. 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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