Dear Annie: A year ago, my son ended his marriage to a woman I liked very much. Since then, he has become engaged to "Julia."
Julia has no social graces. She doesn't look at you when you speak to her and never says "please" or "thank you." In fact, she rarely speaks at all. I recently spent an entire day at her apartment, and she never said a word. She watched TV and made herself lunch (without asking whether I wanted anything).
My son says Julia is afraid of people and is working on her shyness. I realize I have no say in the matter, but they are planning to marry soon, and I don't think it's a good idea. I worry my son is on the rebound. I don't like this girl, and I've tried. I've taken her out to eat and attempted to engage her in conversation, to no avail. She is borderline rude to me, and I think she has some mental health issues, as well.
My son constantly asks me what I think of Julia. I'm afraid if I voice my opinion, I will lose him, but it feels as if I am lying. What should I do?
- Loving Mother
Dear Mother: There are ways to voice your opinion diplomatically. Don't criticize Julia. Simply say you are concerned that they are rushing into marriage, and while it is not uncommon for this to happen after a divorce, it often ends badly. Tell him he and Julia deserve to take the time to be sure they are making the right decision because, hopefully, it is for the rest of their lives. Then do the best you can to find something to like about the girl. Draw her out by giving her a small compliment and then asking her to assist you with something, handing out sincere smidgens of praise as you go. She needs to know she is safe with you.
Dear Annie: My 24-year-old grandson was diagnosed as bipolar several years ago. He also has hallucinations that people are trying to kill him. He lives at home, sees a psychologist and a psychiatrist, and is on medication.
His parents can't get any help for him. Doctors don't want to talk to them about him, and there seems to be no place they can go. They live in Phoenix. Can you help?
- California Grandmother
Dear California: If your grandson already is seeing a psychologist and a psychiatrist and is on medication, we're not sure what additional help you are looking for. If the medication isn't working, that should be discussed with the psychiatrist. However, families also need emotional support. Please suggest they contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (http://nami.org) or NAMI Arizona at 800-626-5022 and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (www.dbsalliance.org) at 800-826-3632.
Dear Annie: This is for "Looking Vs. Imagining," who claims women like to read romance novels and it's the same as men looking at porn. I am a woman, and I do not care for romance novels in the least. I like murder mysteries. (I am not sure what that indicates about my "fantasies.")
I doubt very much that romance readers seek the kind of titillation that attracts porn viewers. Romance novels typically have endings that leave the characters living happily ever after - it's all about love and commitment, which is the antithesis of porn. I think people who like romance fiction are probably seeking order and happiness in a chaotic world.
- Miss V.
Dear Miss V.: An interesting theory. Thanks for sharing it.
Annie's Snippet for Patriot Day (Credit Adlai Stevenson): When an American says that he loves his country, he means not only that he loves the New England hills, the prairies glistening in the sun, the wide and rising plains, the great mountains and the sea. He means that he loves an inner air, an inner light in which freedom lives and in which a man can draw the breath of self-respect.
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.