Life Advice



Navigating Family Bonds With Care and Concern

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: I just read your response to the letter regarding the lack of appreciation for a wedding gift. While I completely agree that the couple should have sent thank-you notes, an awful thought crossed my mind. We just had our wedding last year, and we sent out combination personalized thank-you/holiday greeting cards to our friends and family.

What if some of these got lost in the mail? The thought made me sick that someone might be harboring bad feelings toward us even though we tried to be heartfelt, gracious and timely with our cards. How would we even know? -- Thankful

Dear Thankful: Lost in the mail is always a possibility. I suppose if you are really worried that someone did not get your thank-you note, then you could ask them. But my suggestion is to block out this thought and just assume everyone received your combination greeting cards. I would only bring it up if someone asks you about it.

Dear Annie: My son has been dating a woman for three years. They have been living together for two of those years. From the beginning, my gut told me that this woman is not right for my son, but I've worked hard to be kind to her for his sake. My husband and I recently FaceTimed them, and we both noticed how the girlfriend sat behind him and mockingly laughed at my son. My husband confronted her during the conversation, to which she promptly clammed up. My husband and mother have both expressed their reservations about this woman, confirming that I'm not just an overinvolved mother.

Annie, how do I respectfully alert my son to our misgivings about this woman? Since there is a good chance they will get engaged this year, I'm afraid time is ticking! -- Time is Ticking

Dear Ticking: Mocking is never OK, and you have every right to be concerned. Take your son out to lunch and see how he is doing. Don't bring up his girlfriend at all; just check in with him and see how he is feeling. At the end of the day, your son can marry who he wants, but you do have the right to be concerned if she is being mean to him.

Dear Annie: During this horrible cold spell we are experiencing, I would encourage your readers who love animals to please make an effort to help animals in need. For instance, for those who take care of stray cats, put out a shelter for them until the weather is better. It's now they need you the most. An old Igloo cooler with a hole to enter with straw (not hay or blankets) works great. Place under an evergreen or a secluded place.


I put a kitty door in our shed. In it we have a few boxes I threw together (Home Depot cuts lumber for free; all you need are dimensions and nails or screws). I even took a few very heavy boxes and filled them with straw, making sure it was not going to get wet.

When it comes to birds, it is now they depend on us most. They need high-quality food with protein, and water, so I suggest keeping water dishes open to drink.

Besides, this will help your own health, because all these efforts are good for your soul and healthy ways to keep moving when it's -10, as it is where I live. Brr, gotta run -- my suet feeders are running low! -- Hungry Pets

Dear Hungry Pets: I love this letter encouraging us to take care of those who can't take care of themselves. Children and animals need our help and protection. Thank you for your letter.


"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




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