Dear Annie: I am 16 years old. Right now, I am living with my aunt (my father’s sister). My mother and father have never really been in my life, although I did live briefly with my mom.
My father is in jail for manslaughter and will be out in two years. He and my mother have been writing each other and have developed a close relationship. Recently, my father proposed, and Mom accepted. She asked me how I felt about it, and I didn’t say anything.
Annie, I don’t know how I feel about it. I’m angry with my parents for not being in my life when I needed them, and now they decide to get married when it no longer matters to my welfare. Please tell me what to do and say to my mother. How can I get rid of the resentment so I can be happy for them?
— Left Out Daughter
Dear Left Out: You sound wise beyond your years. You understand the importance of putting aside your anger and resentment, not only for your parents’ sake, but for your own. Try to forgive them for not being the parents you deserved and should have grown up with. If you can accept them as they are, warts and all, it will help you feel less cheated. After all, you seem to have turned out OK in spite of their shortcomings. It might help to talk about this with an unbiased third party — a school or camp counselor, favorite teacher, friend, adult neighbor or clergyperson.
Dear Annie: My husband and I recently had to move in with my mother, and I discovered she does something really disturbing. Mom does not think it is necessary to wash her hands after using the bathroom. She will go right into the kitchen and start cooking.
Occasionally, she will rinse them at the kitchen sink, using only cold water. She told me that cold water kills germs.
Am I being overly concerned? I am always the one who catches every virus and infection that comes to town. How can I convince her that this is not healthy? She likes your column, so maybe reading this will help.
— Cringing Violet
Dear Violet: We hope so. Your mother is misinformed. Washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to prevent infection and illness. Rinsing her hands under cold water does nothing. Here are some guidelines from the Mayo Clinic:
Always wash your hands AFTER using the toilet, changing a diaper, preparing food (especially raw meat or poultry), touching an animal, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, treating wounds, touching a sick or injured person, or handling garbage or anything that could be contaminated. You also should be sure to wash your hands BEFORE preparing food, eating, treating wounds or giving medicine, touching a sick or injured person, and inserting or removing contact lenses. If Mom doesn’t like to use soap, perhaps she would be willing to try an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that doesn’t require water. (Please, Mom, do this to keep your family healthy.)
Dear Annie: Like “Help,” I, too, have a husband who refuses to close things. He leaves the house and car doors wide open, and often, I find the refrigerator and freezer doors left ajar. Any bottle or package sits without the top on. Bagged lettuce spills all over the fridge, pills scatter all over the vanity, and more shampoo has fallen down the drain than you can imagine. He also refuses to hang up his clothes. Instead, his shirts are stuffed on shelves, and his pants hang on decorative hooks.
It doesn’t matter if it costs him money, injures him or forces him to clean up spills. My pleas fall on deaf ears, and if I say too much, he accuses me of being overly critical. I am open to all suggestions.
Dear Closer: Leaving the car and house doors open is an extreme version of this problem. Suggest that your husband see his doctor.
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, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. 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.