Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Need Help in Wisconsin

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: I'm in my mid-20s, and my sister is a junior in high school. "Tina" has always looked up to me as the "cool brother," and we've become buddies. I tell her my issues at work and my troubles with women, and she tells me far more than she does the rest of our family. We've grown to trust each other.

Last week when the mail arrived, my mother noticed that Tina had received an envelope from the county prison. Inside was a six-page soft-porn letter from a convicted felon who used to date one of Tina's friends. Mom also discovered that Tina had been accepting long-distance charges on her cell phone from the prison. My parents contacted the authorities, and the man won't write or call her again. They've also grounded Tina for a month.

I'm not that hurt by her lies of omission. She's just a kid, and I did some fairly stupid things at her age. But now I don't feel like telling her anything. I'm still nice to her, and we get along like we used to, but I've not told her about a few things that have happened in my life recently. Is this an OK way to handle it? -- Need Help in Wisconsin

Dear Wisconsin: Tina's behavior was terribly reckless. And we think you are more than a little upset that she didn't confide any of this to you and give her big brother the chance to protect her. You don't have to tell Tina everything. There are things she may be too young to appreciate. But please try to cultivate the closeness you had before, and let her know you wish she had told you about her correspondence with the inmate. You are in an excellent position to be a positive influence in her life.

Dear Annie: My stepson, "Joe," and his wife have cut off all communication with my husband and me, and we have no idea why. They have two small children of whom we are very fond. We have not seen them in more than a year.

It's possible Joe is punishing his father for some imagined slight, but we have no clue what it could be. We have always been kind, loving and generous to them and continue to send them cards on special occasions.

My husband says to let it go. Should we stop trying? There is no one to act as a go-between. They live about five hours away and continue to visit Joe's mother and her parents. We miss them very much. -- Brokenhearted

Dear Brokenhearted: You do have a go-between: Joe's ex-wife and her parents. Could you call them and find out what's going on? Explain how much you miss Joe and his family, and ask what you can do to fix this. It would be a shame to give up without trying every avenue available to you.


Dear Annie: "Upstate N.Y. Dad" said that the babysitter took his children on an unauthorized drive to the ice cream store. I agree that she was extremely irresponsible, but your response that the girl "showed terrible judgment, but that is not unusual for a 17-year-old" was a slap in the face for teenagers like me.

Many teenagers do wonderful, responsible things in their community. I organize a program in which musicians from my school go to various retirement centers and play for the elderly. I tutor every Wednesday. I bring home straight A's and do not drink, party or smoke.

That girl wasn't irresponsible because she was 17. She's irresponsible because she was raised by a parent who has no dignity or honesty. -- A Disappointed 15-Year-Old Girl

Dear Disappointed: Brava. We did not mean to give the impression that all teenagers are irresponsible -- only that the maturity to properly judge a situation takes time to develop. Obviously, you are already there. Thanks for sticking up for your peers.


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2018. 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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