Dear Annie: I have been married to “Glenn” for 18 years, and we have two teenage daughters. Three years ago, we bought a new home so we could have a larger family room.
Glenn always wanted a plasma TV, so when we moved into the new house, he bought one. The problem is, he considers it his alone. He won’t let the girls watch anything on it, saying the TV was not made for “shows like that.” He becomes angry if we watch when he’s not home. One time he went out of town on business and took the power cord with him.
When Glenn watches TV, we aren’t allowed to make any noise. Of course, when guests come over, he’s a different person. He shows off the TV and will watch whatever the guests want.
Now the girls and I watch TV in another room in the house or do other activities. It’s sad when your children think their father would rather watch his 3-year-old toy than spend time with them. What can I do to bring my family back together — other than breaking the plasma TV?
— Not a Fan
Dear Not: We assume you’ve spoken to your husband about his fixation on the idiot box and pointed out that his daughters (and wife) feel neglected. Would he be willing to set aside a TV-free hour once a week where he will spend time with his family? If he refuses, you will have to accept the fact that the man is obsessed and make the best of it. We hope he’ll wake up before it’s too late.
Dear Annie: Both of my parents are heroin users. I am 18, attend college and moved out before high-school graduation because of their drug addictions.
I frequently get phone calls from my mom when I’m at work or in class, asking for money for food, gas, medicine, etc. It’s always a lie. They’re looking for money to buy drugs. My mother thinks I’m unaware of her heroin use, even though I have told her I’ve seen the track marks on her arms and the baggies in her room. She constantly denies it and changes the subject.
How can I get her to stop calling without hurting her feelings? And how can I get her to admit that she uses?
— Druggie’s Daughter
Dear Daughter: You cannot get your mother to do anything. That’s up to her. You can, however, find better ways to cope with what is happening so you can create some emotional distance without sacrificing the relationship entirely. Please contact Families Anonymous (familiesanonymous.org) at 1-800-736-9805 or Nar-Anon (nar-anon.org) at 1-800-477-6291, and ask for guidance. You also can discuss this with someone in the counseling department of your university.
Dear Annie: This is in reply to “At a Loss,” the 16-year-old girl who was medicated for wetting the bed but was having side effects she did not want.
My daughter also had this problem when she was younger, and we discovered it was related to milk intolerance. She had to avoid all forms of dairy. We had to read labels very closely, as milk is in many things you wouldn’t expect and is often listed by other names (casein, lactose, whey, etc.). Once we’d eliminated all dairy from her diet, it took about two weeks for the bed-wetting to stop. She is in her 20s now and can tolerate very small quantities of milk-based foods in her diet, but still has to be careful.
The young woman who wrote might not have the same results, but it’s worth a try — there are no side effects, except for the possibility of having to give up something dairy that she might like.
Dear K.C.: Several readers suggested that bed-wetting is connected to food sensitivities to gluten, dairy, eggs or chocolate, among others. It certainly cannot hurt to eliminate suspect foods to see whether the situation improves.