Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Lost My Respect Forever

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: Something has happened, and I am unable to talk to anyone I know about it. I'm an adult woman, married and a grandmother. Recently, my father propositioned me.

I'm hurt, sickened and frightened to realize he has no respect for me, my husband or my mother. I have been a nervous wreck, staying locked in my house and screening all of our calls. I can't phone my mother for fear Dad might answer and I'd have to hear his voice. His apology means nothing to me, but I do care about my family. What can I do? I haven't told anyone. -- Lost My Respect Forever

Dear Lost Respect: Since you are a grandmother, we assume Dad is not exactly a youngster. He may have developed some form of dementia, or perhaps suffered a small stroke. It is not unusual for such circumstances to produce completely inappropriate, even bizarre, behavior.

Instead of believing your father is suddenly incestuous, consider that he may be physically ill. Don't be shy about bringing up his behavior with Mom, and tell her you are worried about Dad's health. Suggest she make an appointment for him with his physician as soon as possible.

Dear Annie: My 12-year-old daughter was supposed to visit her aunt in England in December. Because my daughter now needs braces, I e-mailed my sister-in-law to say that the trip will have to be postponed.

My sister-in-law replied that they would like to help and would send money every month toward the orthodontist's bill. I told her that she was the sweetest person in the world, and thanks, but we could manage on our own. Not a week later, we received three post-dated checks with a note asking us to forward our bank information so she could deposit the money directly into our account. Oh, and she added that we'd better cash the checks or she would be very cross.

My sister-in-law and her husband are wealthy people, and we are not, but we aren't poor, either. We don't want them to pay our bills. How do we refuse without hurting her feelings? -- Proud and Independent in Canada

Dear Canada: The way to refuse graciously is to return the post-dated checks along with a note saying, "You are so wonderful to offer to help pay for Susie's dental work, but we absolutely won't hear of it. As soon as we can, we will make arrangements for Susie to visit her marvelous aunt and uncle in England." Then, no matter what they say or do, repeat the first sentence until they give up. (We're wondering why they didn't offer instead to pay for her trip to England, which would be perfectly acceptable.)


Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Crushed Confidence in California," whose friends make her the "butt of ugly jokes." I have a 17-year-old daughter, and I know the age group. I also remember being teased a lot in high school, and I realized that an awful lot of people seem to need to be critical of others.

When my daughter was in middle school, this is what I taught her: Winners don't say bad things about people, but losers do. Criticizing other people makes losers feel better about themselves. Winners like to make you smile, but losers love to make others sad or angry.

To "Crushed," don't let the losers control you. Anyone who makes you feel bad about yourself is a loser, and you need to keep repeating that until you realize it's true. When they see you aren't allowing yourself to be controlled by them, they may initially try harder, but eventually they'll stop. So quit hanging around with the losers. Get yourself some real friends. -- Sharon in Royal Oak, Michigan

Dear Sharon: Good advice -- we hope all kids who are hanging around with these toxic friends will pay attention.


"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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