Dear Annie: I am a 13-year-old girl, and I love reading your column. I hope you can help me. My uncle “Ted” got a divorce and had to sell his house. My family was happy to let him stay with us until he found a new home. That was two years ago, but none of us seems to mind.
Here’s the actual problem: Uncle Ted has two daughters who come over every other weekend. I love having my cousins here, but they are slobs. Their mother allows them to be this way at home, and they’ve brought that same sense of “style” to our house. They both sleep in my room and are amazingly messy. They never make their beds or put their dirty clothes in the laundry room, and by the time they leave, my room looks like a pigsty.
How do I tell them to clean up their act? — My Room, Not Theirs
Dear My Room: First talk to your parents. They undoubtedly have rules for their home, and your cousins’ behavior should be included. Explain the problem to them and ask for their help. But you also can speak up. It’s your room. It’s OK to tell your cousins that you expect them to share the cleanup as well as the fun.
Dear Annie: Years ago, some dear friends asked us to invest in their son’s new business. They said all the partnership agreements, contracts, etc., were finalized. Mutual friends advised us not to give them any money. They said there were rumors floating around about our friends’ credibility. We thought they were mistaken. We were idiots.
We gave their son several thousand dollars. The business lasted for two months. There was no contract or partnership agreement. Our money was lost, and because they were our friends, we forgave them. We didn’t realize they were con artists. They took our money and bought a luxury car and a second home.
They’ve been sued five times in the past 12 years, mostly for failed “business ventures.” I finally wised up and ended the friendship when I caught them trying to extort money from a department store by claiming the wife slipped on the floor when I knew she hadn’t. Instead of seeing a doctor, she went on vacation.
Please tell your readers to do due diligence if they plan to participate in any business venture with friends or family. An attorney and proper legal documents are mandatory, and they should never take someone’s word for it. Don’t make our mistake. We thought we were helping our “friends.” As it turned out, they were helping themselves to our pockets. — Wiser but Sadder
Dear Wiser: Your letter serves as a cautionary tale for anyone who is considering investing in a friend’s or a relative’s business. Even people who aren’t con artists can mess up the paperwork, leaving you at risk. If the statute of limitations hasn’t expired, please consider seeking damages from your “friends” for their fraudulent practices.
Dear Annie: I hope you can make room for one more response to “S.W.,” the father who disowned his daughter. How sad that he would give up a relationship because of a “falling out,” and worse, that the whole issue boils down to money.
My father disowned me 18 years ago because of a disagreement. He refused to talk further about the situation because he was convinced he was right, and that was all that mattered. I didn’t matter, and neither did our relationship.
There are so many things that are more important than money. I feel sorry for my father that he missed being a part of my wonderful life and knowing my incredible children and grandchildren. — Still Sad in Pennsylvania
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.