Annie's Mailbox: Mother's Facebook use hard to take

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Dear Annie: Over the years, I have made several major moves around the country and have found that my Facebook account is a great way to keep in touch.

However, my dear mother does not seem to understand Facebook etiquette. She comments on my page as if each change were directed specifically to her.

If a friend posts a message that is clearly meant for me, Mom will respond before I have a chance to.

My friends have stopped leaving me comments because they know they will end up having a conversation with my mother. She has even managed to insult a few of them when she disagreed with things they posted on their own pages. She does the same thing to my siblings.

I live out of state, but I call Mom every week and instant-message her most days, as well. It’s not as if she isn’t up-to-date on my life. I don’t know how to fix this, though, because her feelings are easily hurt.

— J.C. in Wisconsin

Dear J.C.: Your mom thinks she is ever so cool because she communicates with your generation through something as contemporary as Facebook. It might help to tell her why her behavior has the opposite effect.

Then, gently explain the best way to use Facebook so her comments are welcome. We’d hate to have you “unfriend” Mom.

A spokesperson at Facebook said it is possible to set your preferences so that Mom is prevented from seeing specific things.

You also can “hide” your wall so no comments are visible to others and make yourself available only through personal mail.

Dear Annie: My niece, “Isla,” will be 6 years old soon, and she’s still using a pacifier. Every time I come back to visit my family, I pray she has given up the “passy,” but she hasn’t.

My mom and I have brought this up numerous times, but my sister claims she isn’t strong enough to take it away from her.

Isla knows I hate seeing her with the pacifier, so she hides it from me. I refuse to let her speak to me with this thing in her mouth, and when she’s not around, I secretly dip it in vinegar in the hope that she will dislike the taste of it.

I’ve sent my sister articles on the dangers of using a pacifier for long periods of time and also hints on ways to wean my niece off of it.

Isla is now starting to show signs of overuse with frequent ear infections, but nothing is being done.

How do I make my sister understand that taking the easy way out puts my niece at risk?

— Anti-Pacifier Uncle

Dear Uncle: We agree that Isla is too old to be using a pacifier, and your sister is too lazy to work on it, but we are more upset with you. You have succeeded only in making Isla feel terrible when she is around her uncle.

You, too, can find more positive ways to encourage the girl to give up the pacifier by complimenting her when she takes it out of her mouth instead of criticizing and punishing her when she doesn’t. And if Isla’s teeth require braces later, that is your sister’s problem.

Please be the uncle Isla loves instead of the one she avoids.

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