Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Hurting Mother

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: My 54-year-old daughter, "Susan," has been angry with me since she was a teenager. I have tried to question her about why she hates me so much, but she won't discuss it. She is married to a controlling man who shares her feelings and recently told the family to "go to hell." Susan has a sweet daughter who appears to be a special needs child, although we've never been told what the problem is.

My husband recently died, and it devastated me. On the day of the funeral, the entire family came to my house. Several people were bothered by our dog, so I confined him to the porch and told the children to leave the dog alone.

I was sitting in the parlor when I heard the commotion in my kitchen. My granddaughter had unlocked the door and put her face next to the dog's nose, and he bit her. The parents were not watching the child. After a trip to the hospital for stitches, I was assured that she would totally heal.

Susan told me to file a claim with my insurance company because she plans to sue me. I have had many sleepless nights dealing with this and fearing I might lose my house. I've also lost my granddaughter because Susan and her husband will have nothing to do with the family any longer.

Is there a chance of saving any part of this relationship? -- Hurting Mother

Dear Hurting: Our condolences on the loss of your husband. We know you are still grieving, and that undoubtedly explains why you confined the dog to the porch but neglected to lock access. This, unfortunately, contributed to the accident. Even closely supervised children can get into all kinds of mischief. We are relieved that your granddaughter will heal completely, but her parents are upset and angry (with themselves as well as with you).

Your insurance company should be able to cover any claim Susan makes, so please stop worrying about your home. As for the relationship, Susan sounds difficult, and you may not be able to salvage much. But it might go a long way if you sincerely apologize and ask them to forgive you for not being more careful.


Dear Annie: I'm having a milestone birthday soon and am inviting several people to a party. I'm looking forward to it. My concern is how to approach the people who will be disappointed that I didn't invite them. Some may get angry. What do I say? I'm not sure if it is proper to say I can't afford more people. -- California

Dear California: We don't recommend notifying people in advance that they won't be invited to your party. But if someone should find out later and become upset, simply say, "I'm so sorry I couldn't include all of the people I care about."

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Need Another Opinion," who is reluctant to take in his wife's disabled siblings. In my state, we have California Mentors, part of a national organization where heavily screened families are trained to oversee the daily activities of various levels of developmentally disabled adults. I always knew that when my mom's health gave out my beloved sister would live with me. She is sweet and articulate, and is profoundly deaf, has epilepsy and is borderline mentally handicapped.

After more than a decade of dealing with defrosted refrigerators, sticky carpets and an infinite number of medical appointments, my blood pressure skyrocketed. I fought against putting my sister in a group home until one of our local health organizations found Mentors. Now my sister lives nearby and adores her newfound freedoms and roommates. And my husband and I have our lives back. -- Both Sisters Happy


"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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