Dear Annie: Our daughter is going down a bad road, and our 13-year-old granddaughter, “Lana,” is in the driver’s seat.
Lana has been diagnosed with ADHD, but since we live in another state, we have no way of knowing whether she’s staying on her meds. I’ve heard from my wife that Lana has been destroying furniture and is physically and verbally abusing her mother. At one point, she snatched her mom’s cellphone out of her hand while she was calling for help.
Here’s another layer of trouble: We know our daughter has had drug abuse issues in the past, and we suspect she’s on some harder stuff now. She is losing weight at an alarming rate, her teeth are going bad, and she’s just been kicked out of her apartment – for the fourth time in less than two years.
This is stressing the entire family, even though we’re hundreds of miles away. What can we do? How do we cope with this? — Worried and Wondering
Dear Worried: Is Lana’s father in the picture? Is he reliable? Would he be willing to ask for custody? Would you be willing to take the girl in if her mother is on drugs? We know Lana is a handful, but part of the reason is because her mother may not be a competent parent. We urge you to make a trip to see your daughter and assess the situation. You also might want to alert Lana’s school to the home issues. There is support for friends and relatives of addicted children. Contact Nar-Anon (nar-anon.org) at 800-477-6291.
Dear Annie: For the past 30 years, my brother-in-law, “Bob,” has spent the holidays with us, staying for a week or more. He has never offered to take us out to lunch, dinner or anything else. In fact, the last time we went out together, he somehow left his credit card at home when the bill arrived, so we paid, as usual. (How does anyone travel 1,000 miles without a credit card?)
Everyone else I know makes it a regular practice to offer to take the hosts out for a meal or at the very least pitch in for groceries. When we are guests, we do this. It is courteous, polite and proper. Are we just old-fashioned?
How do we handle Bob’s inability to find his pockets? Should we mention ahead of time that diners will be paying for their own meals? My husband has never brought this up with his brother, but I think it’s time Bob became a good guest. He is single, well-educated and lives comfortably. Should we just come out and tell him? It would be difficult to do without ruffling a few feathers. — New Hampshire
Dear New Hampshire: How does your husband feel about this? Bob is being a freeloader, but if your husband prefers not to confront him (and can afford it), we think you should let him decide the issue. Otherwise, since he’s family, and you will continue to host him, it’s OK to approach Bob with a lighthearted touch and say that it’s his turn to pick up the tab on the next outing.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Frustrated,” whose new husband, “Kevin,” won’t let her buy her own stuff. If he is a control freak, they need counseling, or if necessary, she can get the marriage annulled. Life is too short to live like that.
If it were up to my husband, we’d never have anything decent around here. I’ve replaced some of his and my old stuff and learned to stand up to him. It’s not healthy to be married and feel like you are living out a prison sentence.
Assuming she’s not trying to buy high-end expensive stuff, she needs to ask herself: Would she let a friend treat her that way? No. — Happily Married 20 Years to a Pack Rat
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.