Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Baffled in El Paso, Texas

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: All my life I have been there for my parents, doing everything I could for them. My husband and I shared holidays with them, traveled with them, cared for them through many illnesses and included them in everything we did. My father became ill five years ago and was in and out of the hospital many times. I cooked, took him to his doctor's visits, babysat him, fed him, etc. You get the picture.

On the other hand, my sister, "Claire," always has declared that she owes my parents nothing. My mother and she have had disagreements that have kept them from speaking for months at a time. Claire wrote me so many hateful letters and ugly e-mails that I just cut my losses and moved on. We have no relationship. She refused to visit Dad before he died, saying she had other things to take care of.

The week before Dad passed away, Claire decided to renew her relationship with my mother. She began calling Mom several times a day, and before long, the two of them became "best friends."

At the first anniversary of Dad's death, Mom and Claire planned a huge family get-together. Distant cousins were invited -- but not me. Last week, I received an e-mail from my mother saying she was selling her house and moving closer to Claire.

My mother is 85. Why would a parent do this to a child she supposedly loves? -- Baffled in El Paso, Texas

Dear Baffled: It's unfair, but some parents, when given the opportunity to renew a relationship with a prodigal child, bend over backward to do so. Also, your mother is 85, and her faculties may be somewhat dulled, making her vulnerable to Claire's manipulations. And, of course, Claire, having been in your shadow for years, now sees her chance to be the favorite child, and she doesn't want you to mess it up.

You cannot make your mother love you more or love Claire less. Try to keep the lines of communication open. If Mom is being well cared for by your sister (and you should check), we're sorry to say that's the most you can hope for right now.

Dear Annie: I have a problem with my in-laws. They judge everyone by how obese they are. We can't go anywhere with them, because if they see a heavy person, they are sure to make some comment about how "disgusting" the person is and how much weight he/she should lose.

One of their sons-in-law is obese, and he refuses to attend family gatherings because of their comments. I, too, am overweight and am trying to deal with it through diet and exercise. But my in-laws' behavior has reached the point where I don't want to be around them, either.


How can I tell them that their comments hurt my feelings? -- Frustrated

Dear Frustrated: In plain English. Inconsiderate, judgmental people need to be told clearly that their behavior is inappropriate. Your husband should be the one to let his parents know that their comments are hurtful and disrespectful, and if they can't put a lid on it, they will be seeing much less of you, no matter how much you weigh.

Dear Annie: I got a chuckle when I read the letter from "Looking Out for Fido," the veterinarian who advised against feeding table scraps to the dog.

My vet feeds my dog table scraps all the time. That's because the vet is my son. He figures table scraps are no worse than the armadillo carcasses our dog drags home, or the snake the dog killed and ate last weekend.

Dogs are not all the same. What is unhealthy for a toy poodle in Manhattan might not bother a 70-pound bulldog in the north Florida woods. I suggest your readers ask their own vets about their particular dogs' needs. -- A Mom in Florida

Dear Mom: We agree they should ask their vets, but it's always better to err on the side of caution. Our best to the Florida bulldog.


"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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