Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Feeling Helpless and Depressed

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: My husband and I have been married for 35 years. We have two adult children who have been a wonderful part of our lives.

My daughter, 33, moved out after high school. She did not complete her college degree and moved back home. She is working a three-hour-a-day job that takes care of her bills and personal expenses.

Our 30-year-old son, "Perry," is kind and loving. He was a star athlete in high school but has since been in trouble with drugs, in jail twice, fathered a beautiful baby (the mother is in prison for another 10 months), did a year at a sober living residence (we raised the child) and now he's back home -- and messing up again. He's lazy, drinking and not attending court-assigned DUI classes. He is, however, a loving father to his 2-year-old son.

Perry has not seriously looked for a job because he says he can't drive for another year (two DUI tickets) and he "can't work construction without driving." He is hanging out with a girl who is not a positive influence. He doesn't have any money, so we can't charge him rent for living at home. He takes care of his son and sometimes helps around the house.

My husband just retired and is sick of the kids still living here. I am lucky to have my job (my sanctuary). We can't kick Perry out in the streets with no money and no job, nor do my husband and I want to start all over again raising a baby.

My husband says counseling won't help, even if we could get Perry to go, which I doubt. We have threatened but have not followed through with action. I don't understand where we have gone wrong, and I don't know what to do. -- Feeling Helpless and Depressed

Dear Helpless: You need to take back control of your lives. First, charge rent to your daughter, who will then be motivated to find a better job, and if you make it less cushy for her at home, she may even move out. Your son is a separate problem.

Contact B.I.L.Y. ( at P.O. Box 2062, Winnetka, CA 91396-2062. This is an organization for parents of troubled children of any age.

Dear Annie: My husband works long hours at a computer job that he loves. The problem is that many people, from casual acquaintances to old friends, abuse his knowledge. We get several calls a week asking how we are doing and then, "Oh, by the way, could you help me with my computer?"


My husband has helped several people set up their businesses or fix problems with their home computers. We are rarely compensated for his time and knowledge even though he mentions his hourly wage to them. It would be nice if these "users" offered some service we could take in exchange, but it never works out that way.

What can my husband say to these insensitive people to get them to think twice before calling us for free help? -- Frustrated in Sarasota, Florida

Dear Florida: The words your husband needs are, "Sorry, I can't help you now, but you can schedule an appointment through my office." And if they do, he should make sure to send them a bill.

Dear Annie: Please do NOT suggest to your readers that they leave a note or letter in someone's mailbox. This is a federal crime. -- Whitefish, Montana

Dear Whitefish: You are right. According to the U.S. Postal Service, it is illegal to put a letter in someone's mailbox unless there is a proper stamp on it. Readers, we don't want you to get into trouble. If you need to leave a note for your neighbors, tape it where it is visible, tuck it between the screen and the door, or put a stamp on it.


"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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