Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Perplexed and Stifled

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: When I married my wife last summer, her son was living in the basement with no intention of getting a job. "Terence" is 23 and not exactly bright. We tried offering advice to help him move forward with his life, but he likes things his way. My wife excuses this, saying it's his generation's lifestyle. She told me her co-worker's daughter moved back home with her husband and baby, and they accept it. I know there are a lot of parents in the same situation.

Terence has decided he wants to move back to a town where he used to have friends, but my wife still wants to support him. So she is willing to continue paying for his car insurance, rent, spending money and trips to fast-food restaurants. He doesn't save a nickel. As soon as he gets money, he spends it.

I get the impression that my wife doesn't want to cut the apron strings. Terence likes having his mother support him. Money isn't the issue. It's that we won't be around forever, and at this rate, I don't see him ever growing up. He'll be the same when he's 50.

Counseling seems useless. I've been married with stepkids before. They didn't want me in their lives and acted as if they knew everything. Am I wrong to expect young adults to be independent? I love my wife, but she wants me to be quiet and not say anything. -- Perplexed and Stifled

Dear Perplexed: Of course Terence should be working, paying rent and becoming independent, but the person you need to convince is your wife. Please don't approach Terence directly. You have been a part of his life for only a short time, and chances are, your comments will be unwelcome and resented by both him and his mother. This is counterproductive. Instead, work on getting your wife to realize how much she is hurting Terence by being his enabler. That will make it easier for the two of you to present a united front in your efforts to get Terence to become a responsible adult.

Dear Annie: I have several friends who consistently and regularly interrupt me. They might ask a question, and when I start to answer, they talk over me nonstop. I have tried to continue talking anyway, but it is difficult. One even had the audacity to chastise me for interrupting her when I interjected a comment during a lull in the conversation. After that, I didn't speak to her for six months.

Other than avoiding these people whose general company I enjoy, how should I handle these interruptions? -- Michigan


Dear Michigan: Do they also interrupt each other, or only you? If they are nondiscriminatory in their behavior, you have the choice to avoid them or accept them as they are, meaning you are the listener and they are the talkers. However, if several of them do this only to you, we suggest you take a hard look at your conversational habits. Do you dawdle over words? Repeat yourself? Take a long time to get to your point? If so, your friends are still terribly rude, but you might try approaching them individually, explaining how much you would appreciate it if they could be patient with you.

Dear Annie: "Over-70 Attitude" didn't like receiving email Christmas and birthday greetings. I, too, am over 70 and recently stopped sending birthday cards to many on my list. I also have been encouraging others to stop sending cards to me because of the rising cost of purchasing those cards and putting stamps on them.

I'd rather receive an email wishing me a nice birthday with a short personal message than a pretty, fancy card with nothing but a signature on it. I doubt I'm the only person who feels this way. -- Over 70 in South Dakota


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2017. 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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