Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Fed Up with Family

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: Adults are supposed to set a good example, but I literally can't go anywhere without seeing adults smoking. That is not surprising because in West Virginia alone, more than one in four adults smoke. It is no wonder that across the country more than 3,500 kids will try their first cigarette today.

Thankfully, states across the U.S., including mine, are enacting laws to deter smoking, including implementing smoke-free facilities, creating tobacco taxes and establishing tobacco-prevention programs. However, I know tobacco companies are still finding ways to hook kids on smoking.

I am not the kind of guy to just stand by when something bothers me, so for the past few years, I have worked with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, letting people in my town know that Big Tobacco is still targeting teens. We need to do more to pass state laws protecting kids and to send a message to tobacco companies that we know what they are doing.

One way your readers can get involved is by visiting to learn more about what is being done in their own state and how they can help. -- Zachary Morris, age 19, Smithers, W.V.

Dear Zachary Morris: Bless you for taking on this lifesaving cause. We hope your letter will inspire others to become involved. Thank you on behalf of so many.

Dear Annie: When I was 5, I had to live with my dad and my stepmother, "Joann," who was physically, emotionally and verbally abusive. After 12 years, I left to live with my biological mom.

My relationship with Joann has been tenuous at best. She didn't bother to attend my high school or college graduations. When I married, she not only refused to come, but tried to keep my father away, as well. The two of them have been absentee grandparents to my sons, their only grandchildren, who are now 15 and 20.

Joann decided to retire early, which meant they wanted money from my siblings and me every month. My husband said absolutely not. Since then they have quit calling, and I haven't spoken to them in eight months. She recently told my brother that I called and yelled at her, which is completely untrue.


I've had a couple of minor health scares recently. I'm tired of trying to please these two utterly self-centered people. I do not feel like extending the "olive branch" yet again, but part of me feels guilty because they are getting older. What would you do? -- Fed Up with Family

Dear Fed Up: Extending an olive branch doesn't mean handing out cash. If the only thing your father values in this relationship is money, we don't see the point. Since you apparently still want some type of contact with your father, however, we recommend you take the finances off the table. Call Dad if you like. Send chatty letters and e-mails with updated family news, and expect nothing in return. You will be an attentive daughter and will have no reason to feel guilty.

Dear Annie: This is for "L.W.," whose son has bipolar disorder, a recognized mental health disorder. He is entitled to mental health care, which includes medication.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act sought to ensure that people with mental health disorders get the same coverage from their insurance companies as those with physical disorders. Readers can contact the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services at 1-877-267-2323 for more information. The son should be able to get help through his state's Department of Mental Health. And his physician may also be able to offer referrals for help or resources. -- K in Massachusetts


"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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