Dear Annie: I am 13, and my parents are divorced. I moved in with my father eight months ago, but soon realized that Dad is an alcoholic. We lived in a nice apartment for a while, and he seemed to be doing well, but I had no idea how addicted he was until the landlord evicted us. I moved in with my aunt and will have to move back in with my mother soon.
Dad is not my biological father, but he raised me. He’s the only father I’ve known. But I think he’s trying to buy my love. He never leaves me alone and is always telling me how much better things will be. But he’s lying to my face. I happen to know that when he tells me he’s at work, he’s drinking at a bar.
I don’t want to discuss it with him. If he wants to be in my life, he has to quit drinking. Otherwise, I’m done with him. Am I wrong? — Nevada
Dear Nevada: Please understand that giving up alcohol is not an easy thing for your father. We are certain he is struggling with it. Nonetheless, you should not be living with him until he can provide a stable, healthy home environment. Please look into Alateen (al-anon.alateen.org) for kids whose parents have alcohol problems. Alateen will provide information, as well as support.
Dear Annie: I sent my children to a Christian school so they could get a quality education along with faith and good values. Sadly, it hasn’t been the experience I was wishing for. This school has more bullying than a public school.
Bullying is not just saying horrible things to each other or hitting. It also is being left out and not feeling welcome. Kids at this school who are not sports stars or whose families don’t have money are outsiders. The saddest part is that it is not only the students. There are also parents who refuse to acknowledge the less well-off parents at school events.
Many children have transferred out of this school because of the bullying. I was taught that you treat others how you want to be treated. Each child is an individual and should be respected as such. I am sure other parents have these same concerns, but no one speaks up. I ask that all parents set a good example for their children and pay attention to what they may or may not be doing. Is your child being a bully? Are you teaching them to judge others by what they look like or how much money they have? Is this your school? — Sad Parent in Nebraska
Dear Nebraska: No school comes with a guarantee that the behavior of the parents and children will be exemplary. Bullying occurs everywhere. It is important that you teach your child how to deal with intimidating behavior from others and that school administrators and teachers are aware of the problem so they can address it. Ultimately, parents must do what is best for their children, and sometimes that means moving them to a different school where they can prosper.
Dear Annie: This is for “Hurting Daughter-in-Law,” whose in-laws never liked her and have cut off the grandchildren.
I married my husband 54 years ago. His parents were not happy and let me know it. My husband said to ignore it, and I tried, but they undermined me, blatantly favored his sister’s children and worked to destroy our marriage. After his parents died, my husband finally admitted that they had kept up an unrelenting stream of criticism about me, hoping we’d divorce.
One of my kids is completely alienated from me because of her grandparents’ subtle inferences that I “treated her differently” from her siblings. She was my gentle, insecure baby, and they destroyed her trust. — Wish I Had Left
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.