Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Concerned Mother

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: Our son, "Cody," is 11 years old and a good boy. This was his first year competing on the school track team, and he did well, mostly third-place finishes and one second. We could not attend his last track meet, and when I picked him up, he excitedly told me that he'd placed first in the mile run. My husband and I were very proud of him and took him out for pizza to celebrate. Of course, we told all the relatives.

The following week, at the night of the awards ceremony, Cody came to me and tearfully confessed that he had not placed first but third. He said he lied because he wanted to make us proud. I didn't get mad, but I told him we were happy about anything he did, as long as we knew he tried his best. Mostly, I was worried because I have read about young teenagers committing suicide for not being "perfect," and I tried to let him know we always love him, no matter what.

The problem is, my husband does not agree with how I handled it. He says Cody lied and he suffered no repercussions because I let him get away with it. He said he already had talked with Cody after a previous lie. I didn't know about that, but I pointed out to my husband that Cody might feel stressed about living up to expectations that my husband may have, even unwittingly. What do you think? -- Concerned Mother

Dear Concerned: Your approach was loving, but your husband is right that there should be some consequences for the lies. It is not unusual for children to exaggerate their achievements in order to gain attention and approval. Cody needs to appreciate that such behavior undermines your trust in him. Such trust is easy to lose and difficult to re-establish.

Set a specific punishment for lying, while you and your husband reinforce the idea that you both love him regardless of how well he performs and that his honesty is appreciated. It will help if you don't have special rewards only for top honors. Pizza parties and phone calls to the relatives should be for third-place as well as first-place finishes.

Dear Annie: My daughter is living with her ex-husband, she says, for the sake of their child. They divorced because he cheated on her, and they argue about it in front of my granddaughter. Her ex has agreed to put his life on hold, probably out of guilt. I think he is a saint to put up with this situation.

How do I tell my daughter that it would be healthier for her to shed the victim role and move on? How can two parents living in the same home but not speaking to each other be a healthy thing for my grandchild?


I think my daughter is just doing this to make her ex pay for cheating on her. I have never shared my feelings on this with her. What can I do? -- Quiet Mom

Dear Mom: Perhaps your daughter would consider family counseling for her child's sake. A counselor can help her work through her anger and find ways to move forward. In the meantime, Mom, please be a safe haven and listening post for your granddaughter. She will need you.

Dear Annie: My husband's family calls often to invite him for dinner because they are serving something they know he likes. However, I am never invited. I get along well with his family and feel hurt that I am not included. Am I being childish and oversensitive, or is this rude? -- Sonny's Wife

Dear Wife: It's rude, but it's possible they think you aren't interested. It is OK for married children to spend time with the folks, without their spouses, but it shouldn't happen so often that it causes resentment. Your husband should have had the sense to bring you along. Next time they call with a dinner invite, say into the phone, "Oh, that sounds great! Can I come, too?"


"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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