Dear Annie: I am a 56-year-old male dating a woman with a 13-year-old son. We plan to marry in the near future.
The boy has no relationship with his father and is very fond of me, as I am of him. The problem is that he’s a mama’s boy. I think he is jealous of me. He competes for his mother’s attention and goes so far as to crawl into bed with us in the morning in order to snuggle with her. When we sit on the sofa, he joins us and places his mother’s arm around his neck as if to say, “Hey, what about me?”
I’ve tried to ignore this behavior, but it is starting to wear on me. My girlfriend sees nothing wrong with it, saying they have always been close and it’s always been just the two of them. But I think this isn’t quite right. I want her son to grow up a bit.
I raised three children and never experienced this type of thing with my kids. I feel she needs to do something to curb this behavior. Am I being insecure or territorial or something? I love my girlfriend and don’t want this to be an issue, but I have no idea what to do. Any suggestions? — Don’t Want a Contest
Dear Contest: Many boys at 13 are still children, and the cuddling with Mommy is not indicative of an aberration. However, this is also a time when Mom should be setting sensible boundaries and gently discouraging too much intimacy. Some boys can confuse their love for Mom with their developing sexual feelings. Please approach this carefully. Suggest that the two of you talk to the boy’s pediatrician about appropriate behavior, and make sure your girlfriend understands that her son’s long-term best interests must take precedence. For information and assistance, we suggest the National Stepfamily Resource Center at stepfamilies.info.
Dear Annie: I married a wonderful widower nine months ago. We are both in our 60s, and he treats me like a queen.
”Vern’s” previous marriage of 34 years was a great one. When we married, he had lots of photos of his late wife. He thoughtfully removed them, but what upsets me is that he put a lot of them, including their wedding picture, in his home office where he spends 40 hours a week. Worse, the centerpiece of his bookshelves is the urn with her ashes.
I told Vern I thought this was a little odd, but he said it would be disrespectful to put her ashes in a closet. What do you think? — Second Wife
Dear Wife: Vern was thoughtful enough to remove these photos from your presence, and his office is his own private space. And we can understand why he wouldn’t want to stick the urn in a closet. You can gently encourage Vern to scatter his late wife’s ashes somewhere that has significance for him or ask whether he’d like to bury them. But if he is resistant, we suggest you leave this alone. Neither the photos nor the ashes are in your shared space. You have no reason to be jealous.
Dear Annie: “Frustrated in Michigan” said she sent her college-aged nieces very generous checks and didn’t get a thank-you note. She then called the mother of one of the recipients to see whether it had been lost. The check was then cashed, but still no thank-you note.
In a situation like this, I wonder whether the giver is begging for attention. The gift was unsolicited. It almost seems as if the nieces are saying, “No, thanks, I’d rather do this myself.” I have been the recipient of unasked-for gifts, and they almost always come with strings attached. — No Strings for Me
Dear Strings: If a gift comes with unwanted strings, it need only be returned – along with a note of thanks. But not to send any acknowledgement at all is extremely inconsiderate.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.