Annie's Mailbox: Annoyed Aunt
Dear Annie: Within the past four years, my sister and her husband adopted two babies from foreign countries. They think because these children are adopted, everyone should adore them, regardless of how they behave.
The kids are now 3 and 5 and still do not know the meaning of the word "no." My sister bribes and threatens but never follows through. They are not punished for their misbehavior. Consequently, they are brats.
Our other siblings don't want to be around my sister and her family because they refuse to discipline their kids. How can we let her know? -- Annoyed Aunt
Dear Aunt: Many adoptive parents are tentative about disciplining children who arrived in their lives so fortuitously. And some children from foreign countries have attachment issues and other emotional problems that require careful handling. Nonetheless, proper discipline gives children a sense of security, and your sister may not realize she is shortchanging them by not setting limits.
If you think your sister will listen to you, suggest family counseling. She can find culture-appropriate counseling help through the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (naic.acf.hhs.gov), 330 C St., SW, Washington, D.C. 20447.
Dear Annie: A month ago, I attended an informal family gathering. Four of us women, all related, were having a very pleasant conversation when the hostess, "Jenny," said, "The three of us should go to a movie together sometime," then pointed to her mother and my niece, excluding me. No one responded to her.
About a month before, Jenny did the same thing, inviting some of us, but pointedly leaving me out. I am the same age as Jenny, and most people think I'm easy to get along with. Jenny is a sensible and intelligent woman, and I always thought my relationship with her was fairly good.
In my opinion, Jenny's invitations and finger-pointing were quite crudely insulting, disrespectful and rather juvenile. I would appreciate your opinion and any advice you may have. -- Left Out Sister-in-Law
Dear Left Out: Yes, Jenny was insulting, disrespectful and extremely juvenile. People often treat family members worse than strangers because they expect to be forgiven unconditionally. It doesn't, however, give them license to hurt others.
It would be best if a third party, perhaps Jenny's mother, would tell her to knock it off. If that is not possible, go ahead and let Jenny know that publicly excluding you is hurtful. Tell her if she prefers to socialize with certain people and not others, she should be courteous enough to invite them privately.
Dear Annie: My sister is a beautician who has her own business. She used to cut my hair, but it was never a priority for her. Even though I always paid her, she would cut my hair only when she felt like it. She also closes her shop at 3 p.m.
I work at two jobs and have to look presentable and neat around business customers. I finally got so tired of waiting for Sis to fit me in that I began going to someone else. Now, when she sees that I have had my hair done, and not by her, I get the cold shoulder. She says she is losing money.
I've suggested that she stay open later, and I've also mentioned that her schedule makes it difficult for me to get an appointment, but I've gotten nowhere. My current beautician stays opens until 7 p.m., which is perfect for me.
How can I make my sister understand that her business hours are the problem, and that my hair isn't going to wait for her? -- Needs a Haircut in the Northeast
Dear Haircut: You are not responsible for your sister's business. If she is unwilling to broaden her hours, she limits her clientele. You are entitled to get your hair cut wherever and whenever you wish. Stop worrying about pleasing her.
"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 www.creators.com.