Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Frustrated in Canada

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: My ex-husband and I share custody of two school-age children. They live with me primarily, and they spend one week per month with their father.

In the past few months, Dad has been removing the children from school for a few days so they can have "quality" time together. It's becoming more frequent, and I am concerned about it affecting their grades as well as their attitudes. My son quoted his father saying, "You will learn a lot more with me than you ever will at school."

I approached my ex and offered to have a set number of days when he can take the kids out of school. He brushed me off, saying I was worrying for nothing. This man likes to control things. I am hesitant to go the legal route because it would cause such animosity between us. Do I stand back and say nothing? -- Frustrated in Canada

Dear Frustrated: Does your children's school have a policy on how many days the kids can miss? Your best bet is to enlist the principal's help in addressing the problem and make the issue between Dad and the school -- and you stay out of it.

Sooner or later, excessive absences will affect the children's grades. If the kids don't want to do poorly, they might be able to get Dad to take their education more seriously. Otherwise, legal recourse may be your only other option. Please don't be afraid to go there.

Dear Annie: My also-single friend, "Judy," is very wealthy and recently asked me to take an expensive European trip with her, but it just wasn't in my budget.

Shortly after, Judy complained to me about paying upkeep on a resort condo I never knew about. She finally invited me to spend a week there instead of the Europe trip. She said I would need to pay half the gas, as we would be driving her car. That was fine. I even purchased a lovely gift as a thank you.

Our first night, Judy told me that we'd split everything 50-50, and added, "That means that if I order a $100 bottle of wine and you don't drink any, you still pay half because I pay upkeep on this condo." Then she told me I owed her for the wear and tear and insurance on her new luxury sedan. I was infuriated and flew home. I sent Judy a check for what she claimed I owed her and resolved never to see her again.

We didn't speak for three months, and then she called as if nothing had ever happened. I am moving soon to a city much closer to Judy, and she already is making plans to come visit. I'm usually willing to give someone a second chance, but I've never been treated like this. Should I tell her how I feel? -- Dissed


Dear Dissed: Well, you could bill her for the upkeep on your home, but we doubt you are that mean-spirited or cheap. First decide if you want to remain friends with Judy. If so, forgive her, but don't plan another trip together. If you don't care about her friendship, feel free to air your grievances. You'd have nothing to lose.

Dear Annie: This is for "Heartbroken," who was hurt that her mother-in-law referred to her as an "outlaw."

I have been a happy "outlaw" for 50 years, having been inducted into the outlaw fraternity by my mother-in-law. Now into the third generation, we have "Outlaw" pins for us and "We Love Outlaws" pins for them. Great fun! Each new outlaw receives an official membership card signed by the president and secretary. At the top of the card is a sphinx, with the motto "Silence -- Fortitude" beneath it.

I hope "Heartbroken" will turn her hurt into an opportunity for fun by forming an outlaw group for her family. -- Happy Outlaw

Dear Happy: A perfect example of making lemonade out of lemons. Thanks.


"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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