Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Perplexed Parents

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: Our son has been dating "Nicole" for several years. She has two teenage daughters from a previous marriage. Although they live several hours from us, my husband and I have done everything to make "Nicole" feel welcome.

Last Christmas, she and her daughters opened their gifts, tossed them aside and went to watch TV. In May, I sent her a Mother's Day card wishing her a nice day with her kids. She responded with an e-mail saying that since her mother passed away, she no longer celebrates Mother's Day. A month later, she was in an accident and spent a few days in the hospital. We sent flowers and wishes for a speedy recovery. Our son said the flowers were not her favorite so she threw them out.

Two months ago, my son proposed to Nicole. We sent a nice engagement gift with a note saying we would be happy to help with the wedding preparations. After two weeks, I asked my son whether the gift had arrived. He said, "Yes. It's sitting on the table. She hasn't got around to opening it." A day later she sent an e-mail that said, "I will be making my own decisions about the wedding." No mention of the gift.

Last week, the two lovebirds came to a family event at our home. I mentioned to Nicole that I have an antique bridal veil that is a family heirloom, and I would be honored to let her borrow it if she wished. She said it was "too old-fashioned."

Our son shrugs off Nicole's behavior. I understand that marrying her is his choice and not ours. Are we approaching this wrong? -- Perplexed Parents

Dear Perplexed: No, you have been very accommodating. Nicole simply seems rude and unkind, and the relationship will not get better unless your son demands it. Please continue to be welcoming, but back off a bit so she doesn't feel smothered. Don't make suggestions or offer opinions about the wedding. She is not receptive or appreciative. Instead, find things to compliment about her plans so she is less insecure about her status and taste. Nicole is likely to be a difficult daughter-in-law. Our sympathies.

Dear Annie: I am a 57-year-old male in good health and physical shape. I have been divorced for 26 years. I have not been on a date in three years. This is not because I don't wish to date, but because I don't want to just go through the motions.

I am close to my children and family members, and I know they care about me and don't want me to be alone. The problem is, they constantly say, "You must lower your standards if you want to find someone." What are my standards? Simply put, I have no desire to be with someone I am not physically attracted to. They don't think this should matter, and maybe they have a point, but it's my decision. I have no problem waiting for the right person and realize it may never happen.


I love my family and don't want to hurt their feelings. Other than rudely telling them to "butt out," how can I get them to stop? -- Enough

Dear Enough: As long as you understand that you may be missing out on some terrific partners for superficial reasons, this is entirely your choice. It is not rude to say, "I know you love me and mean well, but I need to make my own decisions, whether you agree or not. Please stop commenting on my social life."

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Omerta in New York," who sent a monetary gift to a friend in financial straits, insisting that he use it to buy a "luxury" item. She was offended when he used it to pay an outstanding bill.

I wonder whether she ever considered that, to her friend, knowing he would have electricity or telephone use for the next month might be a luxury. Ending their 40-year friendship over this is certainly her loss. -- Cherish Your Friends


"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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