Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Florida Panhandle Mom

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: I'm worried about my 13-year-old son, "Brett." He is a student at a junior high where he is in the minority, and there are racially motivated issues on a daily basis. He always is on the defensive while at school and seems very angry about his environment.

The other day, I found a Confederate flag in Brett's room. He said his new friend, "Tom," gave it to him for history class, where they just finished up a unit on the Civil War. I also found a drawing of an eagle carrying a swastika. When I asked him about it, he said it was no big deal. He claims he is not a skinhead, neo-Nazi or member of a white supremacy group, but I don't like what I see.

Brett has had a few verbal altercations in the past with boys of different races. He says the way they act makes him mad, but he can't give me any specifics. His anger is intense during these moments. It is confusing, though, because two of his best friends are African-American and another is Hispanic.

I am looking for information that can help me talk to my son about Tom and the feelings he has toward those who are different. -- Worried Mom

Dear Worried Mom: Brett sounds very angry, and he may focus on race as the cause of his problems. You need to talk to him honestly and calmly about his feelings, and try to get to the bottom of his anger.

Brett's school may have cultural sensitivity training available, or you can look into local church groups, community programs and the YMCA. You might also consider getting Brett involved in activities that not only will diffuse his attraction to Tom, but also build up his confidence and self-esteem. Team sports often fill the bill, but also check out volunteer organizations or skill/adventure programs where Brett will feel useful, competent, empowered and even courageous. Good luck, Mom.

Dear Annie: I know it's a cliche that mothers warn their children to wear clean underwear in case they are in an accident and end up in the emergency room. I am an ER nurse, and I want to tell people that we don't care what you are wearing.

Just recently, a lovely lady called her family complaining of chest pain. Instead of phoning the rescue squad in her area, she took a shower, put on makeup and jewelry, and waited for her son to come and get her.

Well, Annie, she made a very attractive corpse. We don't know if she would have survived had she gotten to the ER sooner, but we certainly would have liked the opportunity to try and save her life.


Folks, we are trained to give you immediate care if you need it, so stop worrying about your appearance. You can clean up later. -- ER Nurse from Virginia

Dear ER Nurse: OK, readers, you heard it from the horse's mouth. If you need to get to the emergency room, don't dress as if you're going to be treated by the cast of "Grey's Anatomy." Just get there.

Dear Annie: We eat out a lot, and it is appalling the number of men who do not remove their hats when entering restaurants and eating their meal. I taught my sons to remove their head coverings when entering a building or eating at a table because it was good manners. My grandson said his girlfriend takes his cap off for him if he forgets. I say, good for her. It speaks well of her upbringing.

Have men stopped respecting others, or what? -- Florida Panhandle Mom

Dear Florida: It may seem so, but we suspect they simply are ignorant of the etiquette. According to Peggy Post, hat traditions may have originated in medieval times when knights lifted their face guard to show who they were, or in the days of the cowboys when a hat was removed to show there was no weapon hidden underneath. It became a sign of respect to others and remains so.


"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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