Dear Annie: My 19-year-old daughter has been "dating" a nice young man for three years. The problem is, he moved with his parents to another state two years ago.
Initially, they flew out to see each other, but that has stopped because he is a Mormon and he and his parents do not want him to be in the physical presence of my daughter (who has also become a Mormon). The kids aren't permitted to have sex before marriage, and apparently, his parents don't trust them to spend time together. So they have developed their relationship through e-mail, texting, Skyping and playing games on the Internet. They have not actually seen each other in a year. Her whole life seems to be on hold while they figure out how they can be together.
This seems to be avoiding the issue rather than facing it. As a parent, I am unhappy to see this kind of relationship. It seems over the top. He is withholding himself from her, and we don't know why she puts up with it. Why can't she have a normal relationship?
- Unhappy Mom
Dear Unhappy: A religious restriction on premarital sex is fairly common and hardly a bad thing. Long-distance relationships can be difficult, but frankly, if they are getting to know each other through other forms of communication, it could be the basis for an excellent friendship.
At this age, we agree they should not tie themselves up with someone who is essentially unavailable, but your daughter is 19 and an adult. You may not understand or agree with her choices, but they are hers to make, and we urge you not to be overly critical or it could backfire.
Dear Annie: One of my sons seems very self-centered. He and his family live across the country, and we travel to see them for brief, pleasant visits a few times a year, always taking them out to dinner. However, when Mother's Day or my birthday roll around, I'm lucky to get a phone call. Sometimes my son will say they're "trying to think of what to get me," but nothing ever materializes. I don't need expensive baubles, but a gift card to a restaurant would show they are thinking of me.
Right now, it feels as if I don't matter to them. My husband is treated the same way. We do have frequent telephone conversations with our son and daughter-in-law and feel part of their lives. But I'm tired of being the only one who remembers these special occasions. We get along very well, so I don't understand this.
- Grandma May Just Send Cards This Year
Dear Grandma: We suspect your son has an arrangement with his wife where she takes care of her parents and he handles his. Some men are notoriously bad at remembering birthdays and holidays, and this may be why you get the occasional phone call but little else. Since you have an otherwise wonderful relationship and don't need the gifts, please don't make this an issue.
Dear Annie: You recently printed responses to "Not Harold and Maude," who asked about relationships between older women and younger men. My wife, who is 14 years older than I am, left that column on my desk.
I know I am too late to chime in, but I wanted you to know that she is my jewel. I write words of love to her every day. When we first met (on a Friday), I handed her a rose, and I've given her a rose every Friday since. She told me that single rose means more than a dozen on Valentine's Day. She says I show my love every day and some women only hear it a few times a year. She's my love, my Friday Rose. -- Mike in Illinois
Dear Mike: Rest assured, it's never too late to chime in with adoring words like those.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.