State, national lifestyle columnists

Should we leave our surly 17-year-old son home alone while we take a trip?

Dear Annie: My family recently went on vacation, and my 17-year-old son was an absolute pain. He refused to go swimming with us at the pool, saying it would be too boring. He wouldn’t wear a jacket and tie to dinner at the hotel’s five-star restaurant, and when I told him he wouldn’t be able to go in without them, he said, “Fine, I’ll get a sandwich somewhere else,” and that’s what he did. Whenever we went to the beach or shopping, he wouldn’t come along and instead toured the city on his own. When I said I didn’t care for his tone of voice, he gave me the silent treatment.

For the plane ride home, we got him a seat near the aisle so he could stretch out his legs. I told him, “You could at least say thank you.” Instead, he gave me a dirty look. When I saw that the woman next to him had a toddler who didn’t have his own seat, I made my son give up his, and the flight attendant gave him an empty seat near the bulkhead. I got another dirty look for that. I kept trying to ask whether he was OK, but he had the flight attendant tell me to leave him alone.

We’re planning to visit relatives this winter, and my son says he doesn’t want to go. I dread the idea of putting up with this nasty teenager who can’t appreciate any of the things we do for him. I want him to stay with his grandparents, but they’d rather not have him because he’s moody and they don’t like the way he dresses. I’d ask my brother, but I don’t want to have to reciprocate. Is it OK to let a 17-year-old stay home alone for 10 days? I have people who can check on him. — N.Y.

Dear N.Y.: Teenagers enjoy family vacations more than they let on, but not if the trips are geared entirely toward the parents’ preferences. Unless you are 100 percent certain that your son will be responsible for himself and the house, we don’t recommend leaving him without ongoing supervision for 10 days. See if you can get a trusted adult to move in for the duration. But we also suggest that you back off a bit. Your son reacts poorly to being fussed over in public by Mommy and Daddy. It embarrasses him.

Dear Annie: It seems like only yesterday that several people came by and offered to cut our grass, but no one ever actually cut it. Now the snow is here, and we are unable to shovel our walkway and make a path to the mailbox.

We are getting up in age and cannot do these things on our own. Hiring a professional costs more than we can manage on our Social Security. What a great thing it would be for neighbors to teach their children to come across the road with their big riding mower or snowplow and make a couple of sweeps across our yard. We would so appreciate the assistance. — No Name, No Location

Dear No Name: Even kids expect to be paid, although a good-hearted neighbor may shovel your snow and mow your lawn as a kindness, especially if they own a riding mower or snow blower. But also please check with your local church, which may provide such a service.

Dear Annie: “Lonely in Nova Scotia” says he has no luck with the ladies. I suggest he figure out what traits he really likes in a woman, find someone who has them and let her know how special she is to him. Then he should make sure he’s clean and his clothing is up to date. And he should show genuine interest in what she has to say and not just talk and expect her to laugh at his jokes. — Alone and Content

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.

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar


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