Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Wise Too Late

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: I have been a single mother for 20 years. Four months ago, I was talked into letting one of my daughter's friends stay with us while her parents searched for a new home in another state. They agreed to pay me a monthly stipend for their daughter's expenses. This has not happened. I received one check, and that was it. This girl's father makes plenty of money, and I am barely getting by.

I also discovered that the girl has a significant drug and alcohol problem, and it is influencing my daughter. Sad to say, I believe my child is following this girl down the same path. When my daughter decided my house rules were too strict, she packed her things, and she and her friend went to live with my ex-husband.

I don't believe my house rules are out of line. I told her no drugs, no alcohol, no profanity, and she has to keep her room clean. Of course, she has not told her father the real picture. She painted me as some kind of ogre. Should I have handled this differently? -- Indiana

Dear Indiana: Your ex-husband needs to know that your daughter's friend is drinking and doing drugs, and that your daughter may be experimenting, as well. Once she sees that Daddy's rules are not much different from Mom's, she may return home. If not, at least you know she is in a safe environment. Her friend's parents also should be aware of what their child is doing, whether they believe you or not. You can't do much about your missing payments unless the agreement was in writing. But shame on them for taking advantage of your generosity.

Dear Annie: I have a question about tipping. As a former waitress, I tip anywhere from 15 to 20 percent when I dine in a restaurant. However, I am stumped when it comes to tipping for carryout.

In order to cut back on expenses, we are eating out less and picking up more. Are we supposed to tip the clerk for a carryout? If so, what is the standard amount? -- Wisconsin

Dear Wisconsin: If the carryout order is small and uncomplicated, a tip is not mandatory. However, if the person putting it together has to add several condiments, plastic utensils and extra napkins, or if your order is particularly large or complicated, the usual rate is 5 to 10 percent. If there is curb service, 10 percent is the standard. Waitstaff and kitchen help don't make a lot of money as it is, so we are inclined to err on the generous side.


Dear Annie: "Sexually Frustrated" said his 30-year-old wife wasn't interested in sex. You listed any number of reasons and said he should get some counseling for himself. But suppose the problem is neither temporary exhaustion nor medical difficulty. For those who would never look for satisfaction outside the marriage, the best answer might be divorce.

Before I married my wife, we had a rich, active sex life. As soon as we said "I do," it fell into a drought. I considered all the possibilities you mentioned, but after more than two decades and three children, my wife admitted what I had suspected all along: She didn't love me and never had. Three or four times a year, she permitted intimacy and thought that was a great sacrifice on her part, as well as a generous fulfillment of her conjugal "obligation."

I stayed in the marriage for the sake of our children, but looking back, I believe we all would have been better served by divorce. Sexual satisfaction is not the most important thing in marriage, but the kind of relationship that sex can express is. Now I am old and rue the wasted years and the fundamental happiness I never experienced. -- Wise Too Late


"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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